Sunday, 31 May 2009

Twittering on and on!

I have been using the micro-blogging web site, Twitter, for nearly 4 months now.  So, I think this should be long enough to critique it, especially as it's been quite an interesting experience - to be honest some of which I wasn't even expecting!

So, here are my thoughts and experiences, in no particular order, as a member of the tweeting fraternity:

1. The name's all wrong!  How can you possibly twitter on and on when you only have 140 characters (including spaces) at your disposal?  Mind you, having said that some of the people I follow do manage to twitter on by sending multiple tweets!  But, and this is a big but, although I didn't like this limitation at first - it frustrated me considerably - I am now a great fan, as it makes you think carefully what you are going to say instead of rambling on and on, ah la like blogging in general eh?!!

2. As I am someone who texts on a mobile using full words and proper punctuation, I really can't be doing with tweeters who use text-speak in order to cram more into their tweet!  I can't read it, I can't understand it, and I forget to read it out loud (which usually transforms it into something reasonably intelligible) - I thought one of the ideas behind Twitter was quick and lucid communications but there I'm obviously a deluded soul.

3. Depending on the words you use in your tweets, you can find yourself attracting some very strange and dubious people as followers!  I will save my blushes by not telling you about some of the people who declared that they were following me.  Don't worry, I have blocked them all.

4. 'What are you doing?' - so starts a tweet but, unfortunately, this often misleads followers to tell you things that, quite frankly, you are not interested in one little bit.  I really don't want to know when someone I follow is going to bed, taking a walk, going to the pub, having a cup of coffee .... such a big yawn time .... what I want from the people I follow is a short of mini conversation about ideas, developments, things to read, what's hot, etc. in my world of L&D.  The problem is that a lot of people who do this are often using Twitter to satisfy two quite different sets of followers - those with whom they have a professional, i.e. in my case L&D, e-Learning, alliance and those with whom they are connected socially.  If I were to use Twitter socially then I would set up another profile and keep it distinct from my professional one.

5. An etiquette of tweeting is beginning to develop which is quite interesting in its own right.  For example, should you always follow those who follow you?  No, not necessarily.  I get quite concerned when someone wants to follow me and they are following over a thousand others and yet have very few followers - I normally block these people!  In fact my aim is to have more people following me than I follow - I know, big head!  On top of which how on earth can someone follow a thousand plus people - they must do nothing else than look at Twitter all day?!  How should you use the 'RT' abbreviation?  Currently there is quite a debate about this which centers around IPR and quoting others.  I tend to use this when I replying to a follower's tweet so that other followers who may not be following this person can understand my reply.  As for # tags, well I still have to get my head around this one!

6. To tweet or not to tweet (ah, indeed that is the question!)?  I think that after nearly 4 months I can say 'tweet' but do so wisely and with a purpose.  If that purpose is from a professional point of view then set out to find like-minded souls who you may never have found via other means (this is certainly something which has worked for me), to exchange news, content, and views which can lead to their and your development and learning, and don't get into the habit of centering your day around tweeting - some folk really don't know when to stop (see point 1 above).

OK, they are my 6 of the best for now.  I'll probably blog again after a few months if I can add to this list and I'd be surprised if I can't!!

I've given a brief description below of all the terms used above which are in italics.  Please feel free to add to this list or to challenge their descriptions.  Also, if you are tweeter, then please share your experiences as well.

Blocked = Stopping a person from following you.
Followers  = Those people who will receive all your tweets.
Follow = Those people whose tweets you receive.
Profile = Your account, containing your details, etc.
RT = To re-tweet, i.e. allow your followers to see what one of your followers has written.
Tweeting = The process of sending tweets.
Tweets = Sending or receiving 140 character messages.