Twitter: The New Diabetes Social Network
What if you could sort of instant message with hundreds of people in a collective fashion but without having to use another Instant Messaging program? What if you could make new virtual friends outside of your online acquaintances in social networks? And the biggest one of all: what if you could learn more about ways to better manage your diabetes while you are doing all of the above? Sound too geeky? It is, but it’s one of those geeky pleasures you may want to indulge in.
What I am talking about is Twitter. Twitter is a micro-blogging platform that saw the light of day in early 2006, starting to pick up steam over the following couple of years and starting to reach a critical mass the first quarter of 2008.
They define themselves as "a global community of friends and strangers answering one simple question: What are you doing?" As simple as it sounds, it's powerful. No wonder more than one million people are using Twitter these days.
In Twitter, you can post at most 140 characters at a time (micro-blog posts, wouldn’t you agree?) from your cell phone (through m.twitter.com) through your instant messaging application or directly through the Twitter web site. Lately there’s also been an explosion of additional applications for people to "tweet" (it’s also a verb now!)
Why should you care?
Granted that some people post every five minutes about almost everything they are doing, the biggest value Twitter has is the ability for you to write short posts about topics that you would normally not feel compelled to blog about.
How does this connect with diabetes? Scott Hanselman, a prominent diabetic geek spent a whole month twittering his diabetes back in May 2007. Ever since, legions of new users have found value in this platform as a logbook-meets-decentralized diabetes community or sorts. To date, I have been able to keep in touch with a few hundred of them.
Through Twitter you can connect with the likes of diabetes technology blogger Bernard Farrell or stay on top of the most recent posts made in your favorite diabetes social network. You can also keep it private and only share your updates with those you feel comfortable with or with nobody and simply take advantage of the convenient platform to log your blood sugar values, meals and exercise.
The possibilities are endless but the platform truly becomes more useful as you grow the list of people you follow, since you can learn from what they do to better manage their diabetes ("Seeing my BG values all over the place every time I eat potatoes. Must be the starch doing its job" could be a tweet you could read and learn from).
If you decide to jump on the Twitter bandwagon, you can add me as a friend at http://twitter.com/askmanny.