Ah the Twitter Debate

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My colleague Mary Janzen has an interesing blog post about her trepidation to use Twitter, and I have to say that she's not the only one... I do follow some Tweets periodically (especially now that they are easy to read on the hall monitor), but thus far I have not joined in.

I have to agree with Mary that the word "tweeting" does not sound like a serious activity, so I'll replace it with the more academic "microblogging." And yet, I still won't microblog in public. What is my problem anyway?

It's a dual problem for me. One is that the microblogging is very micro, specifically 140 characters. It doesn't allow me the space to elaborate on whatever profound point I plan to make. Abraham Lincoln (or maybe someone else) is supposed to have apologized for not having a chance to shorten his first draft, and I knew exactly what the speaker meant. The short haiku like elegance required for a classic Tweet may take longer for me than a rambling blog post.

I could be a little more spontaneous (like in the ANGEL Doc meeting), but, seriously, I do not know who at Penn State is watching. I'm still a little unnerved (sorry). I really believe the adage that anything with an http:// protocol is potentially in public view even if it is "password protected"

The other issue is reading time. Unlike blogs, you have to follow Tweets fairly frequently to get the full sense. It's kind of like being on AIM and the cell phone...and when was the last time you saw me on AIM or a cell phone? It's a personal style issue. I do confess I like Twitter as an announcement platform (like PSU Txt), but again how many Tweets are announcements that are critical to me?

FYI - If there was an ETS Announcement Tweet channel, I would definitely follow the RSS

And finally there's the time taken to WRITE the 140 character messages. I did two days worth of recording my potential Tweets in a text file (see next blog post), and the output was what you might expect (which was a little punchy). For me they were written at pauses in my day when I was a little punchy, so yes there if is a goofy element.

After the two Tweeter production days, I went back to my old ways, and found I was less distracted (blissful silence broken by an occasional blog post).

That's not to say that I will never get a Twitter account or that I don't unerstand the appeal to so many others. But I will say I have new sympathies for the those who say blogging doesn't work for them.

1 Comments

I haven't read Mary's post yet, but found this one very interesting. Let me first say that it is very cool that I get to read your thoughts on your blog and I do appreciate that you take the time to share them. These spaces are little windows into thinking that are otherwise tough to open ... I read through your list of potential microblog posts and really liked some of them. I won't try to explain why I find Twitter (or blogging) valuable to me -- I think I've bored enough people with that. I will say that I am a very selfish twitter user ... I show up when I have a quiet spot in my day and chime in when I want to. A lot of times I'll scroll back through the day and do replies five or six at a time. My days are so fractured as it is -- sit down and read a quick 20 emails, jump up and go talk to someone, head to a meeting across campus, back for 40 more emails, write 10 tweets, reply to knocks on the door, pray to god I can muster the strength to post something half intelligent on my blog, answer email, etc that none of this stuff seems distracting. It is just another brick in the wall for me.

I agree with your "I'm not sure who is watching ..." thoughts. Either am I. I filter my writing so much. For all the talk of pure openness, I work hard to make sure my stuff falls within the acceptable limits of our environment. I don't have an anonymous Twitter account to say what I want -- I am colecamplese everywhere -- so I write knowing full well people are reading. Not sure how that makes me feel, but it is what is.

At any rate, I enjoyed the post and I really enjoyed the "fake tweets" you shared in your other post. They gave me a little more insight into your day. That to me is kinda cool. I saw another one of our staff recently join Twitter and it actually made me smile to see her words drift into my Twitter stream. And, BTW, we do have an ETS Twitter account -- etstalk.

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