two notes about twitter

1. I saw the Providence Public Library’s Twitter feed today and I like it. A mix of library information and links to their very amusing tech blog. I like it.
2. I just noticed Phil Bradley’s list reprinted over at Tame the Web. I’m in a weird position on Twitter because I’m followed by librarians, MetaFilter members and at least a good handful of real life friends and family. I follow maybe a ninth of the number of people who follow me. My feed is open so anyone can read it, but I can only follow so many people (and I do stay up to date on my Twitter feed pretty much always so this is important to me). Here is my version of Phil’s guidelines and there’s a sort of flow chart in effect here.
a) Do they Tweet in English (or possibly Romanian but I’ve never seen this happening yet)? If yes, go to b.
b) Are they spammers or hypesters (following over 5000 people? pushing a product?)? If not go to c.
c) Do they update more than ten times a day? If so, they’re too high traffic for me. If not, go to d.
d) Is their Twitterstream just an automated version of their RSS feed? If yes, subscribe. If no, go to e.
e) Do they @reply to people as the bulk portion of their tweets? If so, they’re likely not interesting to me (for me Twitter is like a news ticker, not a conversation). If not, go to f, g and h and choose one. If none of these apply, then don’t follow.
f) Do I know them or know why they’re following me?
g) Do I find them amusing, astute, informative or otherwise intriguing?
h) Do I want to direct message with them and find that I can’t because I’m not following them

In short, my sister’s Twitter feed is one of my favorites, followed sharply by a few bloggers I barely know and a few random librarians who amuse the heck out of me. Then there are 200 other people and all told I probably scan through 600-1000 tweets per day. This helps me feel less like I’m up here in the fortress of solitude when I’m in rural Vermont and helps me stay in touch with a lot of plugged in people in the profession. I send all of my Twitter-related “soandso added you as a contact” email to a special folder and scan through it weekly. If I’m not following you and you think maybe I might like to, please feel free to drop me a note and/or a comment. I’m not suggesting this approach for anyone else, but it works well for me.

8 thoughts on “two notes about twitter

  1. I appreciate your comments and no-nonsense twitter guidelines…kind of a twitter if/then list. I decided to try twitter at Providence Public Library a month or so ago and it’s been a lot of fun testing it out and learning more about its benefits while learning to steer away from time-wasting…still a lot to learn on both ends. So it’s great to share stuff with library tech-minded people who understand that dichotomy and get feedback, correction, affirmation, ideas…because this type of job can be isolating and the benefits not always recognized, if you know what I mean. And sometimes the benefits do not outweigh the time invested but we’ll never know unless we have the opportunity to test stuff like this out and get feedback from others. So thanks again for the feedback.

  2. I’m with you on c). It’s too overwhelming when people update too much and I have far too much to do during then day than keep up with that many twitters. Thanks, great suggestions here. :-)

  3. Hiya… really interested in viewing your version; I can see where you’re coming from with all of those points. Well, maybe except the Romanian point. :) I’ve just had a huge influx of new followers (well, huge for me) which I think are coming from the Twitter Add Pack collection and none of them are librarians or work in the industry so I’m a bit mystified, unless they’re just hoping for an automatic follow back which isn’t going to happen.

    You’re spot on when it comes to the number of people you can follow back, and I’m getting drawn towards resources like Twitter Deck which let me follow a lot of people but concentrate on just a few.

  4. I read an article a year or so ago talking about the concept of “ambient intimacy”; that seeing these little bits and pieces of others’ lives make us feel connected even though (arguably) we’re not. I know more about random librarians across the country thanks to Twitter, etc. than I do about a lot of the folks I see every day and I’m OK with that.

  5. I feel like for things like keeping current with the profession, ambient intimacy is fine. I don’t pretend that these people are my friends because we co-twitter, but I do know a little but about what they’re up to. It’s also been useful to me in a sort of lazyweb way to ask questions and crowdsource some things (easier if you have a lot of people following you). I don’t miss it if I’m on vacation for a week but if I’m home and working, it’s part of my info flow.

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