As Stef said in her post last week, “Sometimes it may seem that those of us on the Project Play team glide through the Web 2.0 world with no problems…” Well, I can tell you with Twitter I plunged in, floundered, treaded water, and am now enjoying the swim. :-) I hope sharing my experiences will encourage you to play more, learn more, and fear less!
What is Twitter?:
If you aren’t already familiar with Twitter from attending our December 2008 Play Date “The Social Library“, here’s the 411. Twitter is…
- a free service where you can broadcast very short messages (called “tweets”) — 140 characters maximum — to anyone who’s signed up to receive them
- considered “micro-blogging”; besides being broadcast, messages also appear on a person’s profile page
- a web site where you can read the tweets of those whose updates you’re following
- a social networking service where you can reply and “direct message” those who are in your Twitter network
Why Would You Want to Use Twitter?:
You might wonder if the status updates you’d provide would interest anyone, or feel cautious about retaining your privacy. So maybe you’d want to try it out by setting up an account for your library, instead of for yourself! Here are some examples of libraries that are using Twitter to communicate with their customers:
- Menasha Public Library embeds a Twitter status widget on their web site using TwitStamp
- Oshkosh Public Library
- Missouri River Regional Library uses Twitterfeed to automagically publish RSS feeds as Twitter updates
- Houston Public Library
- a list of lots more at the Library Success Wiki
How to Find People on Twitter:
The first way I found people on Twitter was to visit the profile of the person who presented “The Social Library” Play Date presentation, Tasha Saecker. On the panel showing the Twitter users she follows (see an example at right) , I hovered my mouse pointer over each icon, and if I recognized the name of a library notable, I clicked through to see the person’s Twitter profile and updates to see if I wanted to “follow” their updates.
So far, I’m finding that following agencies & publications to get library and technology news updates, like those from ALA, ALA TechSource, Library Journal, PC Magazine, and TechCrunch are working the best for me. I’m not following so many people that the number of updates is overwhelming, and I’m seeing news updates that are relevant to my job.
Since then, I’ve found Twitter’s search engine handy for finding people with like-minded interests.
How to Use Twitter:
You can see a updates on a Twitter profile page — like the one for Library Journal — just by going to it like you would any web page.
But if you want to see tweets as frequently as they occur, I can recommend the Firefox add-on called TwitterFox. I started using it on Monday, and I’m really liking it so far!
It sits in the Firefox status bar at the bottom of the screen, and lets you know when new tweets arrive. You can customize it so each new tweet pops up, or — if that’s too much of a distraction — just have it show the number count of unread tweets.
You can read the tweets right within TwitterFox — you don’t need to go to your Twitter page. There’s even a small text window where you can update your Twitter status from TwitterFox.
In the words of David Pogue, in Twitter …
There are no rules, or at least none that apply equally well to everyone.
Twitter, in other words, is precisely what you want it to be. It can be a business tool, a teenage time-killer, a research assistant, a news source — whatever.
If you try out Twitter, please leave a comment here to ask a question or share your experiences!
I’m on Twitter as windyfox, and I’m still learning.
Remember to play more, learn more, and fear less!
- Sign up for an account
- Getting Started With Twitter
- Official Twitter Text Commands
- Twitter? It’s What You Make of It by David Pogue, New York Times, 12 February 2009
- TwitterFox, a Firefox add-on
- A Guide to Twitter in Libraries