Twitter's appeal is that it can be put to lots of different uses. You get 140 characters to post anything you like to your list of faithful followers.

News updates, insightful opinion, banal chat, jokes, journal posts, links and banter - the medium makes them all possible.

But mix up all that raw data with other services and you get something else entirely - and there are a whole heap of mashups that do just that.

So we've picked the best 20 we could find - from useful tools to daytime distractions.

1. Tweetburner
There are lots of URL shortening tools - but this one's tailored for Twitter. Not only does it reduce any lengthy web addresses to a manageable 22 characters, it also enables you to track the popularity of the link.

2. TwitterLocal
Powered by Adobe AIR, we include TwitterLocal because it's not your average desktop client. Download the package and enter a city and country of your choice. You'll get a stream of feeds from folks in that locality.

3. TweetBeep
A bit like Google Alerts - except for Twitter. Create an alert using keywords, your username or even a shortened web site address. An hourly update is sent to your email address.

4. Twistory
Not be confused with sappy new age mash-up "Twistori" - this cool app sends your tweets, old and new, to a chosen calendar service so you can see them displayed by day and date.

5. Twittervision
The best of a bunch of mashups that combine Twitter with Google Maps. Stylish and slick, it shows tweets from your neighbourhood when you log in to the service.

6. Twitt(url)y
Which are Twitter's hottest links? Twitt(url)y will tell you. Browse popular links in the top 100 charts or search by subject.

7. TwitterFeed
Want to post your blog updates to Twitter without the hassle of configuring plugins? TwitterFeed will do it all for you - updating your Twitter account as often as you like.

8. TweetStats
Enter your username - no password required - and TweetStats generates a page full of graphs laying your Twitter habits bare. See which hours of the day you tweet the most, who you reply to and what days of the week you're most active.

9. Twitterholic
Who are the web's top tweeters and where do you stand among them? Serving up a list of Twitter users ranked by followers, friends, tweets or join date, Twitterholic can tell you. Enter your own username to see where you come in the charts.

10. TwitterMail
Several email to Twitter gateways have already come and gone. This recently launched service may have got the model right. Sign up for the site and you'll get a unique TwitterMail address. Any message you send to it will be forwarded to Twitter.

11.TwitScoop
On the surface TwitScoop's just another Twitter search tool. It's real power is in its trending engine, which spots popular keywords and displays them as a cloud with the most popular topics writ large.

12. TweetCC
Protect the reuse rights of your tweets with TweetCC using Creative Commons licensing. Necessary for folks posting creative ideas and news scoops via the service.

13. Twalala
Twalala's an online Twitter client with filtering features. Ever wanted to block football scores on Saturday or spoilers from your favourite TV saga? Enter the right keywords into Twalala and it'll do it for you.

14. TwitPic
Well known, but TwitPic's lightweight feature set makes it an ideal choice for posting photos to Twitter. With connectivity built into several popular clients, it's always easy to use.

15. Qwitter
When your follower numbers drop, find out who ditched you with Qwitter. More pertinently, it'll tell you the last tweet you made before they fled your feed.

16. Hashtags
Hashtags are the Twitter equivalent of threads. You can use Twitter search to track them, or go to hashtags.com to browse through tags as easily as navigating through blog categories.

17. MrTweet
Follow MrTweet on Twitter and the service crunches through your followers list, generating friend suggestions based on their choices. It's purely a numbers game - so @stephenfry will probably be at the top - but you might find a couple of interesting new contacts in the mix.

18. Favrd
Inspired by Japanese mash-up Favotter, this service tracks how many and which users have favourited your tweets. The opt-in nature of the service has made the top tweeter chart on the front page a little cliquey though.

19. TwitterCal
Can't be bothered tabbing back to Google Calendar while you're tweeting? Then add events to your schedule with TwitterCal instead. It's also handy for making updates while you're on the move - by SMS or mobile tweet.

20. Phweet
Phweet creates a URL that your followers can use to join in a voice call with you. With support for SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) and VoIP in your browser with TringMe - the service is currently flakey but full of promise.

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Like this? Then check out 12 Twitter-tastic apps to tame your tweets

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