Take Twitter for What It Is

Okay, I did my Twitter assignment last week. I read the two articles, “Clive Thompson on How Twitter Creates a Social Sixth Sense” and the Wall Street Journal article, “Friends Swap Twitters, and Frustration.” Here’s what I experienced:

  1. It’s easy to set up a Twitter account and start twittering. It’s a bit more difficult to figure out how to add friends or how to send them direct messages from Twitter. (Their help menu is limited.)
  2. It was easy to send out 10 messages, but difficult to write messages that I thought anyone would really want to read. I tried to think of substantial posts that would be meaningful and thought-provoking, but all I could think of was stuff like, “writing a blog post” or “finishing my work for the day.” Not exactly earth-shattering.
  3. It seemed that Twitter would go offline or I would lose the connection. I’m not sure if this was on Twitter’s end or mine, but I’ve read about this problem from other people. This creates an annoyance if I have a Twitter gadget on my desktop and it keeps popping up another window telling me that I have lost connection with Twitter and then I need to close that window. Very irritating.
  4. I think that to stay productive, you must limit yourself to when you will write and read tweets. After all, I’m the person who says to turn off those pop-up email notifications and only read your email 3 to 4 times per day. If you have a Twitter box open, you will be highly distracted and that will make you less efficient. Similarly, if you want to write a tweet, you will have to be VERY diligent in not reading the other tweets.
  5. I can see using Twitter to stay connected, but like all social networking tools, you need to organize and limit your use of them so that you don’t get overwhelmed. You could easily get so involved in Twitter that you wouldn’t get much of anything done during the day. In other words “Twitter carefully!”
  6. Twitter COULD be good at helping you know what your colleagues are up to that day, so that you could be sensitive to their needs. If you read a tweet from a workmate that says, “writing an article for a deadline today, highly stressed out” then you probably wouldn’t contact her. It’s like what Clive Thompson wrote, Twitter is “almost like ESP, which can be incredibly useful when applied to your work life.”
  7. I HAVE read some interesting tweets that I could instantly apply to my own profession. For instance, Ray Schroeder from University of Illinois, tweeted that he is using blogs as a presentation alternative to PowerPoint. I thought, hm . . . that’s interesting, something that I might use for my next presentation, especially on blogs. So, not all is gibberish on Twitter.

So, take Twitter for what it is . . . “social proprioception” (these are Clive Thompson’s words). He says that Twitter gives people a sense of what is happening around them, like your body’s ability to know where its limbs are. This social proprioception allows people to have sense of what others are doing and feeling. This can sometimes be annoying, but sometimes helpful.

As another option, a colleague from Albertsons Library told me about Jaiku. I have applied for an account, and it appears that this will soon be a Google company. So, as soon as I get an invitation, I’ll give that a try. Until then, I’m not sure how much I’ll actually use Twitter. But, if I can see what my colleagues are doing and stay up to date with them using this shortened messaging system, then it isn’t all that bad.

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