On blogs, comments and twittering

10 September, 2008

If you’ve looked at my sidebar in the last couple of months you may have noticed that I am ‘trying Twitter’. I’ve not posted on it yet as it has taken me a while to figure out if I like it and I think its useful. I’ve been twittering away for just over two months now and I think I’ve got it sussed.

First off I do like twitter, but I don’t love it! Here are the things I like:

Watching many conversations unfold in front of me and joining in if I have something to say.

As I have added more people to my follow list (I think I follow around 80 people at the moment), I can see the value in observing what is going on. While there is a lot of rubbish, it is easy to filter that out as I tend to skim the list, it is ever changing so anything that doesn’t capture your interest immediately is quickly gone from the page and forgotten. In watching the conversations unfold I have found a few useful links and come across a few people doing the same things as me, which has created opportunities to share and collaborate.

Keeping in touch with loose ties in my network

My follow list is made up of current work colleagues, people I have met once or twice through work, former colleagues and people I find through through blogs or twitter that I think might be interesting.

I really like that I can use it to keep up with what former colleagues, and various people I have met through work (but don’t work with) are up to, I’ve got many of them on my linked in profile, but I tend to only use that for contact details, twitter allows me to have a more active connection, which otherwise probably would not exist.

Following news

Over the last few weeks I have followed the launch of #iphone, #dnc08, #gustav and #rnc08 (for the uninitiated the # symbol denotes a tag applied to the tweet. Users include a #tag in a tweet when the tweet relates to a particular topic. These can be searched on using Twitter Search (formerly Summize), a hot one at the moment is #LHC – I’m going to be really peeved if I write this then the world gets sucked into a big black hole!) Watching each of these items unfold has been very interesting, with the iPhone it was all about where there was stock, which carriers were offering the best deals and how people were going getting it up and running. DNC and RNC resulted in a continuous flow of discussion questioning what the various candidates were saying, how the crowds were responding and in the case of RNC how the protests outside were unfolding.

Gustav was the most fascinating, I watched the search update and saw people supporting each other, providing advice, providing the latest information regarding traffic conditions, storm strength and evacuation points. A few different publications talked about twitter coming of age during the lead up to Gustav (I’m being lazy in not including a link… there are plenty out there), I could really see this. News organisations were using information coming from twitter to provide updates and in some cases were displaying #gustav tweets on screen during bulletins. It was a great example of how helpful a tool like twitter can actually be.

So where does that leave me?

As I said, I like twitter, but I am cutting back on my use. It is easy to get distracted by it, I am the type of person who needs to hit the off button to avoid distraction.

The bigger problem I have with twitter is I’ve found it has taken time away from this blog and commenting on other people’s blogs. I’d be happy with that if I felt twitter provided the same thing, but I feel like I am missing thinking through an issue in a greater depth. While twitter can allow for a conversation to unfold in real time, when using it I tend to only scratch the surface of an issue. I find blogging and commenting encourages me think through an issue in more detail than I do if chatting about it on twitter.

This is a really long post so I should stop it. The bottom line for me is, a little bit of twitter for the reasons I talked about is good and more blogging and commenting is required!

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6 Responses to “On blogs, comments and twittering”

  1. Andrew Mitchell Says:

    Mick,

    Thanks for these interesting reflections. I tend to agree on that Twitter is not the place for deep reflection, although some tweets can certainly make you think!

    I used four or five tweets the other day to reply to an interesting question from James R. I may have written more if it was on his blog but he would not have got his immediate need met by a blog post.

    I’ve noticed one further change in my behaviour. Tweets are replacing some of the very short emails to people in my network. That’s a good thing because I don’t have to actively delete the ephemeral emails. But its a bad thing because it is difficult to go back to find that one item that I remember someone tweeting about.

    Cheers,
    Andrew.

  2. Mick Leyden Says:

    Hey Andrew,

    Your right, there is plenty of stuff going on in Twitter that can be quite thought provoking and I do agree that it can be very useful in eliminating emails.

    Potentially an effective archive, search or filter system is something enterprise Twitter style clients need to include.
    mick

  3. maxelsen Says:

    Given the stuff I’m working on now, Mick, one of the fun things I see is that people say stuff in Twitter that they might normally put into emails – trouble is, it can get picked up by Google and your ‘private’ comment/direct message using Twitter ends up being, well, public (and seen by your followers!).

    Perhaps I need to rethink those cardigan comments… :).


  4. Thanks Mick, good summary of uses of Twitter. Although I’m on there, I don’t post much, although I agree that it’s showing its use as a ‘stream of consciousness’ thought among particular communities. Elusive and ephemeral thoughts….as you say, blink and it’s gone from your screen – and who has the time to go back among the tweets?


  5. Good post, Mick, I had some similar thougts recently, but I didn’t hit on the distraction point. It can be, so the off button is helpful. I’ve also found this recently with RSS.

    @Maxelsen: Your direct messages should not be visible on Google, and to be honest there’s not a hint of privacy with the rest of it. That should be pretty obvious I’d have thought?

  6. maxelsen Says:

    @Alex Manchester: definitely dms shouldn’t be visible to Google, @replies are. Obvious yes, but I don’t know that the brain’s necessarily engaged with some of the more rapid twitterers – same as blogs where people write things they later regret and it’s hard to take it down once released into the wild.

    And of course, even if you are direct messaging you shouldn’t really put confidential stuff there in case Twitter ‘breaks’. It does rather have a habit of breaking :).


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