Another of this week’s 23 things is Twitter. In my experience Twitter is a bit like Marmite. You either love it or hate it (or simply don’t get it). I love it, although if I had to choose I’d choose Facebook over it because more of my real-life friends and family are on there and there’s more to it. I posted a few weeks ago about the merging of professional and private lives via Twitter and the power of Twitter so I won’t repeat that here but I will give a brief introduction into why I love twitter.
The BBC and the 23thingscity blog both explain Twitter very well but basically people post messages (tweets) in 140 characters or less and often have conversations using these tweets. People have Twitter usernames, mine is @melon_h, which allows other people to find them and follow them. Unless you have protected your tweets anyone can follow you and you don’t have to follow them back but you can block people if you don’t want them to see you.
I have been on Twitter since 9/2/2009 (coincidentally I joined twitter about the same time I had my brace fitted. There’s no connection between these events except when I had my operation I did get lots of nice messages from various tweeps). I think my use of Twitter increased when I got a blackberry, I check it whenever I check my phone for messages or emails. It’s part of my daily routine.
Twitter works best when you take part in it. You need to interact with people on there otherwise you’re basically the person sitting in the corner listening in on other people’s conversations but turning away when people try to talk to you. It can be daunting sending that first message to someone you don’t really know but what’s the worst that will happen? They might ignore you but unless they’re a celebrity who gets hundreds or thousands of messages it’s unlikely (and if they are a celebrity they might just reply).
I use twitter mainly to interact with other librarians and colleagues (both former and present) but I have a few people on there I know personally not through work. I also follow a few celebrities and several organisations and newspapers. I do think being part of a network of librarians who tweet makes it more relevant to me than if I wasn’t using it professionally which may explain why people doing other jobs can’t see the point.
I also enjoy watching the Apprentice and question time while tweeting with other twitter users. I’ve had conversations about Neighbours, Eastenders, and One Tree Hill with people I only know via Twitter. Of course if you don’t want to know the results of anything you need to avoid twitter, much like that episode of Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads where they spend the day avoiding the football score.
Every day I see something that makes me laugh and something that makes me go wow. It’s probably my main source of news headlines, leading me to the whole story (usually on the BBC or guardian). I also am much more professionally informed because of twitter than I ever was before. When I was stuck in London last year because of the snow it was Twitter that kept me better informed than any of the rail staff or websites could.
One of the 23 things participants, Library Apocalypse, described Twitter as being like a radio. Always buzzing but you can tune in and out of it. I’d say that’s a brilliant description. One of the other good things is you can tune in and go back to interesting things by searching or using hashtags(#) to follow an event, conference, news story or any other stream. For example the # tag for 23 things city is #23thingscity. You can also retweet things you want to swear. According to my friend Jenny I do this a lot. I am offering no comment on this.
Thinking about Twitter for this week did make me wonder when I joined twitter and what I said first. Luckily (This sounds like a bad advert) there’s a site to help you find this out. It is called rather imaginatively my first tweet.
It’s safe to say I started tweeting when I was doing the film noir module on my MA!
Now that was my first tweet but what about the first tweet ever? According to the BBC it was “just setting up my twittr” personally I think mine was better!
Grace dent has written a book called “How to leave Twitter”, a few extracts have been published in the Guardian and make amusing reading (Grace Dent: 100 things about me and Twitter, Three typical tweeters, and Love in the Time of Twitter.
Whether Twitter will last or go the same way as myspace ( I used to log on to that all the time … I probably haven’t been on there for two years. Ooh maybe since I joined twitter!) only time will tell but right now I can’t imagine not using it.