Back when I was young and the Internet was shiny to me I spent a lot of time on IRC chatrooms.
IRC is short for Internet Chat Relay. You connected to a network or “Net” via a client (program) and chatted in real-time and then you would join a channel (chatroom). It gets complicated from here with channel creators being operatives and having special powers and creating bots so no one could steal your channel away and all manner of crazy that would take me a whole post to explain.
I logged into Twitter this morning musing about hashtags and using Twitter to socialize and I realized Twitter is similar to IRC in some ways, it is the new IRC.
Ways Twitter is the same as IRC
1) People are using it for real time chat to connect with like minded people interested in the same thing.
There were chatrooms on IRC dedicated to any topic and if you couldn’t find a topic you connected with you could start your own. Friends of mine (from Sweden) started a pagan chatroom after discovering several of us were pagan from another channel and it brought others in and we expanded.
When you joined a channel you used #pagan or #vampire.
On Twitter you label your posts with #amwriting or #mywana and you set up feeds to search for those hashtags. Fairly similar.
You can connect to Twitter on the website, but you don’t gain a lot of functionality. To really use Twitter, you need a client like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite.
4) World-wide connection
With Twitter you can find someone on the other side of the world who believes the same things you do.
I grew up in a town of 400 people. There were 16 graduates in my high school class. My parents were the first in town to get divorced in the history of the town. Really. I had to connect with people outside my town. I was at that time a pagan, I wanted to write, I wanted to connect with people who had BIG IDEAS. IRC and the internet were my dream come true.