Twitter – what’s the fuss?

I set up a Twitter account almost two years ago and then promptly let it languish.  Until this week I had tweeted a grand total of maybe five times.  I wasn’t sure why I needed it, and since hardly anyone followed me, I felt like I was talking to myself when I posted.

But Twitter has been in the news quite a lot the last the couple months: on librar* blogs, in tech media, and even in the NY Times. Two articles in particular convinced me to give Twitter another try.

The first is Twitter: Why You Should Care by Randy Cassingham of This is True, whose hook is, “This is the secret to making Twitter really useful: No one cares what it is you’re doing.”  That got to the crux of the matter for me: while it’s interesting to see one update a day or so from friends on Facebook, getting dozens of what-i’m-doing-right-now postings per day just didn’t capture my imagination, and posting them seemed narcissistic to boot.

The second article is a recent column by David Pogue of the New York Times, Twitter Is What You Make It, in which he recounts his former ambivalence toward Twitter, his foray into the service, and the results of his “Twitter for beginners” Google search, and concludes – well, you can probably guess.

So I decided to start tweeting again, and it does feel more useful to me this time. For one thing, there are a lot more people – even libraries and organizations – using Twitter; it’s a source of interesting links, ideas, and tidbits of information. For another, I used to post more library-oriented Facebook updates.  Now that a much higher percentage of my Facebook friends are from other parts of my life, I’m using that service a little  differently. I’m experimenting with Twitter as a primarily professional tool for posting quick thoughts and links of interest.

To get started with Twitter you’ll want to set up an account on the site, but one of the notable facts about it is that a large percentage of users do not post or read tweets via Twitter’s website, but through third-party tools and browser extensions.  This could be because the site is kind of clunky and unintuitive (another reason I didn’t really get into it in the past), but it is also due to the real-time, always-in-the-background way that people use the service. At a recent NEASIST meetup about Twitter (aka “tweet up”), attendees shared tips and tools they are using, among a lot of other interesting discussion.  The following desktop tools and iPhone apps are the most popular among folks I’m following:

After you set up an account, with or without additional tools, you’ll probably want to follow other users.   Once you find a couple interesting people to follow, you can find more by checking out who they follow, and so on. You might find these directories of librar* Twitter users helpful:

Oh, and if you want to follow me, I’m acbtanya.