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BELLTONES: What’s All This Noise About Twitter?

By Mary Ann Bell - Posted May 1, 2008
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Early this past fall I got tired of hearing other people talk about Twitter and feeling left out. And I had been mentioning it as something new to the Web 2.0 world in presentations and with my students, but I felt a little hypocritical for doing so without participating. So I paid the site a visit and signed on. My initial impression was that the service was a novelty without much real content. "How much can you actually communicate in 140 characters or less?" was my reaction. I went ahead and joined, though, and spent a little time playing around with the site.

My early forays were to send out a message (usually a complaint or political comment that I wanted to air) and then immediately go to the main page to watch it show up. I enjoyed being anonymous and spitting out a gripe to no one in particular. Often by the time I could get to the main page, my comment was already halfway down the page. This told me a lot of people were using the site, something I found mildly interesting and fun but not compelling. There is something oddly mesmerizing about just sitting and watching people fling out one-liners from all over the world, in a hodge-podge of languages and about any number of topics. Most comments I saw at the site were pretty mundane. I liked the idea that I was somehow connected to all these people from just about everywhere, but to me it was little more than a diversion and certainly not something that I could see of use professionally.

In fact, I wrote about it in my blog in an entry called "I’m No Quitter…Just Joined Twitter" ( In my conclusion I remarked that many people seem to sign on but never really use the site. I learned that by searching for "librarian" and finding a lot of people whose most recent postings were very outdated and few and far between. This led me to say about Twitter, "For me, it does not resonate enough that I think I will be a regular user. It looks like fun, but I know myself well enough to know that I will likely just end up being one of the many people out there who have not updated in months."


For the following few weeks this continued to be my view. I would post an entry every now and then with the feeling I was just shouting into the wind. Then something happened to change my mind completely. I was getting ready to attend my favorite conference, Internet Librarian/Internet@Schools, and noticed on the event blog that people were sharing their Twitter identities and promising to use Twitter to stay in touch during the event. This provided a perfect way for me to learn about the service and also to get acquainted with fellow attendees. By the end of the conference, I was a total convert. I am now a daily participant. I enabled my cell phone to receive the messages, or Tweets, and signed up to follow the conference attendees who were using Twitter.


This article is available in its entirety in a variety of formats — Preview (free), Full Text, Text+Graphics, and Page Image PDF — on a pay-per-view basis, courtesy of ITI's InfoCentral. CLICK HERE.

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