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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" (http://drmabell.blogspot.com/2007/09/im-no-quitterjust-joined-twitter.html). 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 I learned that by searching for "librarian" and finding a lot of people whose most recent postings were very outdated and few and far between.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."

CONVERSION

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.

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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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