Contemplating twitter

So…not an original topic as everyone interested in social media is currently navel gazing on the same subject but you can’t have a research diary without recording these thoughts…so here we go….current twitter status:  37 tweets in with 49 followers and following 85 people so its early days but my thoughts to date are:

  • I like it – I like the sense that you can grab hold of the slipstream of a conversation and join it for as long as you want and then let go – and the fact that it is always there to dip into.  You would drive yourself mad by thinking you can listen to all the tweets but it’s fascintating to be able to tap into the stream on consciousness on demand
  • This is a little dangerous as it means that you treat twitter like digital ephemera – but its not – its part of your digital footprint.  Are people not thinking about this or are they taking a ‘secuirty through obscruity’ tack on this?  Given how little people think about digital identity generally perhaps its the latter.
  • You have to remember that you are only listening to a tiny part of the world – because its fairly ‘loud’ in your digital set-up its easy to think its more important than it is – you need to have a sense of balance
  • I know I am dull on the subject but twitter is made for real-time web which means an iPhone (or the like) would really help here….
  • It can have a huge effect on blog readership – I have been tweeting new blog posts and there is a clear correlation in terms of readership.  No real sense as yet as to what makes this happen more or less – am currently just grateful that it happens at all!
  • I wonder if the new twitter lists will help or hinder – perhaps by organising the ‘stream of consciousness’ it becomes just another channel rather than something rather organic that you dip in and out of – but we shall have to see
  • That being said – I am very intrigued by the idea of country or county listsgood article on tech crunch on this – as this has massive potential for Local Democracy
  • I am following a few councils and the ones which I think work best actually seem to be thinking about what they tweet rather than repurposing existing RSS feeds

Will revisit this as a 100 tweet celebration to see if anything has changed….

  1. Tom Phillips

    November 6, 2009 at 10:14 am

    Interesting stuff. My own local authority is currently playing with Yammer as a form of in-house Twitter. I chose the word “playing” intentionally because, unusually, no one has said “Let’s do this in this way, in order to achieve A, B, C etc”. At least, they haven’t said it YET!

    Result is that colleagues are finding out for themselves how best they can relate to it, both in terms of what they put in and who has stuff they might want to follow. I’m realising that where the exercise has currently reached is a bit of a microcosm of the much wider e-engagement journey in society at large. Joining things like Yammer and Twitter involves a bit of a leap of faith – a “Let me see if this is worth doing” decision. I think even the large majority of my colleagues who know about Yammer are not persuaded there’s anything in it for them (yet), and are at the “Why would I want to do that?”, “What will I get out of it?” stage. Just like the average man/woman in the street in relation to active participation in some form of democratic activity, virtual or otherwise.

    Understanding what makes people join these things and what hold them back will be key to our knowledge of what works well, and what doesn’t.

    • curiouscatherine

      November 6, 2009 at 12:04 pm

      Thanks Tom – good point on Yammer – we have also been using it internally and I think it is useful – but as you say not entirely clear exactly how. What was interesting was the fact that I started the yammer ‘experiment’ with just a couple of people – but other people asked to join when they thought something interesting was going on and now we have around 2/3 of the company using it – I think proving your point that the motivation for taking part a huge point of deciding what works well. In terms of democratic stuff I wonder if part of it will be in proving who is listening to the conversation – in Yammer its clear – its your colleagues which brings work benefits – but how do we ‘evidence’ the importance of participating democratically?

      • Tom Phillips

        November 6, 2009 at 1:25 pm

        I tend to agree, though in an organisation as diverse as the one I am in, there’s some interesting work that could be done on who follows who on Yammer. It’s seldom directly linked colleagues who use Yammer to tie up. There are usually already other ways for them to do that. One thing I have found, talking to a few people who do and don’t Yammer is that an individual’s participation is still seen as being somewhere along some sort of “exhibitionism/voyeurism” spectrum.

        Happily (because Yammer and Twitter etc wouldn’t work otherwise)there seem to be plenty of people at both ends of the spectrum and across the middle, but it’s probably not the most sound or adult way of looking at what’s actually going on.

        I think the spectrum of views we need to be more wary of is one that runs from “I don’t think anyone will be interested” at one end, to “I don’t actually want any comments on this” at the other. Those are the sorts of things that are holding us back, and blocking access a) to things you’d be interested in if only you knew about them, and b) to things that ought to be exposed to comment etc, but are being hidden.

        The control freaks are always going to see social networking as subversive.

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