Yes, I tweet.
On November 12, 2008, I joined Twitter and began to chirp with everyone else in Twitterville.
Twitter is often called microblogging, that is, short posts of maximum 140 characters. I’ll let the Common Craft show explain Twitter in Plain English.
You can find me on Twitter as @kmdk. Actually, my debut on Twitter was November 2, 2008 with @stcaccess. It was a move to promote the STC beyond the world as we knew it (with the blog and the discussion list).
You see, some community leaders in STC, the Society for Technical Communication, had discussed how to find new members for our society. Were discussion lists on email no longer the hottest attraction around? Where were the new members? I had recently discovered Digital Ethnography, a blog for “a Kansas State University working group led by Dr. Michael Wesch dedicated to exploring and extending the possibilities of digital ethnography”. One particular blog post had a video that caught my attention. This video indicated that if STC was a blackboard in a classroom, nobody was paying attention to it! STC, and in this particular case, the AccessAbility SIG, had to go where the people were, that is, our potential new members. STC Special Interest Groups are virtual communities, so they are online, of course. However, the online medium must be used wisely. The Society itself may have and need a home on a more traditional (at least on the surface) website, but it needed the organic arms that Google and other search engines would discover and relay throughout cyberspace.
In other words, the idea of trying Twitter was born. I started out on November 2, but it wasn’t long before I had to have my own account. @stcaccess is an account dedicated to topics about accessibility and technical communication. It could have a personality, but I couldn’t get too personal, if you know what I mean. It had to stay professional. If there were interesting conversations going on (Twitter is about conversations), I felt I couldn’t participate as @stcaccess. I became @kmdk.
Of course, managing two accounts was a pain, to be honest. Then I found Twhirl, thanks to @stcchicago. I could run both accounts at the same time with Twhirl. @stcchicago introduced me to Twuffer, too. Twuffer allows me to schedule tweets. What a perfect tool for a business or organization Twitter account! I use it, and I notice that @humanfactors uses it, too. As well as @stcchicago. Organizations have events or non-urgent issues that they want to report to their followers, and they don’t want to forget to do so. With Twuffer, I schedule 3 to 4 tweets a day at intervals. Spread across the day, the tweets should not overwhelm followers. Scheduling means that in a very short time, I can plan tweets for several days. Because I can plan them, I can also give meaning to the order of the tweets. For example, two successive tweets can relate to the same topic, promoting the idea of that topic. Could I call that a metatweet??
People who know how busy I am would think I am certifiably insane to take on this task. Well, we can leave that for another discussion, but this actually doesn’t take up time in the same way. I might have a task that will take me 3 hours of concentrated effort to complete. A tweet has only 140 characters. I can quickly type and send a brief message of that size on the train, in the bus, going to lunch, waiting for the water to boil, and so on. (I bought an iPhone about the same time that I began to use Twitter.) Because tweets are only 140 characters at most, they are easy to digest. I can read them all very quickly. Many link to interesting articles. OK, that can take time, but I mark those tweets for later reading – and I do get back to them quickly and read them – on the train, in the bus, …
Today, I saw signs that this was The Right Thing To Do. I saw and experienced conversations that only happened because of these small messages tossed back and forth on the internet. They were constructive, educational, kind, inspiring, moving. Yeah, they were! Specks in the universe perhaps, but mountains in the “twitterverse” – at least, my corner. And I felt really happy and privileged to see it all happen right in front of me. I will still blog on my various blogs, but now I have an easy outlet for sharing many of the smaller snippets of information that come my way. I did raise my eyebrows when I first heard of Twitter. Not any more. Tweeting is just fine by me!