Get Twitter updates from the Utah government

/ Source: The Associated Press

In Utah government, blogging is becoming so 2007.

The new cool for state agencies and politicians is quickly becoming Twitter, a social networking and micro-blogging service that allows people to post 140 character updates from the Internet and cell phones that can be read online or via text message.

is increasingly being spread through Twitter to a small but growing audience.

"Maybe this is a sign of the times, but blogging got to be too tedious," said Ric Cantrell, chief deputy of the Utah Senate, who blogs and uses Twitter on behalf of the Republican majority. began sending updates through Twitter in April and has posted more than 450 messages since then, alerting followers to such news as when a new video is on a state Web site, how Utah's ski resorts are ranking and where people can get information on health care.

Other state agencies such as the Utah Arts Council are considering Twittering on their own to keep interested people in the loop about its events without having to get a constant stream of unrelated material.

Utah is not alone in jumping on the Twitter bandwagon, but its state Web site has more followers on Twitter than many others at 245. By comparison, Colorado has 84 followers, Kentucky has 124 and Maine has 161. The White House has about 1,000 followers who subscribe to info that primarily includes links to President Bush's speeches and news releases.

Traditional blogging is also frequently used in Utah by Democratic and Republican lawmakers in lieu of press releases and newsletters.

But when lawmakers convene for a special session Thursday to cut $272 million from the state budget, the first word on what happens will just as likely come from a Tweet, what the short messages are called, as it will from traditional media or blogs. With Twitter, an update takes only as long to post as it does to send a text message.

"I can be sitting at a meeting using a Blackberry and not have to take the time that a blog would take. Twitter is a blog that's exponentially shorter," said Cantrell, whose tweets are received by about 100 people.