Why Twitter Is Worth It

I resisted Twitter for ages - the reason was two-fold. Firstly because I have too many distractions as it is; secondly and mainly because I didn't really understand it. It is too easy to go with the lazy interpretation of much old media, which dismisses Twitter as 'just a place where Stephen Fry tells you what he's having for breakfast' and all that stuff. Of course, Twitter does indeed serve that role for those who want it but it does a lot more than that, much of which is potentially very useful for Information Professionals. Why write the 68 billionth blog post about Twitter? Because it was my ignorance of what Twitter could actually be used for that prevented me from joining from so long, so here is a very brief 8-slide presentation about why Twitter works for me. (I've resolved never to make a PowerPoint using the default slides again, it's just too ugly. Style-wise, this is an homage to the likes of Helene Blowers and Bobbi Newmanwho perform the frankly sorcery-like trick of making PPts pretty...)

I should thank those other Info Pros who badgered me into joining (Woodsiegirl was definitely the ring-leader...) - ultimately the sheer utility of the medium overwhelmed me and I caved in. Part of the reason it works so well for us in the Library & Information sector is because so many of us embrace these kinds of social media - there is massive population of library related people on Twitter. Perhaps this is because it suits our interests so much - I was struck by a comment on Woodsiegirl's recent blog post about Twitter, where she debated the merits of separate accounts for work and personal. Annie (is that Annie_me from Twitter?) said in favour of just having the one account:

Chances are, if you’ve chosen to be an information professional, it’s because you enjoy the work and are interested in the wider professional context. ‘Work’ becomes ‘personal’, because you’re not just interested in things because it’s your job to follow them.

That's a very good point, and one I'd not heard articulated before. Of course Information Professionals like all this stuff! It's part of why we like our jobs, and further support for the idea I was getting at a couple of posts ago, that we do what we already love, and that's why we love what we do.

I'm no Twitter expert but while I'm on the subject, here's some things I've decided about it:

  • If you don't have a Bio, then I'm not going to follow you (unless your last few tweets are AMAZING!) - just put something up so we know who you are, even if it's just a job title and what country you're in
  • I am very weary of information overload - I really don't know how people cope when they follow thousands of others in Twitter (even if they do use lists..). I try and be as ruthless as possible and follow as few people as I can, rather than go for a reciprocal, follow everyone so they follow me back type of approach. It works for me.
  • Has there ever really been anything, in the history of mankind, where you don't get more out if you put more in? Twitter is like everything else - if you give of yourself you get more back. Being part of the community is great. Don't be afraid about showing a little of your personality either. (Assuming you have a nice personality)
  • As Joeyanne said in the presentation that got me into social media in the first place - you have to go where the conversation is. If at some point a lot of Information Professionals abandon ship and head for another micro-blogging platform, I'll be there, sheep-like, in their number.

- thewikiman

oh any by the way

The event that myself and WoodsieGirl are speaking at (a presentation on Marketing the Information Profession: Escaping the Echo Chamber which, to be quite honest with you, is looking awesome) is actually open to non Yorkshire & Humberside people. Originally I thought it was just for those from this region but in fact those from further afield can attend (although priority will be given to Yorkshire folk if it gets over-full). So, come on down! Especially students - there's no better feeling than earning some of your Information Management Masters fees back than by attending an event for free as a student, even though you're in full-time employment... Details of the event are elsewhere on the blog.

oh and by the way II

This post has been in my drafts folder for a while - since I wrote that the train strike has been announced, so I'll let you off if you can't come after all...