It's only a matter of time before someone releases a dedicated gadget for Tweeting. And now an IBM patent has surfaced implying that soon your TV remote control will do your microblogging for you.
The network-enabled smart remote control would send out a digital message to initiate a blog post whenever you choose to watch a TV show. Because your interface with the remote is pretty limited due to its form factor, and because you are probably more interested in watching the show than sending out Tweets, the system's strength is automation. Check out IBM's explanation from the patent:
"Upon the viewer wishing to send a blog posting to a blog, the viewer determines whether a tag to be included in the blog posting is to be a pre-existing tag or a custom tag, wherein the blog posting comprises program information about the media program useful to identify the media program. If the tag is to be a pre-existing tag, the viewer selects the pre-existing tag from a plurality of pre-existing tags using the remote controller and if the tag is to be a custom tag, the viewer generates the custom tag using the remote controller."
In other words, there's a list of pre-defined text messages you can send from a simple menu--or you can choose to tap in a new one of your own. Later in the patent there's even the option to embed a snapshot of the program you're watching. See if the patent's illustration can help you unravel this a bit more:
The other person in that picture is a bit of a giveaway--IBM seems to be keen to get people talking about TV shows through social networks or microblogging sites like Twitter. Over at BaltTech they've singled out the text in the patent that relates to this: "In the case of television, for example, one of the joys of watching television is discussing with one's friends the juicy bits of a favorite show or the latest television program." In other words, IBM is trying to push this debate onto social nets via the most convenient device--the remote you've just used to switch channels. But, of course, it's not really as fluffily altruistic as all that: It's actually all about generating buzz about what's on TV by driving up the viewer interaction...and that will push up viewing figures and thus potential revenue. Whether it's neat, crazy, or whether it'll actually be used if it ever makes its way into a real device is anyone's guess. But it's one of the strongest indicators yet that social networking and your devices are going to marry up in ways you'll be surprised by.