To Twitter or Dodgeball at SXSW

AUSTIN, Texas--One question heard more than any other this week at South by Southwest Interactive (SXSWi), "Are you on Twitter?"

I have to admit that I'm not--yet. So the first time I heard the question, which was literally as I was getting off the plane and encountering dozens of familiar faces, I wasn't sure what these folks were talking about.

But there they were, three people in a small, little circle, all checking their Twitter.

Twitter is a new mobile phone service that lets members inform each other, in real-time, about what they're doing and what they think about things. You join people's friends lists and they join yours, and then you can send messages from your phone or from your computer's instant messaging client.

According to blogger Scott Beale, Twitter is "absolutely ruling" SXSWi. Social software researcher Danah Boyd said Twitter is "owning" the festival.

Then again, there's the Dodgeball crowd. That ancient mobile service, all of two or three years old, and one of the very first so-called mobile social software services--MoSoSos--is still around. It, too, lets your friends know what you're doing, and where you're going, and it, too, is still staking a claim to a bit of the SXSWi mindshare.

Even among Twitter users, Dodgeball has its adherents.

But for many of the people here, Dodgeball is a little too hard to use. In my very non-scientific survey, Twitter is winning the SXSWi battle.

Boyd said while in that little circle at the airport, she'd gotten more than 40 Twitter messages while on the flight to Austin. So, it seems to me that here, with thousands of people dying to tell each other where they are and what they're doing, Twitter might get a tad unwieldy.

But I'll be heading over to now to sign up now.

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