Talking Tech Friday – Twitter

Well, Roseline’s done it to me – after I’d commented on her post last year about drawing the line at Twitter, she asked me to review it for Talking Tech.  I don’t mind too much, though, because I’ve been thinking I should probably give it a go anyway.  So, for once, I’m reluctantly trying out a popular web 2.0 product.  Don’t say I never do anything for you!

What is it?

Twitter is the ultimate in social networking.  Basically, it’s a service that allows you to send brief messages (140 characters or less) and updates to everyone who “follows” you, as well as receive similar messages from everyone you follow.

How does it work?

One of the side effects of doing these reviews is that I’m gaining a new appreciation for simple registration.  Twitter is lovely in this regard – simply supply your ubiquitous username, password, and email address, and you’re ready to go.  You can provide more information if you wish, but unlike many sites, it doesn’t make you feel like you should.

After signing up, you can search your email contacts (web-based accounts, like Hotmail, Gmail, etc.) for people you know that may already be on Twitter.  I found 6 people and chose 3 to follow (some of my email contacts are just acquaintances, I might not want to follow their every move).

The last thing in setting up is to send your own update.  I said “writing a review of twitter for Talking Tech.”  That seemed most appropriate.

Twitter archives updates from your contacts, so you can review the most recent updates on one page.

One of the first things I do when trying out any web service is check out the settings.  Twitter allows you to block your updates from their Public Timeline, which displays the most recent posts from all Twitter users (at least, who allow their updates to be public).

You can choose to send and receive updates in a variety of ways, the most common being your cell phone or IM client.  Of course, any text or SMS messages to your phone may be charged, depending on your mobile plan, so that is certainly a consideration.  I was able to configure my Gtalk account to send updates within seconds, so that would be the most convenient method for me.

Under notification settings, I usually turn off email notifications for any reason – I just don’t like having my inbox cluttered up with notices from the zillions of services I subscribe to, but you can choose which types of notices to receive, or none at all.

Finally, like most social networking sites, you can upload a profile picture and customize the design of the site.

Twitter has an open API, so it’s very easy for third party developers to come up with content and widgets that enhance the service.  The Explore Twitter page offers many of the options.

Possible Library Uses

There are several libraries using Twitter, including our own Casa Grande Public Library (hi Jeff!).  I can envision lots of possible uses – new acquisitions, service announcements, etc.  David Lee King has a list of 10 ways use Twitter.   I think it’s one of those applications that you have to try out for a while to really see whether it would be of use to you.

I know that other Tech Talkers have tried Twitter, so I hope you’ll share your opinions or experiences in the comments!

Reviews & Resources

iLibrarianA Guide to Twitter in Libraries 

Web 2.0 Teaching ToolsTwitter Tweets for Higher Education

Wired: Using Twitter to Review Twitter (from that, read the 10Zen Monkeys review – hilarious!)

Lifehacker: Different Ways to use Twitter

~ by Anali on February 22, 2008.

5 Responses to “Talking Tech Friday – Twitter”

  1. Hi Anali, this is a great help. I’ve always wondered why people would want to use twitter. Now you’ve given me the courage to try it on my own. Thanks for doing these reviews for us and always pointing out the library uses.

  2. Thanks for the mention. There are many, many things libraries can do for promotion using twitter. Twitter has had a bit more of resurgence lately with Ann Arbor Public Library investigating its uses. More here:

  3. Anali, that was a great summary of Twitter. It’s one of those 2.0 sites I’ve been hesitant to try as I can’t see how it would be useful to me. I don’t really text, but I like the library promotions and marketing angle mentioned through Casa Grande (and Ann Arbor via Jeff at Casa Grande). Thanks for wading into the trenches on this one for us. 🙂

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