Thursday, April 16, 2009

Tweet, tweet! Why Pobox is using Twitter

Since the new Home page has gone live, you've probably noticed the Twitter link at the top of the page. You may be wondering, what is Twitter? And why is Pobox using it?

Twitter is a "micro-blogging" service. If you use Facebook, you're probably familiar with status updates. Twitter is a status-updates-only service. If you use IRC, you can think of Twitter as your global channel.

If you don't use any of these services, Twitter allows you to post messages, up to 140 characters long (that's 20 less than a text message!) from the web, your cell phone or instant messenger. People who are "following" you can see your message on the Twitter website, using one of the many third-party programs out there, following your feed in RSS, or (as you can see) when you integrate it into your own website.

So, why is Pobox using it? I am the first person to admit that we have frequently been remiss in posting notices about problems and downtimes. In a lot of cases, it's because someone identifies the problem, thinks, well, I could go write a post for the News page, or just fix it, and chooses to just fix it. With a 140 character limit, there's always a minute to jot a quick note about a problem.

Twitter makes it easier for you to get those notices, too. The old News page had an RSS feed, or you could come to the site to see it. Both of those would be unavailable if the notice was, "The Pobox website is down right now"! Using Twitter means you can choose to get notified through a larger number of tools, or still just visit our site if you prefer. But by using a tool that is automatically displayed on the site when it's available, but accessible using other methods when our site is down, we should (hopefully) always have a way to communicate with you, no matter how dire the problem.

Finally, there are a lot of great companies out there. By using services like Twitter for our announcements, Liquid Planner for our project planning, and GitHub for our version control, we're reducing the amount of support tools we maintain, so we can focus on what we do best -- giving you the best tools to manage your email.

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Pobox is hiring! If you're a Perl programmer who loves email as much as we do, check out our job posting.

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