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The Next Bit Thing: Twitterfall -- the best Twitter client ever

If you want to keep track of what's going on in the world via Twitter, Twitterfall is, hands-down, the best way to do it.

March 3, 2009 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Twitter is the place to go for idle Internet chatter -- for example, what could be more fun than following a Congressional representative who twitters about President Obama's speech in real time?

However, the native Twitter Web interface is a model of bare functionality. If you want more features -- and many people do -- then you need a Twitter client. The best I've found to date is Twitterfall.

What is it? Twitterfall is a Web-based client for Twitter that adds all the search and trend-tracking bells and whistles that a news addict could ever want. Because it's a purely Web-based service, unlike the Adobe AIR-based Twhirl or the Mac/iPhone's Twitterrific, you can run it on any PC or device that can run a full-powered Web browser.

What does it do? When you first bring up Twitterfall, you immediately see where the name comes from -- the center display quickly fills with a waterfall of Twitter notes. You can adjust the speed of this message stream with the basic setup tools, which are located on the right-hand column.

Why is it the coolest thing since sliced bread? Unless you really like just watching random messages go by, the first thing you'll want to do is to start using Twitterfall to track tweets about subjects you care about. You do this by clicking off the general feed and tracking the most popular message trends on Twitter (which are displayed on the left sidebar). Or -- and this is where Twitterfall gets interesting -- by setting up your own search criteria. Want to know what people are saying about the new Mac Mini? Pop "Mac Mini" in the custom search field, and you're on your way.

Or say you want to hear what people have to say about the last snowstorm -- but you really don't care about the snowfall in Anchorage, you only want to know what people have to say in your town. You can set up a search for "snow," and use the geolocation search box to keep you up to date on how your neighbors within 10 miles of you are handling the latest snow day.

Twitterfall
Easy to read, easy to search, easy to customize, Twitterfall is the interface for Twitter.
Click to view larger image.

You can also log in to Twitter from Twitterfall and use it as your regular Twitter client. Mouse over a tweet, and you get access to a series of icons that let you reply to the message, retweet it, follow the tweeter, etc. Mouse over the tweeter's name, and you get info on their location and followers. You can track your Twitter friends by clicking on the Timeline option, which is just below the log-in.

Last, but by no means least, Twitterfall gives you an abundance of presentation options. Want to change the font size? The font colors? No problem. Want to watch Twitter comments at a speed-reading 10 tweets per second? You can do that too. (Twitterfall, while free, won't give you any aspirin for headaches that might result from reading tweets at that pace.)

What needs to be fixed? It's enormously addictive. You see, not only does it make Twitter a joy to follow, it also makes it so easy to actually track useful and entertaining information that it's hard to pull yourself away from it.

Final verdict: Excuse me, I can't talk now -- I need to check my Twitterfall page to see what people are saying about the new Watchmen movie.

Still getting started with Twitter? See "Twitter for business: 5 ways to tap the power of the tweet."

Read more about Networking in Computerworld's Networking Topic Center.



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