Recently, Julie and I serendipitously crossed paths with the Mr. Whippy man at the end of a fun run. It seems that the only way we’re currently meeting is by happy accident, so while he was dipping my cone in chocolate, I suggested that he use Twitter to update his location so that I can plan my next summer Saturday around ice-cream stops. His response was more along the lines of “ussa-twitta-who?” Granted, I was at the front of a queue of children waving money in the air, so there wasn’t a lot of time to give my pitch, but suffice it to say, in the few seconds I had, he wasn’t really won over by the concept.
First, let’s just take as a given that there are people who are willing to plan their day around ice cream. Second, I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that there might be a small cultural divide between those of us who spend our days fanatically trying out all the new stuff on the internet, and those that spend their days making delicious treats for children – so allow me to introduce the two of you:
Twitter: Mr. Whippy is a purveyor of soft serve ice cream, who roams the streets of New Zealand in search of children (ok, adults) that like ice cream.
Mr. Whippy: Twitter is a website where you post short messages to anyone who is interested in following you. You put where you’re at, or what you’re doing, and anyone who is interested can be updated in real-time. Think of it as a sort of public text message that anyone can receive. You can post a message (called a “tweet”) by sending a text to the service, where it will be broadcast for everyone. So ideally, Mr. Whippy will post something like “I’ll be in North Hagley, near the rugby fields for the next few hours.” Moments later, I’ll look at my phone, see your “tweet” and ride several miles out of the way I was intending.
Ok, now that we’re sorted on the introductions, let’s get you set up:
First, go to Twitter.com and get signed up. Pick a cool name like “ChchWhippy” or something like that – something people can remember. Add a little photo of a cone or the truck to flash it up a bit.
Next, grab your mobile and text “Start” to 8987, a special number just for Twitter that works on Telecom and Vodafone. Twitter will reply with a series of prompts. Tell it the cool name you came up with in the fist step and your password and you’re done. Try it out by texting “Who loves Mr. Whippy!?” to 8987. Save that number to your phone so you can post to Twitter every time you move the truck.
That’s it. Tell your friends to follow you, put a sign with your Twitter name on the truck or just let word spread. Soon, all the Mr. Whippy fans who use Twitter will be following you, and when they need a Whippy fix, they’ll know where to go.
If you really want to get nerdy, you can get a fancy internet-enabled phone like an iPhone or Blackberry. With one of those you can download a third-party apps like “Tweetie 2,” “TweetDeck” or “UberTwitter” that will let you attach a photo or GPS coordinates to your tweet, so people don’t even need to know their way around town to find the truck.
If you do me this one little favor, I promise to start bringing cash on bike rides.