1000 tweets but still not sure why

In December of 2008 I started using Twitter on a three-month trial basis. At the end of this period I reviewed my experience and devided to continue (see Three months a-Twittering). Just before Christmas I reached the one year milestone, at the same time posting my 1000th tweet and gaining my 1000th follower. So, what has all this activity achieved?

  • I have stopped using my blog to share resources, provide updates or make brief comments – these have all graduated to Twitter. My blog has now taken the form of a more-or-less twice weekly column on learning-related issues, which works well for me.
  • Twitter has provided me with a useful channel for notifying the learning community of my new blog postings, particularly for those readers who don’t subscribe through a feed.
  • I have enjoyed playing my part in raising awareness of interesting postings and web articles that I have come across. Twitter is definitely accelerating the spread of useful information across the learning community and this has to be a good thing. I like the fact that people who have a generally low profile can still reach a very wide audience when they have something important to share.
  • Twitter is one of the best and most rapid ways that I have yet encountered for obtaining answers to questions – what’s the best way to …? have you tried …? who’s available for …?

But I do have some misgivings:

  • Having Twitter up-and-running on an ongoing basis seems to me to be highly disruptive if you’re trying to concentrate (see The Case Against Multi-tasking is growing). On my PC I get audible alerts from Twhirl when each new batch of tweets arrives and it takes a very disciplined person not to check what’s come in (and generally speaking I can resist anything except temptation). I know I could turn the alerts off, but instead I tend to leave Twhirl turned off most of the time. When I’m out and about, on the other hand, I’m grateful for the chatter.
  • I’m concerned that we’re all becoming very good at passing interesting information on from one to another, but not actually reading and reflecting on any of it. It’s like making a recording of a TV programme – somehow it feels like that’s a job done, even if you don’t ever play it back.
  • Twitter seems to have very limited usefulness as a vehicle for discussion. Once a dialogue extends beyond a few tweets, there’s simply too much traffic passing between a very limited subset of the community. I’ve kept the number of people that I follow down as much as I can (although it does stand at over 100) in order to maximise the signal-to-noise ratio, but I’ve still had to un-follow a few colleagues who seem to bombard the network with tweets from morning to night – how do they ever get any work done?

So let’s give it another go for another year and another 1000 tweets. One thing’s for sure, the way we all use Twitter will have moved on again and quite unpredictably.

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