Hugo Chávez, the Venezuelan dictator better known for unhinged eight-hour rants than brevity, took to Twitter last night: "Hey how's it going?" he typed, "I appeared like I said I would: at midnight. I'm off to Brazil. And very happy to work for Venezuela. We will be victorious!" With this pat snippet, Chavez joins dozens of world leaders who use Twitter to ... do what exactly? Six notable tweeters:
Barack Obama, USA
Uses Twitter to: Drum up support for his political positions. In the week before the Senate vote on health-care reform, 27 out of his 28 tweets addressed the topic. After the bill passed, he tweeted, "Tonight, we answered the call of history."
Gordon Brown, U..K
Uses Twitter to: Alert followers of his rigorous parliamentary schedule ("PM to attend landmark Cabinet at 0915. Media gathering in Downing St for big day") and acknowledge international incidents. His latest tweet was a response to Iceland's Eyjafjallajökull volcano, which left over 100,000 Brits stranded.
Rania Al Abdullah, Jordan
Uses Twitter to: Specify her whereabouts with tweenish zeal ("Busy day 2moro in NYC! Interview on GMA, then The View, then meeting UN Sec-Gen! Oh, & a book signing at Borders on Columbus Circle!") Rania peppers her updates with inspirational morsels: "Being able to read and write is more than spelling your name or reading a road sign. Literacy lifts lives!"
Sheikh Mohammed, Dubai
Uses Twitter to: Hype sports and cultural events, including the Dubai World Cup, the Patrons of the Arts Awards, the Dubai International Boat Show, and Abwab Al Ghaim, a TV series based on his poetry.
Dalai Lama, head of Tibet's government-in-exile based in India
Uses Twitter to: Share inspirational phrases, devotions, and prayers. "Since we are not solely material creatures," he recently posted, "it is a mistake to place all our hopes for happiness on external development alone."
Bibi Netanyahu, Israel
Uses Twitter to: Drive Twitter followers to what is apparently his preferred social-networking site, Facebook. Netanyahu's tweets consist mostly of shortened bit.ly links to his Facebook fan page.