Sunday, May 27, 2012

Thing 4: Why Twitter isn't my idea of fun

I realise that Twitter is useful. I know there are some times when Twitter is the best place to go for infomation. I recognise that some people really enjoy Twitter. But, personally, I just don't find Twitter fun, and for that reason I don't think I'm ever going to be a major Twitter user.
I signed up in 2008, when I was giving a seminar about Web 2.0 at an ARLIS conference, and so, ahem, I needed to try out all the things I was going to talk about. I'm @sheilayoshikawa (using my Second Life name, because that seemed like a good idea at the time).

A while ago I came MinXuan Lee's Slideshare on How Twitter Changed my Life where she lists 5 stages of Twitter acceptance: Denial; Presence (actually getting an account); Dumping (using Twitter to tweet blogposts and point to press releases); Conversing ("I don't always post useful stuff but I do use Twitter to have authentic 1x1 conversations"); and Microblogging ("I'm using Twitter publish useful things that people read and converse 1x1 authentically"). I'm not sure how I'd distinguish an authentic one-to-one conversation from any old one-to-one conversation, but otherwise this seems helpful.

I'd found a number of useful twitterstreams for the ARLIS seminar, so I knew at once that Twitter wasn't useless, but I remained at the state of "Presence" for year or more, with just a few tweets saying things like "here's another tweet from me I'm not sure why I'm bothering". A few people started following me, which I found slightly baffling, and I started following other people.

Then I realised that it would be useful to alert people to my Information Literacy Weblog blog posts via Twitter. I used an app (Twitterfeed, I think) to automate a feed from my blogto Twitter, adding the hashtag #infolit to each one as well. This brought me into the "dumping" stage. However, I would argue that this is more meaningful than the word "dumping" imples, as people who are interested in information literacy and who like Twitter find this a good way to follow my posts. It means I make more effort to make it very clear what a blog post is about in the title and first few words and if I'm conference blogging I put the hashtag in the title or first few words so I don't have to do an additional tweet.

In terms of tweeting, I do some conference tweeting (although I mostly concentrate on liveblogging), and my other tweets are still very "now and then" - the odd extra tweet about information literacy and occasionally a more personal tweet. One thing is that I think if people are following me they must be doing it because of a professional interest in information literacy, so they probably don't want too much personal stuff.

However, the bigger reason is that I just don't really enjoy tweeting that much. I don't think this is because I don't "understand" twitter, or because I haven't found the right people to follow. I can see that some people are getting a lot out of Twitter; sharing ideas, sharing events, bantering, making friends etc. When I dip into Twitter (I don't monitor it all the time) I spot useful links and some useful news. I recently put a Twitter feed from #infolit onto my blog, and (since my infolit blog is my home page) that has been the most useful thing, and I follow up tweets from there quite a lot.
I've also found Twitter uniquely useful. For example, I'm a Flickr addict, and when I started to get a weird error message, searching Twitter meant I found out at once that everyone was getting this and it wasn't that Flickr had banned me. I liked getting the key soundbites from the LILAC conference via Twitter.

However, if I followed twitter all the time, I think I'd be a wreck. I get depressed about all this information that I ought to know about already and don't. I find my competitive streak rising to the surface as I start to try and compose tweets that are going to get retweeted. Although I have some people that are already friends on Twitter, there are also loads of friends who aren't, and somehow seeing tweets from some of my friends makes me feel totally inadequate in keeping up with friends generally. This is not fun, and with all the social media I do use a lot, there is an element of enjoyment. One thing is that I really like a visual aspect, which is why Flickr appeals.

Perhaps if I changed my devices of choice, and my habits, or had a personality transplant and went for some therapy, I might start to find Twitter fun. But I think it's more likely I will continue to use Twitter on a more pragmatic kind of basis. Meanwhile, I appreciate all the tweeting done by people that enjoy it more than I do. I wonder whether any other people feel the same about Twitter?

Pictures are of an unidentified bird (Tallinn, 2011),  ducklings (Blackheath, 2012) and a fine gantry of malt whisky (Aberdeen, 2011)

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