The 10 Most Creative Uses for Twitter

By Josh Catone
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Think Twitter is just for wasting time chatting to friends and strangers? Think again. There are all sorts of creative uses for Twitter out there, and we’ve assembled ten of our favorites below. From writing fiction to quitting smoking, Twitter is being used for more than just idle conversation. Check out our list and be sure to share any creative uses for Twitter we may have missed in the comments section following this post.

Water the Plants

What if your plant is having a dry soil emergency, how will you know? The guys at Botanicalls have the answer. Their DIY Twitter watering project uses moisture probes to allow your plant to tweet you a message when it needs a drink.

Write Short Fiction

Is it possible to tell a story in 140 characters? Well, you be the judge. Last May Copyblogger held a contest in which people wrote stories that were exactly 140 characters in length. They’re very short, yes, but many are compelling. I’ve always thought it was a neat idea, and wrote about it last spring.

Write Longer Fiction

Yes, you can only write 140 characters in each Twitter message. But if you string enough tweets together, can you write an entire novel? That was the idea behind 140novel. Unfortunately, the idea didn’t get too much traction, and the novel in progress hasn’t been updated since march. Even though it’s defunct, you can still read what was written at the 140novel site, color-coded by author (4 Twitter users contributed).

Read a Novel

Okay, so if Twitter can be used to write a book, why not read one? There are two projects that we know of trying to do just that — share an entire classic novel tweet by tweet. So if you have the patience, you an follow along with James Joyce’s Ulysses or Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace.

Write with Friends

If you thought four authors working on a book was too many, you clearly haven’t fully realized the power of Twitter. @twitterstory is a Twitter account in which any follower can join in and contribute to a running story. Unfortunately, the 50+ participants haven’t updated the story in almost a year and a half. Can anyone out there think of the next sentence?

Learn to Cook

If you thought condensing a short narrative into 140 characters was difficult, try tweeting an entire recipe in one go. That’s what @cookbook does with surprising regularity. Check out this recipe for “Snow Pea Salad” to get an idea of how it’s done: “slice red+ylw+grn pep/.25lb peas. Blanch30s/cool; +.5c cherrytom/T balsamic&shallot&olvoil&lemon&Dijon/s+p.”

Quit Smoking

Twitter can be good for your health. No, really. Quitter is a Twitter mashup from Tobacco Free Florida that can help you keep track of how many cigarettes you smoke each day and chart your progress day by day until you kick the habit.

Check on Traffic

Twitter can also keep you out of traffic jams. CommuterFeed is a cool Twitter mashup and a great idea that aggregates tweets about traffic from people stuck in jams. You can then follow your metro areas feed and get updates about pending traffic situations. While we sincerely hope that people aren’t tweeting while driving (unless in standstill traffic), the biggest problem with CommuterFeed is that not enough people use it yet to make it really work the way it is intended. Great idea, though.

Get Out of Jail

When 29-year-old UC Berkley journalism student James Buck was arrested in Egypt on April 10, 2008 he alerted his friends via a Twitter message that said one thing: Arrested. The tweet went out to peers who got the news to the correct people and Buck was walked out of jail the next day with an Egyptian attorney hired by UC Berkley and the help of the US Embassy.

Tweet from the Womb

Most Twitter users are early adopters, but this is a little ridiculous. Expectant father Corey Menscher this month created a device that can record kicks from the womb and tweet them as they happen. You can follow what is undoubtedly the world’s youngest Twitter user at @kickbee.

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  • At Webstrong we use Twitter to track the automatic builds of our development projects.

    We do this by using a Twitter plugin for Hudson, the continuous build system. Everytime we commit our code to the repository Hudson automatically start a build. When it’s finished it tweets the result to a dedicated private Twitter account!

    This is great because it means we can keep a close eye on how each of our projects are progressing and whether the updates have transferred successfully to the various servers.

    Get the Twitter plugin for Hudson.

  • SEMaven

    Apparently Twitter can be used to turn off your bedroom lights too.

  • I used Twitter to let everyone know I’d been run over by a car once.

    I texted a message to twitter via my cell phone, which then got posted on my FaceBook profile. From there, word spread via email and word of mouth to the point where most people I know had heard about it before I’d even left hospital.

  • Brad

    We use twitter to play a game! See

  • Jared Grippe

    I’m no expert in either but is seems to me Twitter is just public xmpp so why would you want to make your plant’s cries for help public?

  • designz

    Just like ryanhellyer, I plan to text a message to twitter from my cell phone once I have my daughter, and have it update my facebook profile with her stats!

  • jfouse

    Umm…if they can use moisture probes to trigger a tweet, can’t they just trigger a device to dispense a certain amount of water instead? Less pseudo-geek cred, I guess, but less repeated bother too. Empower the stupid plant to water itself; don’t bother yourself about it.

  • thinkjayant

    Very nice compilation. I am trying to get used to Twitter. Most of my friends are facebook addicts.

    A good post would be links of top bloggers to follow on twitter.


  • Anonymous

    About And Your Hair / Twit (a e-lit project) takes from the Twitter insted posting to it. It grabs tweets related to current weather in Ljubljana and generates a discussion like page.

  • @designz

    Why not simplify this by setting up a Jott account, and just voice your way into your twitter account? No need developing chat callouses on those fingers when you can talk instead. Just an idea ;-) (ooh, sorry… hope that wasn’t a copyright infringement).

  • I plan to use twitter to report on the progress of a joomla website I’m creating with the help of outsourcers. Its called but not really up yet. This isn’t a plug its really happening or going to happen on my challenge to build a website to eventually bring people in and discuss online dating – the joy and the plights. kathy_filia