Twittering about Web 2.0

Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Twitter, and many lesser social networking sites are what Web 2.0 is all about.

The president of LinkedIn described the popular sites like this: “LinkedIn is the office, Facebook is the barbecue in the backyard, and MySpace is the bar.”

I did a LinkedIn search and found 36,000 members within a 10 mile radius of my Madison zip code. That’s about ten percent of the population and, though it’s a little hard to believe, it’s probably correct.

I’m guessing that a majority of the readers of this column are LinkedIn members. (If you’re not, take the plunge, go to LinkedIn.com. and join. It’s free. What you do then is up to you, but it can’t hurt to start somewhere.)

When invited, I accept anybody I know as a LinkedIn contact, but rarely initiate invitations. I’m also on Facebook (the “barbecue in the backyard,” remember), but I don’t accept every Facebook invitation to “be my friend,” even if I know the person. I’ve found that sometimes I get “too much information” about people, particularly younger folks such as my kids’ friends.

Then there’s Twitter. This site allows you to send very brief “tweets” that can be read by anyone who’s “following” you or who searches for things you may have in common. Sort of like a party-line instant-messaging service using either computer or cell phone.

I played around with Twitter on New Year’s when I was babysitting my granddaughter and the only person in the house awake at midnight.

I searched for “Times Square” and soon was receiving a stream of tweets from folks who where there.

After a while I got up the courage to post a tweet myself. I figured I couldn’t say anything dumber than all the other posts, so I bravely typed “I was on Times Square in 2004.”

I was in awe as I clicked “send,” realizing that in microseconds thousands (millions?) all over the world would be reading my inane words.

But what would happen next? Would I be humiliated if someone wrote back, “Idiot, who cares? You must be a Twitter beginner.” Or maybe some would write back, “Oh wow, I was there in 2004 too! Will you be my Facebook friend?”

Actually, I got no response at all and my words are probably buried forever in Twitter’s multi-terabyte server.

At first it might seem that Twitter is just for those with no real life, but I can see business applications. For instance, a conference might establish a Twitter group for all attendees to make connections before, during, and after the event. Example message: “For those who want to skip this morning’s keynote, let’s meet at the snack bar by the pool.”

The other social networking sites have business applications, too. With some experimentation, you’ll undoubtedly have some ideas for your own business.

I’ll be seeing you around Web 2.0 for sure. Just don’t be insulted if I ignore your Facebook request to “be my friend.”