What I Have Learned From Twitter

tweeterTwitter is a marvellous tool. You can get to know people, make friends, business connections, and discover more and more about the world than you ever knew possible. I’m not just talking about Twitter as a tool for the instant transmission of news stories, as it is evolving into, rather the smaller things that you pick up talking to people from all over the world.

The past few weeks I have learned many things from my friends on Twitter. For example, @jennybeanes tweeted a couple of weeks ago that she was going to have a Birch Beer and then record an episode of her Goblin Market podcast. I sent her a message that alcohol before recording is usually not a good idea. She replied that Birch Beer is not an alcoholic beverage, it is something akin to sarsaparilla. Hey, I’m Canadian, up here if it’s not root beer, it’s alcoholic.

Another example is the phrase “to blat”, which apparently is Kiwi for zipping, or driving around the city. Thanks to Phillipa Ballantine for introducing me to that. I had no idea. In Canada to blat is a rude noise that one avoids doing in mixed company.

Finally, from Michele Bekenmeyer come the concept of Oatmeal pie. Sounds yummy, and also it’s a great thing to shove down a rude co-worker’s throat while karate chopping her in the neck.

So, let’s put this all together, shall we?

I had a snack of oatmeal pie and birch beer before blatting around the city with my awesome Twitter friends!

The ReTweet is Dead, Long Live the ReTweet!

So here is the thing about Twitter. ReTweeting, the practise of sharing messages from people you follow to your followers, is a great thing. I ReTweet all the time. If I see something of value, something that I want to share, I am more than happy to click the little ReTweet button in Tweetdeck, and spread the message on.  But I have been thinking recently that I might stop doing this. It’s just too easy.

That is not to say that I will no longer spread messages around, far from it. But I am going to change them up a little before sending them. The value I find in a message that I want to share is usually more than the effort to just ReTweet it. If I think a message is sufficiently interesting enough to share, I want to personalize it. If I see nothing but a list of ReTweets in my Twitter stream, I am apt to ignore things. I pay more attention to original  messages, and I doubt I am the only one who does. So, any ReTweets from me will no longer be the original message prefaced by the code RT – rather they will be the spirit of the message, but given the attention and care I think it deserves.

This will be a more time consuming process, and I might not be able to share as many messages as I previously had, but I think it will imporve the signal to noise ratio of my Twitter stream. What say you?

Lost Gods Bitstrips!

Hey everyone, I got a very cool thing today! One of my friends on Twitter, @treed, is a Bitstips enthusiast. He has been listening to Lost Gods, and is enjoying is so much that he decided to make up a comic for it! Check it out:

This is what I love about both Creative Commons and podcasting. If I was a copyright freak, I would not be able to enjoy amazing creations like this, and if I wasn’t podcasting, treed would never have heard the stories! Its a very cool thing.

Just a reminder that everything I do is CC, so if you want to create something from any of my works, be it White Trash Land, Lost Gods, a short story, something here, remember to feel free, just let me know so I can share it!

The Sweet Irony of Twitter

I love all the different perspectives one can find on Twitter. I came across this one-two punch last night while scanning the Tweets. It made me think about different ways one can use tools.  Jason isn’t always this gloomy, but I just thought it was an interesting counterpoint to Keith and his new venture.

What about you? Do you find your online presence becoming more gloomy as the economy gets worse?

I knew I liked Twitter, but seriously!

My FriendFeed StatsSo, while Twitter is totally borked I have been playing around with FriendFeed. Now, I’m not ready to give up on Twitter, I will probably never give up on Twitter, but I’m thinking about how all of my eggs are in that basket, and I need to branch out a little, you know? So, there I am playing around with FriendFeed, and I find the little “Usage Statistics” page. And it shows my what percentage of stuff I put on the Interwebs is Twitter realted.

Yikes. That’s a lot of stuff!  I knew I loved Twitter, but this is sort of insane! Perhaps I need to look into more balance in my life!

The Soul of the Internet

I don’t know whether or not human beings have souls, and frankly, I’m not interested in that debate right now. What I do know, however, is that the Internet has a soul

Now, I know you are probably thinking that I have gone off the rails yet again. How is it possible that the Internet, a collection of data, really, can have a soul? How does that make any sense?

Consider Twitter.

Twitter allows for quick and easy communication between virtual strangers. Yes, distilled down to its essence, it is just yet another social media tool, akin to Facebook or MySpace but with a couple of differences. These are intimacy, and immediacy.

The biggest difference between Twitter and many other social media tools is that you do not have to be at your computer to use Twitter. You can use your cell phone to send text messages, or use a service such as Jott.com or Utterz.com to update your status. This means that you can send messages from anywhere, anywhere in the world, at any time, no matter what is happening to you. What is remarkable is that so many people are doing this in extraordinary ways.

I have been virtually present at the birth of several children, following excitedly along as nervous fathers send quick messages about how things are progressing. I have also been virtually present for less pleasant things; confessions, sudden realizations, and even for the recent and tragic death of a loved one

Not only can Twitter be anywhere your cell phone is, but the focus is on pure information. There are no games to play, no music to listen to, it is a purely textual connection between people, people who share their highs and lows, their most beautiful moments and their most terrible, as they happen

So, how then do I compare this to the soul of the Internet? Simple. Twitter is allowing for the increased connection between people, and the increased empathy of users. On no other platform have I seen groups so quickly mobilize to help each other. It is about people helping people, and all of this empathy, all of this energy, all of these human connections are getting sourced through Twitter. Twitter is becoming a giant repository for the love, compassion and understanding humans have for one another. It is making connections, friendships and partnerships. Everyday I see the best of people, all played out on Twitter.com.

How can it not be the soul of the Internet?

Your Media Face

I have been thinking a lot about on-line representation recently. Not that I am looking for an Internet lawyer, but rather, how we present ourselves to the public via our new media tools: Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, MySpace, etc…

Depending on how you use these tools, it can be very easy to have one consistent “face”, or aspect of your personality showing at all times. If your interest in these sites is primarily a business one, than you will undoubtedly be presenting a very business-like demeanor to the public in all of these locations. This will be different depending on the specifics of your business, your clients, your target market and how you attract customers, but I don’t imagine many people will post drunken pictures of themselves on Facebook if the profile is intended to be a business one.

This seems obvious, but what I am thinking about are the nuances; how are you perceived when users are paying attention to the small details. What happens when a user connects the dots, when they look at your different on-line spaces. Do you present yourself the same way on Facebook that you do on Twitter? Is your MySpace page more relaxed, have you added a few tracks from your favorite band there? Do you use Twitter to gripe and complain a lot, or do you get into flame wars on boards using your name that anyone can check out?

I think what I am mostly curious about is this; if someone met me in real life, would I be the me they were expecting me to be? Although I do not run a business, as a writer and a podcaster (more details on that coming soon!) I try to use these tools to make connections with readers and listeners. I try to help people where I can, however I can. Is that the me that comes through? What about things like this:

Tweet Sample

Or this:

Sample Two


Should I be dissing a belief system that some people hold dear? Should I be admitting to the world that I made such a foolish error? Should I call myself a dumbass in a public forum?

Have you considered the face that you present to the world with your media tools? How do you aviod the pitfalls of saying or doing something that could turn off a potential client, listener, reader, or friend?

Boyz in the Hoodz

Last night I should have gone to bed early, as I am still suffering from just about the worst cold I have every had. Instead, I was reading my Twitter stream, and came across this:


There I was, late at night, and I found a new toy. The deal is you can upload images, pick music, and the site will process a video automatically. I decided to play around and made a little video with some pictures from the park. It’s free to make a 30 second video, but you can do a full length one for a fee. Here is my first attempt:

Social Media Sherpas?

I just read an interesting post over at Social Times. The author recommended becoming someone’s social media sherpa, that is, taking someone close to you and helping them navigate the possibly rough waters of the social web. It is well worth the read, and I think the concept is valuable.

Learning to use tools like Twitter, Facebook and StumbleUpon are not very difficult, but for a first time user, it is easy to become overwhelmed. Having someone to point you in the right direction, even if just for a short time, can be a great assist. I had my own Sherpa, the Duct Tape Guy Sean McGaughey. In turn, I am helping a friend do the same. I helped his set up his blog, RSS feeds, and introduced him to Twitter. He is producing content nearly every day, and is reaching out and discovering his audience. It is amazing to see him become such an active user, and embrace these new technologies.

I also found it a valuable exercise – I had forgotten some basics of setting up a blog. I am working on a soon to be announced project that will use several different blogs, and going over the setup refreshed some tricks and tips for my own use later on. There are possibly of different reasons why this would be a valuable service. So, stop an moment and think – who helped you?  And who can you help?

The Interconnectedness of Information

I have been thinking a lot about information systems on the Internet, and how, more than ever, the way we use the Internet is getting more and more connected.

On the surface, this might seem obvious – one of the great early advantages of the Internet was the interconnectedness of information, using the now ubiquitous hyperlink. What I am talking about is more the interconnection of services that is becoming available, all dedicated to distributing your information when and where you need it.

I use many different web services, such as Twitter, Facebook, Jott, I Want Sandy, Gmail, StumbleUpon, Delicious, and Google Reader.  The list could go on and on.  Although separate companies, they are slowly but surely becoming enmeshed. Information can be transferred from one service to another.  I can call Jott, and it will post a message to my Twitter feed.  That Twitter feed will update my Facebook. That Facebook update will send out an alert to Friend Feed, and so on and so on. I can cross-post information, or announce to one service when I have updated another, spreading my message across the Internet.

Some people are becoming concerned with this, fearful that all this information can become overwhelming.  Recently on Twitter the Queen of Spain posted this message that encapsulated things perfectly for me:

“So am I just the crazy one who’s never gotten an IM via AIM from facebook as a friend updated her status…?? “

All of these pieces of information are being filtered through several steps, passed around the Internet, and getting delivered to you in a variety of ways.  Yes, it can be overwhelming. More and more people are joining the conversation, more and more people are getting involved, and it’s a very exciting time to be part of things.

What is important to do is to find the tools that work the best for you, for your different needs. You don’t need to be involved with everything. I use Jott rather than Utterz, because Jott works for me. I use Twitter rather than Jaiku or Pownce, because Twitter works for me. If you try to do everything, yes, you can get overwhelmed. If you focus on the most useful tools, you can easily enrich your Internet experience.

I have mentioned some of the tools I find useful. What about you? What Internet tools can you not live without?