Tweet for a Week.
Twitter is certainly one of the big buzzwords of 2009. Time magazine has called it technology that will change the way we live, Iranian dissidents used it as a primary means of communication, both with each other and the outside world, as they protested the outcome of the disputed presidential election, and over two million people for some reason find enjoyment out of following the daily life of Asthon Kutcher.
So, what is Twitter?
Twitter is a microblogging service. Essentially, its very much like a blog, in that it’s a service that allows users to publish information. However, the amount of information it will let you publish in one go is tiny – a short sentence or a single image or a snippet of video. Twitter is by far the most popular of these services (while there aren’t official figures for the number of users, it’s thought to be as high as eight million), allowing users to make and recieve updates, known (somewhat unfortuantely, IMHO) as ‘tweets’.
Tweets are text-only and limited to 140 characters; it’s not refered to as SMS of the web for nothing! Come to think of it, tweets can be sent and made by mobile phones as SMS messages.
Why should I use it?
Widespread adoption of Twitter is a relatively new, but this hasn’t stopped some educators from getting, er, very enthusiastic about it, much like Time did. While the Practically Perfect Programmer has some doubts about it changing the way most of us live, it does have a number of potential uses for the Library workplace – many of which are listed at Twitter for Librarians: The Ultimate Guide, Why Twitter? and also at Twitter Explained for Librarians. Twitter’s usefulness will probably increase as we get more and more always-connected ‘smart devices‘ that send out updates to your always-connected smart-phone.
Hashtags & RTs
Hashtags are a kind of metadata that are used to bring together tweets by many different people on the same topic. Esentially, they’re twitter’s form of tags, only, rather than tagging the tweet after the fact, you must include the hashtag for your subject in the tweet. To create a hashtag, you simply preface the word you want to be the tag with, you guessed, it, a #. For example, if I’m talking about internet censorship in Australia, I might add the #nocleanfeed hashtag to the end of my post:
Internet censorship sucks! #nocleanfeed
People searching for information on ‘net censorship will come across the #nocleanfeed tag. They can then search for posts made with that tag, and see the discussion and comments from me, and from all the other people who use the tag.
RT stands for Re-Tweet. It’s very much like forwarding on an email you’ve recieved from one of your friends to another group of friends.
You can find out more about these terms and others, and some twitter conventions, at this, a href=”http://www.brentozar.com/archive/2008/08/twitter-101/”>Twitter FAQ.
- Sign up for a Twitter account, and send the Practically Perfect Programmer a link to you profile, so she can put it on the Participants Page.
- Follow some other 23 Things participants, and anyone else who catches your fancy, be it Stephen Fry or Ashton Kutcher.
- Post at least one update to Twitter each day for a week, using the #23uwa hashtag – you will not need to blog this week, though you can use the WordPress Twitter widget to bring your Twitter feed into your blog if you like.