So what is it about Twitter?
Is it micro-blogging?
Is it about presence?
Is it about tweeting?
What about the irrelevance of what people are writing?
Recently some blogs have been posting about various e-learning and information professionals to follow on Twitter. I was on one list so this is not about sour grapes over not being on a certain list. I am not entirely sure of the value of these lists. It’s nice to be recognised as an information professional or an e-learning professional, but I have to ask why would I want to follow them? I would guess if they are on twitter then they have blogs which I can read what they are working on and what they think.
Some people have “complained” about irrelevant tweets and I am aware of some who have stopped following others because of their so called shallow and lightweight tweets. These people in my opinion are missing the point about the real value of Twitter. I am sure that they get something from Twitter, but you have to ask the question is Twitter about following people and reading informative Tweets or is it about communication and community?
I use Twitter in various ways, as well as informing my community that I am drinking a coffee, I also let them know about various (what I think are) interesting things I am doing. I tweet about blog posts I have made. I also use Twitter as a backchannel at events and conferences, finding out what is going on and what I find interesting.
However telling people is only half the story, maybe even as little as 20% of the story. The other key thing about Twitter is about communication, responding to other tweets, having a conversation. Responding to what others have written, or acting on what others have written.
For me Twitter is about the irrelevance, it is about the non-useful stuff. If all you ever post is what blog entries you have written, why would I follow you on Twitter, I might as well subscribe to your blog’s RSS feed.
I want to find out what you’re doing, but I also want to find out the mundane things as well. This makes for a more rounded conversation and community.
For some reason I have a reputation for just tweeting about coffee, which to be honest is not entirely unwarranted.
However for me Twitter is all about the coffee.
It’s the coffee you drink with colleagues during a break from work, where you discuss work stuff, but also discuss your commute into work, what you saw on TV last night, what bizarre thing you just saw, the weather.
It’s the coffee you drink whilst browsing the web and when you find an interesting web site and you post the link to your blog, in an e-mail, on your VLE.
It’s the coffee you drink in a coffee shop, where you’re reading the paper, reading a book, chatting.
It’s the coffee you drink in the Library reading a journal, a book, writing stuff.
It’s the coffee you drink with fellow delegates during a break or at lunch at a conference. Where you discuss the keynotes, the presentations, the workshops, where you are going next, your hotel, the food, the coffee, what you do, where you’re going, what gadgets you have in your gadget bag.
Twitter is about these moments, but without the physical and geographical limitations. Twitter also allows people from different institutions, different sectors, different organisations, different departments to share these moments.
When you decide to follow someone, ask yourself could you drink coffee with this person, would they drink coffee with you?
At the end of the day Twitter is all about the coffee.