Twitter is the new finger

Back in the day, we used to leave a small file named .plan in our Unix home directories, which others could read over port 79 with the finger command. It was a useful for quick status updates, to find out what people were working on (or where they were off to) without pestering them. John Carmack popularized it as a proto-blog, and the IM phenomenon brought a similar function mainstream via presence notification with custom status messages. But I’ve been frustrated at how difficult it is to log and broadcast a group’s or even my own status messages.

Enter Twitter, basically an implementation of finger using the contemporary infrastructure of HTML and RSS over HTTP, with IM and SMS tie-ins. Now I have a .plan again. Maybe someday Ambient Devices will build me an LED sign to display it in a more physical manner.

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