"Just wet the diaper."
"Just wet the diaper, again."
"Thinking about wetting the diaper."
The micro-blogging service Twitter.com has morphed into many things since its inception in 2006. It has gone from a simple way to update your friends on “what you are doing” to a tool for customer support and marketing and then a source for breaking news and information on real-time events. Another great implementation of the service is to use it as an easy means to chronicle your child's progress from newborn to toddler and on. Since you are never without a cellphone and sending a post in 140 characters or less takes seconds... it’s a simple way to store precious memories as they happen. After months or years of posts, there are many ways to display your child's history or simply print them for a scrapbook. I'll explain several ways to get your information out of Twitter later.
First, what is Twitter? According to their ABOUT page, "Twitter asks “what’s happening” and makes the answer spread across the globe to millions, immediately."
According to me, Twitter is an easy way to share what's on your mind or what you see and broadcast it to your friends and family. In your child’s case, it’s also a way to document their growth and store it digitally.
The service is free and the options for how you want to use and display your posts are limitless. Personally, I created an account for our son when he was a week old and struggled with whether to tweet in 1st person or 3rd? “I’m starting to focus on things more that ten inches away” or “He’s starting to focus on things more that ten inches away.”
After creating an account you can use the web interface, your cellphone's text messaging or countless web and phone apps to post. The easiest way to answer "whats happening" is to connect Twitter with your cellphone. To do this, you enter your phone number into the Settings/Mobile tab and they will send you a text message. After you reply, your phone is associated with your account and to post you send an SMS to 40404. For example, imagine you’re in your nursery watching your child and notice him starting to learn to smile. Send a text to 40404 with the message "I think I see him learning to smile... but it may be just an expression associated with a stretch!" Now, your post is time/date stamped and saved forever. You will never forget the first time you saw him smile!
The first argument is, “Why would I want strangers to know what my baby is doing?” Or, “Who cares that my son just smiled for the first time?”
If these are your concerns, as they are mine, there is a one click option to make all posts private. Only you (or people you allow) can see the posts and they are saved digitally for later. My posts are private and only people I let view them can access the site or have the updates sent to their phone.
Concerning allowing others to see the posts. With the permission of your non-tech savvy friends or family, you can create an account for them and subscribe them to your child's posts and have your tweets sent to their phone without them doing a thing. This way, they can keep up with your family automatically. A few times a week they will get a text update even though they know little about Twitter.
And about getting your information out of Twitter. There are hundreds of services that take your posts and present them in a variety of ways.
Tweetbook is a free website that creates a PDF of your posts for you to download and print. Since the posts are all time/date stamped, I think this is a great way to caption photos in your scrapbook or use in your old fashioned baby book.
The service I use for PDF backup is called Backupify. It is paid service and I use it not only to create PDF’s of my tweets but also as an online backup solution for Twitter and many other web services. I use it to archive my Flickr photos, Facebook posts and Gmail in the event those websites lose my data.
Since looking at the twitter website can get monotonous over time, there are many websites that will take the data and display your posts in a more eye catchy way. I like Dipity.com. It takes the content from websites like Twitter and creates a time line from your posts. On Dipity, you can link your photo sharing site like Flickr and add images to the time line automatically as they are uploaded. The time line ebbs and flows along with your child’s life. The more you add to it, the more active the time line grows.
These suggestions are just a few ways to take the tradition of chronicling your child's history and modernizing it. I think Twitter is a great way to add time/date stamped content to your scrapbook. As our child grows and his scrapbook grows I look forward to adding these posts along side the countless photo's we will take.
Personally I’ve been active on the site since early 2007. Follow me @stork123.