I've been trying Twitter off and on for months now and just couldn't get excited about it. I hear all these great things, but somehow it just wasn't connecting for me, which is a little unusual since I tend to take pretty quickly to new technologies. So when Jeff Nugent from the Virginia Commonwealth University Center for Teaching Excellence emailed me about what he, Britt Watwood and Bud Deihl were experiencing with Twitter, we decided a conversation on the benefits of Twitter was in order. Thus was born our most recent podcast, during which they educate me about what I've been missing. It was recorded as our previous conversation was with the Pretty May Plug-in for Skype.
I have to say that these guys make a pretty compelling case for sticking with Twitter. Among their reasons:
- It's another channel for sharing ideas and coming up with new ones.
- It's a great way to get quick questions answered and to get links to articles and resources.
- It builds community, too. You get get 140 character windows into what's happening with people you may know through other venues, which helps build trust and connection--the basic currencies of the social web.
Of course there's more in the podcast, so take a listen here or just click on the title in the player above.
A few links we referenced in our discussion:
- From George Siemens--Twitter, Twitter, Twitter
- Will Richardson--Social Filters
And some recents Twitter-related posts from Jeff, Britt and Bud:
- Britt Watwood--Twitter Balance
- Jeff Nugent--Twitter-pated . . . well, maybe.
Jeff was also kind enough to send me some other resources to further persuade me:
After we recorded the call, Sue Waters, who may be the biggest Twitter addict I know, tweeted me to let me know that I'm basically a loser if I use the web-based version of Twitter. According to her, to get the full power of the tool, I needed to download Twhirl and sign up for Tweetscan.
Twhirl allows me to, among other things, receive automatic updates when new posts appear on Twitter, and Tweetscan lets me sign up for RSS feeds to searches of Twitter conversations. So I can put in my Twitter ID, for example, and find out if people are talking about me, part of that whole monitoring your online reputation thing (or perhaps simple personal paranoia). I can also look for topics and trends, something Britt, Jeff and Bud mentioned was so valuable in our podcast.
Wanting to give Twitter another chance, I took Sue's advice. I will admit that Twhirl is making monitoring Tweets a little less overwhelming, which has been one of my main gripes about Twitter. The jury's still out on Tweetscan, but I'm assuming it will be equally useful.
I can't say that I've been entirely converted, but I'm beginning to see the light. If you're on the fence, maybe the guys at VCU can convince you to give Twitter a try. And if you've already been converted, drop me something in comments about your favorite power uses. I'm open to whatever I can learn.
(Mea Culpa program note--I had some kind of brain cramp at the beginning of the interview and referred to Britt as "Britt Atwood" instead of "Britt Watwood." I'm apparently name-challenged, so Britt, I sincerely apologize. Bud, I would like to point out that at least I spelled your last name correctly this time. Jeff, the next time we talk it'll be your turn for me to screw something up, so get ready.)
UPDATE--Be sure to check out Sue Waters' post on Using Twitter--lots of great resources!