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AlterNet Megaphone: Why You Should Be on Twitter

There's something silly about Twitter. The name is silly, and the concept seems even sillier. After all, how can we be expected to compress our brilliance into 140 characters or less?

But by this point, even the grouchiest naysayers have to admit that Twitter has evolved into an extremely useful and influential social networking and communication tool.

Twitter allows you to keep up with breaking news, or even get breaking information before it's in the news. It lets you keep in touch with friends and share thoughts, ideas and information.

Ultimately, as many, many proponents of the tool point out, it's not about how Ashton Kutcher, Oprah or Anderson Cooper choose to use Twitter; what matters is how you choose to use it.

Here's a brief run-down of how Twitter works: Once your account has been set up, you find people to "follow." Once you are "following" someone, their Twitter messages appear on your Twitter page. In turn, the people who follow you get your "tweets" in their accounts. You can tweet whatever you like, using fewer than 140 characters. This can include everything from your weekend plans, to commentary on a news event or issue, to links to articles and other information.

AlterNet has a lively Twitter account that you should take a look at if you are already on Twitter, or if you are thinking of joining. You'll get invited to participate in AlterNet contests (such as our recent six-word challenge), you'll get AlterNet content delivered to your account, and you can use Twitter to start conversations about AlterNet content and talk to our writers and editors. Twitter is also set up so that you can "retweet" others' tweets -- a really easy way to share AlterNet content with friends.

So, give Twitter a try, and check out AlterNet's page: it's not scary, it's not stupid and it's not a time-suck.

It's a great way to get and share information and create communities around shared interests.

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