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Social media has made the transition from time-waster to legitimate marketing tool. Professionals of all types have flocked to LinkedIn, Plaxo, Facebook and similar sites as a way of connecting with each other. The current rage among lawyers is Twitter, http://twitter.com, a free service that allows participants to publish brief text updates — known as tweets — that answer the question, “What are you doing?”

The concept is simple. A Twitter subscriber identifies someone whose tweets he wants to follow. Through Twitter’s Web interface, a third-party desktop portal (basically a software program that organizes incoming tweets, such as TweetDeck or Twhirl) or a smartphone application, the subscriber receives that person’s updates, which are limited to 140 characters each. Tweeting is similar to blogging, and following tweets is much like subscribing to a blog feed — but on a scale that encourages multidimensional conversations in a way blogging cannot. The character limit is the tradeoff.

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