Online communities and forums have become a large part of internet these days. These communities and forums provide a great way to interact with different people using internet and share their interests or expertise.

Communities and forums provide platform for knowledge sharing .Since many times in today’s world we do not have time to look for answers or we do not know where to find the answers, but by means of online forums or communities we can put our query across these boards and can get answer from someone who has knowledge about the issue. Broad participation and engagement in these chats and forums ranging from a novice to an expert provides an enriching learning experience.

Communities and forums allow companies to advertise and sell their products. This could lead to lower customer service costs and increase in sales. The medium offers them opportunity to provide information to customers about their product and services, reply to customer queries and interact with them to know about their feedback on the product. Hence they offer perfect medium to companies to display their expertise in the field and generate confidence in the company.

They also help in bringing together of people with same common interests such as photography, gardening etc. Here they can share ideas, provide and seek information even provide link to other sites related to the topic.

Some communities like social networking sites offer a medium where people (known and unknown) can come together and share their personal experiences in an informal way and develop a sense of belonging which further leads to building of a long term relationships.

There are communities and forums which are based on social and health issues like cancer, AIDS, addiction, rape, domestic violence and offer support and information to patients or victims. Since these sites are online the victim/patient can chose to remain anonymous while seeking assistance. There are communities which offer help in finding suitable candidates to marry which is a real difficult task in the real world. In these communities user can get information about other person and his interests and interact with him/her to know about him more.

Communities also help people in just relaxing and rejuvenating as there are many communities where user can listen to music, watch videos, play online games and get a break from a normal tensed busy life.

Since there is a varied range of activities offered by communities and forums they form an indispensible part of our internet life.

 

The notion of online communities is a fascinating new concept that has emerged in this era itself. Online communities are the base of all the emerging ways of socializing on the web and depending upon their type, these are categorized into many forums like Social Networking Sites, Presence Services, Gaming Communities, Technology Discussion Communities and Forums etc. These are mostly used concurrently by people to stay connected in different ways to people they care about the most.

Twitter is one such online community which takes the form of a presence service. A presence service basically is one which provides the status information of a person at a given point of time to a list of authorized people, on multiple devices including computers, mobiles and PDAs, music players, Kiosks etc. In other words, or more correctly in the words of developers of Twitter:

“Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?”

Twitter.com basically gives a user, the ability to provide their one or two line status information to their friends and families so that they can always know when the person is available and when not. This is similar to the concept that some phone companies including Nokia came out with few years ago in their phones and named it “Presence”. This service was basically based on GPRS based short text notifications sent to a server where it is stored and all users connect to it to share this status information. Twitter users also have the ability to send private messages to each other, much like in other communities like forums and gaming communities as well as in social networking sites like Orkut and Facebook.

The service of twitter is also available on almost all the phones that have GPRS enabled on them. Going one step further, most PDAs of today like Windows Mobile Based PDAs by HTC, O2 and XDA or Palm OS based systems from Palm Inc. and many others have specially crafted applications for these phones to make the task more enjoyable and functional on these devices. Other some devices that have the capabilities of providing Twitter services include music players such as iPod from apple, some kiosks etc.

All this multiplatform access is possible due the fact that Twitter uses a standard API (Application Programming Interface) for all the communications that are done with its servers. This API is based on HTTP, XML, SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) and REST based technologies which are established standards. So it becomes very easy for the developers to develop applications around it as almost all modern computer languages have support for these standards.