Monday, 14 June 2010

Thing 7: Twitter

I have been using Twitter enthusiastically, with a personal account, for over a year now. For cam23, I've created a new account for the Haddon Library and compressed a photograph to fit it.

I have three main uses for Twitter.

Firstly, I respond to other people's tweets, if only to thank them for longer messages that their 140-character tweets have led me to. Many of the articles I have saved to my Delicious account, or noted in my CILIP revalidation log, are things I first heard of via Twitter. With a lot of these things, of course, even the URL is too long to fit into a tweet, and the tweeter's had to use a shortener such as . Some people claim that that by itself shows that Twitter doesn't work. I'm afraid I don't agree. For me, part of the beauty of Twitter is that it points outside itself, and doesn't say it provides everything.

I admit that responding to tweets may afford opportunities for showing off, e.g. with quotations that seem apt, and at times this will misfire. But those around me are used to that by now.

Secondly, I tweet announcements about things that are inherently public: concerts my choir is singing in, Haddon Library closing times, &c. I think the biggest buzz I ever had from Twitter was of this kind. Shortly before the closing date of the 2009 Haddon Library poetry competition, I heard a poem read on Radio 3 and recognised it as one that had been commended in, and quite possibly written for, the Haddon's previous competition, three years earlier.

It seemed to me good to announce the poem's accession to the airwaves, by way of encouraging potential entrants in the 2009 contest. This was a Saturday morning, and I hadn't had breakfast. I raced into work by bike, opened the files from the older competition to check details, and put out the news on the Haddon's blog, in an email to the list of people interested in the competition, and in a tweet. Actually the information needed a couple of tweets; I don't know if the buzz was doubled.

Having got that out of the way, I went & had breakfast at Eat, and -- yes, we need to keep swatting a persistent misconception about Twitter -- not one word about that breakfast ever appeared in a tweet.

My third use of Twitter is to keep a constant advanced search, with an RSS feed tied to it, of local tweets that might be relevant. My inital hope was that this might give me some idea of what people were saying about the Haddon Library. Be it admitted, the reader feedback I've had that way has been very small; but this search has shown me a steady number of archaeologists and anthropologists to add to the people I follow.

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