Tackling Twitter

By Jennifer Tucker  

I joined Twitter about a week ago. Slow to the party by some social media standards, of course, but I sometimes take my time with these things.  Here’s some initial impressions for others considering tweeting in 2010. 

First and most surprising: I thought I would be annoyed by the limit of 140 characters, but I quite like it.  I’ve always struggled to be concise in my writing, and the strict limit is good practice in maximizing content value per character.  That said, I am NOT a fan of the apparent “Twitter dialect” of compressing all possible characters. “U r gr8t!” somehow loses the impact.  If I need a decoder ring, I’ve probably moved on. 

One factor delaying my Twitter debut was the deep-seated fear that no one would follow me, and that I would be all alone in a sea of tweets.  (The metaphor of social media sets up some serious ego issues…)  Not quite as bad as the dreaded slight of being “unfriended,” but still.  I needn’t have worried – a few friends and networking contacts soon jumped on board (whew).  Then to my surprise, I was suddenly followed by people I had never heard of.  The fundraisers, sure, I get that.  But the band in Chicago and the self-professed C++ hacker in California?  A little mystifying.

Like recommendations about blogging, a regular tweeting schedule seems a good idea.  So far, I have tweeted every day or two.  My guess is that I will continue this pattern, with perhaps a third of my tweets being headlines for commentary like this, about a third being pointers to other resources I like, and about a third being updates about what I am doing.  (I promise they will not be about my favorite cereal, or sitting in traffic, or the latest reflections on my toenails.)

Of course, all of this has ignored perhaps the most vital question before starting to engage with any new social media tool:  Why do it in the first place?  Frankly, for once in my overly goal-oriented existence, I really have no good reason.  I like technology, it’s fun, and it stretches me into new areas.  If it helps more people find me and my work and writing, that’s cool too. 

I was somewhat negative about Twitter before actually joining it.  It seemed like a superficial form of communication, and little more than a facilitator of the chaos filling more and more web servers.  I have since reframed my understanding what Twitter is, and what it can do.  With the increasing obsolescence of the structured and ordered library card catalogue, Twitter offers a tool for navigating and discovering content in a uniquely interpersonal way, serving as a useful filter through which to encounter a universe of emergent knowledge and resources.         

Follow 4tuckertalk on Twitter

One Comment