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Twitter Tweet?

Can somebody please clue me in? Twitter looks… cute. But I don’t get it. Why would anyone care what I was doing every minute of every day? I’m really not that interesting. And how would I remember to update it every second? And… just… why?

[Update: I see David has the same question. Help us, please. I don’t want to be a fuddy duddy, but I’m confused.]

[Update nearly a year later: This post still gets enough hits (and even a comment or two) that I thought I’d just clarify: I use twitter. I’m addicted to it. I’m still not convinced that a library should have a twitter account, though I know it works for a couple of libraries. But as a tool for personal enjoyment and professional connections between librarians, it’s great… except when it’s down, at which times we all curse it vehemently.)

Published inSocial Web


  1. waltc waltc

    Well, if you’re a true extrovert, and if you’re always “connected”–then I can see it. Since I’m neither, it doesn’t (to use David’s phrase) float my boat. I’m guessing you’re not both.

    Now, as to David’s other question–why would this be an issue for librarians?–there I’m completely stumped. So far, I haven’t seen any suggestions that librarians owe it to the future of the field to be all a-twitter; I’ve interpreted the twitterers as showing personal rather than professional interest. As always, I could be wrong.

  2. Julian Julian

    I guess that Twitter is for the kind of person who can’t get enough of updating their MySpace or Facebook. I haven’t updated either of my pages on those in weeks, if not months.

    I guess that as long as RSS is attached to it, Twitter has to have some usefulness for the library.

  3. Joshua M. Neff Joshua M. Neff

    Well, you know, it’s social. It’s not just about anyone caring what you’re doing throughout the day, it’s being part of a network of people who are all sharing what they’re doing throughout the day.

    But Twitter scares me. I already spend more time online than I should, and I’m awfully obsessive about checking my email. Feeling compelled to constantly update what I’m doing is like going from coffee to crystal meth.

  4. Iris Iris

    Well, you make a good point about being in a network, Josh. And I guess all networks are only as good as the sum of their parts (and achieving critical mass of some sort). But I’m anything but extroverted and, while I’m almost always connected in some way, I’m not always broadcasting my connection.

    I guess I’m willing to watch this one out and see if library-connected-ness in this network becomes important.

    But I’m willing to be persuaded as long as someone can come up with a really compelling reason.

  5. The Shifted Librarian The Shifted Librarian

    Twitter may be one of those social networks that is actually more useful if you limit your connections, as opposed to something like LinkedIn or L2 on Ning where value is derived from having as many connections as possible.

    It also doesn’t have to be every minute of the day so much as broader updates. Kind of like blogging doesn’t have to be what I had for lunch today but can paint broader strokes. It’s what you want it to be.

    So in that sense, extrovert versus introvert and level of connectedness are not necessarily relevant, depending on how you’re using Twitter. Keeping your status private to family and friends and telling them the kinds of things you would when you’re catching up on the phone at the end of the day might be a satisfying use when your social connections are geographically spread out.

    I’m sure you’ve already seen them, but Liz Lawley’s posts on this explain this better – with follow-up at .

  6. Joshua M. Neff Joshua M. Neff

    I’ve thought about this some more, Iris, and here’s what I’ve come up with as an answer:

    I don’t know what Twitter offers in terms of practical applications for libraries. But if a bunch of library-lovers play with it, we may all start thinking of some. Isn’t that how many new tech toys end up getting applied?

  7. The Shifted Librarian The Shifted Librarian

    I’ll second that, Joshua. It’s the unintended consequences that are the most interesting, and Twitter has certainly built its platform in a way that encourages those to happen.

    I may write about this more in a blog post, but one thing I haven’t seen the bibliobloggers write much about yet is the way Twitter mashes up a variety of tools to provide multiple venues and multiple points of access. I think that’s a *very* important lesson for libraries and that it will grow as a trend in the outside world. Twitter is important to us if only for helping us see this.

    I seem to be more interested in the SMS possibilities of Twitter than others, which is why I’ve been mulling over how libraries might be able to take advantage of that type of access and service without having to build their own platforms. I threw out one possible idea in Steve Lawson’s comments – .

    This is a great illustration of why scanning is so important and why it’s okay (even necessary) to look at new tools and wonder about their possibilities for libraries. When they start as personal and spill over into the professional, they’re already going more mainstream and are “officially” a trend. What’s better is to spot them ahead of time so you can examine the transition and unintended consequence types of uses.

    So Iris, it’s great that you’re willing to keep an open mind and watch what happens.

  8. Iris Iris

    Oh, I’m always happy to watch stuff happen. That’s never the problem. It’s the DOING that takes time and energy. :)

    But this is all really interesting! Seems like there may be library application down the road, even if it’s mostly by analogy (if I understand your comments, Jenny). See, this is why I like blogging. I learn so much from you guys.

    I’m probably still not going to sign up for my own account just yet.

    *having visions of librarians of yore saying the same thing about IM accounts… shuddering… trying not to think about it… thinking about how much time I’m already spending in social networks in vain attempt to make myself feel like less of a stuck-in-the-mud… failing… oh well*

    But I’ll definitely keep watching what other people do with this.

  9. rthuffman rthuffman

    I have to say, I didn’t get it at first either. But my posts on Twitter, and those of the people I follow, are more like short blog entries. They express opinions, but in 140 characters or less.

    Look at is as the haiku of blogging.

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