Monday, 15 March 2010

Thing 15/16: Twitter

I already have a Twitter account. I wanted to see what all the fuss is about. I don't tweet. I follow a handful of random people: a couple of journalists whose columns I like (you often find them trying out material in their tweetings), an artist, a film director, and Stephen Fry (obviously; though he has become a very infrequent tweeter after a period of disillusionment)! I was amazed by how quickly you can find yourself in strange and/or super-famous company you can find yourself in after a very few clicks through followers (and followers of followers) - very 'six degrees of separation'. And I found unexpected liaisons: like a relatively obscure American comic-book artist getting wished happy birthday by Lynda laPlante!

My contributions are limited to the occasional reply to someone (usually a compliment to an artist I follow) and the even more occasional retweet (usually something witty by one of the journos I follow).

I searched for tweets tagged "#ox23" and discovered little enthusiasm for Twitter among participants. For the purposes of the project, I tweeted an abbreviated version of the above.

I find myself a bit underwhelmed by the possibilities of Twitter for academic, work-related affairs. I often find this with 23 Things. I wonder if this because some of the tools we're being introduced to are more appropriate for other purposes, and that trying to co-opt them for work or academia is against their grain; or whether I'm not giving them enough of a chance or using my imagination enough to see how their use can extend beyond my own prior, often minimal needs (for e.g., look how something as seemingly superficial and benign as Twitter became politically significant recently); or whether my problem is that they all represent another barrage in an onslaught of information without the promise of presenting it more constructively. I guess an advantage of Twitter is that the information is bite-sized, with the option (via links) of accessing more information; good for updates and alerts maybe.

The issue always seems to be, which tool is best, where several seem to compete for or overlap functionality. For example, I see that one of the enhancements to Twitter is a site called Twitter-feed, which enables you to feed content from your blog to Facebook or Twitter. Since there are tools for directly following a blog, it seems superfluous to have a feed also going to Twitter. I guess if you want maximum coverage of your puny blog-thoughts, and have Twitter Followers who aren't iGooglers, or Facebook-friends who aren't Twitterers. I'm getting a picture where, if you think of yourself as a producer of content, you do it once - say in a blog - then have a set-up where that content is easily and automatically disseminated to all platforms, without you having to re-transmit manually to every platform. Makes sense, assuming you want to transmit the same content to all audiences: 'friends' 'followers' etc. But why does it make me feel exhausted and in need of an hour in a floatation tank.

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