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By now most of you have probably heard of Twitter. Between the likes of CNN, Ashton Kutcher, Oprah Winfrey and others using the online service, it's finally made its way into mainstream culture, along with Facebook. Yes, the era of online social networks for Sherlockians is clearly here to stay.

I've mentioned Twitter previously on the blog - as early as March 2007 - but it probably didn't mean anything then. Over the past two and a half years, I've used the service here on the blog and on the BSI Weekend site to provide short, real-time updates of what's gone on during the festivities (and I'll continue to do so).

Here's an interesting phenomenon: as part of the mainstreaming of Twitter, the service becomes a barometer of what's being done and said in popular culture at any given moment. There are "trending topics" that are the most popular, but you can also search the service for pretty much any phrase. As you can imagine, with the advent of the new film, the public's awareness of Sherlock Holmes is greater than ever, and services like Twitter are helping to play a part of the dissemination of conversation.

You may have noticed that the right rail of this site has a section called "Every Nerve in a Twitter." This is a widget I've set up that captures every mention of Sherlock Holmes on Twitter. Watch it for a few moments as it continuously updates. Much as the Canon has never been out of print, it seems that "Sherlock Holmes" never leaves the collective conversation of millions of people around the world.

If you'd like to set up a similar widget on your site, just go to http://twitter.com and click on "Goodies" at the bottom. From there, select "Widgets" and select the option that works for you. I used the "Search" widget. From there, you can build and customize your own to share information about the corner of the world that's important to you.

Oh, and if you're interested in following related people, entities and characters on Twitter, you might check out these folks: @S_Holmes, @Dr_Watson, @Prof_Moriarty, @JohnHWatsonMD, @MaryRussell, @221BBakerTweet, @holmesnews.

Do you know of any other characters or fun entities to follow? Drop their names in the comment section and I'll gladly add them to a list.