Social Enterprise

A quick Twitter guide and glossary for business users

For a service that is remarkably simple, Twitter is often difficult for new users to understand and to quickly turn into a useful tool. Here are 10 core Twitter concepts to help new business users get started.

For a service that is remarkably simple, Twitter is often difficult for new users to understand and to quickly turn into something useful. In fact, the simplicity of Twitter can actually be a barrier in the beginning, because there's not much to help a new user get started.

So in order to assist business users and IT professionals in getting up to speed on Twitter, I've put together this quick collection of 10 core Twitter concepts that you need to understand in order to turn Twitter into a powerful 140-character communications tool.

This is part one of my three-part series on Twitter. Here are links to the other parts:

Who to follow

The first thing you need to figure out is who to follow. This, more than anything else, will determine how useful Twitter becomes for you. For business users, I'd recommend following many of the colleagues you work with on a regular basis. While some of them may post useless ramblings, you're also likely to pick up project updates, inside perspectives, and subtle red flags that you would not have seen otherwise.

Of course, what makes Twitter most powerful for business users is following experts and thought leaders in your field and industry. For tech workers, I've put together a directory of techies who are active on Twitter. I'd also recommend finding thought leaders in your specific industry. Directories like Twellow can help. But the best method is to find a few industry experts, then look at their profile pages to see who they follow. You're very likely to find other industry experts.

Never be afraid to follow new people. Give them a try. However, if they post useless stuff, simply unfollow them. You should regularly unfollow people who simply don't provide much value. This is part of the regular rhythm of Twitter because Twitter makes it very easy to follow and unfollow new people. In fact, after a couple years on Twitter, I've now got a few people whom I've followed and unfollowed several times.

For more insights on using Twitter in business and other tech topics, you can follow my Twitter stream at: @JasonHiner

What's a tweet?

The word "tweet" is a Twitter term used as both a noun and a verb. As a verb, it used to talk about a user posting something on Twitter. For example, "She tweeted that she was flying to a business meeting in Seattle with Microsoft." When used as a noun, it refers to an individual Twitter post. For example, "He posted a tweet last week that included a link to screenshots of Mac OS X Snow Leopard."

What's a retweet (RT)?

The "retweet" (often shortened to "RT") is something that was not originally designed by the Twitter team, but Twitter users invented  in order to re-post something really interesting from another Twitter user. For example, if another tech journalist (e.g. Harry McCracken) posted breaking tech news on Twitter, I might quickly take Harry's post and re-post it like this: "RT @harrymccracken Google announces it is launching its own private space program."

The reason I would post something like this is because not all of the people who follow me follow Harry, and I find it important and interesting enough to share with as many people as possible. It's the social networking version of word-of-mouth.

By the way, Twitter recently announced that it is officially adopting retweeting, with plans to streamline the process for users, integrate retweeting into Twitter.com, and build the new retweeting functionality into its API.

Replies and mentions

A "reply" on Twitter is when you directly respond to a post from another user. For example, Sascha Seagan (a PC Magazine editor) recently tweeted, "I'm back from vacation. What I learned: Yes, AT&T coverage is much better outside NYC." I replied, "@saschasegan In Midwest, AT&T network is infinitely better than NY or SF, but still not as reliable or widespread as Verizon."

As you can see, you start a reply with the @ symbol and then add the person's Twitter username. The Twitter.com home page makes it easy to reply to a tweet by simply mousing over it and then clicking the reply arrow. It automatically populates @username in the posting field and then you fill in the rest. Twitter client software (see below) also makes it easy to reply to a tweet.

Similar to a reply is a "mention." This is where you mention a person's name and since that person is on Twitter, you identify the person by using the their @username. For example, I might tweet something like, "While I was in New York today I had lunch with @ldignan to discuss our coverage plans for Windows 7 on ZDNet and TechRepublic."

Also notice that every instance of an @username is turned into a clickable link that will take you to that user's Twitter profile, where you can then choose to start following the person. Plus, on the Twitter home page you'll see your @username on the right column of the screen. When you click this, you'll see all of the replies to your tweets and mentions of your username. This is useful because there may be times when people you don't follow mention or reply to you and this allows you to catch it.

Direct messages

There may also be times when you want to reply to someone one on Twitter, but you don't want everyone else to see the message or you just don't think it would be useful for everyone else to see. In that case, you can send a "direct message."

To do this from Twitter.com, go to the person's Twitter profile page and then go to the right column under Actions and the click the "message" link. However, keep in mind that you can only send direct messages to people who follow you. This prevents the direct message feature from being used by spammers.

I've also found that the direct message feature can work almost like an instant message to get someone's attention, if the person is a regular Twitter user. It can often be a quicker way to message someone than e-mail, but less intrusive than a text message or instant message.

#Hashtags

Another Twitter convention that users developed without the input of the Twitter staff is hashtags. Hashtags are essentially keywords. For example, #techrepublic is a hashtag. When people post links to TechRepublic articles, they often identify them by adding the #techrepublic hashtag at the end of the tweet. Other popular tech hashtags include #windows7 and #iphone, for example.

Doing a Twitter search on a hashtag allows you to see all of the Twitter conservations that are happening around a specific topic. It can also be a good way to find people who regularly talk about a specific topic and then follow them.

One thing to remember about hashtags is that they are not case sensitive. So, #techrepublic is the same as #TechRepublic or #TECHREPUBLIC.

Posting links

Some of the most popular things to post on Twitter are links to articles, blog posts, video clips, etc. Some of the most valuable people to follow are the ones who post the best links, and that means not just the big stories that everyone is tweeting but also the really good stories that are under the radar.

The problem is that Twitter posts are limited to 140 characters and most article URLs are 50 characters or more. That doesn't leave much space to post the title of the article or any brief thoughts about it. As a result, most people use URL shorteners such as TinyURL when posting links on Twitter. My favorite URL shortener is Bit.ly, because it allows you to shorten URLs to about 20 characters and it gives you some basic analytics on all of your Twitter links.

Desktop clients

Most habitual Twitter users don't spend much time on Twitter.com. Instead, they migrate most of their Twitter use to desktop clients while they are working from their desk and smartphone clients when they're on the go.

The most widely used desktop Twitter client is Tweetdeck, although Seismic and Twirl are also popular. Tweetdeck is an Adobe Air application that runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux. It provides a columnized view of Twitter with columns for your main feed, your mentions, your direct messages, any #hashtag searches, and more.

One of the best parts of Tweetdeck is its ability to create groups. For example, I have groups for "Tech Journalists" and "CBS Interactive" (my work colleagues) so that I can view them in separate columns. Another nice feature of Tweetdeck is that it automatically refreshes, so you can just leave it open and let it do its thing in real-time.

For those who prefer to stick with Twitter in the Web browser, Twitter.com is still not your only means of accessing the service. Tweetvisor is a powerful browser-based Twitter client that puts a lot more Twitter functionality at your fingertips than the standard Twitter homepage. There are also a variety of Firefox plugins that can ramp up the experience of Twitter in the browser, including PowerTwitter, TwitterFox, and TwitBin.

Mobile clients

You know you're getting addicted to Twitter when you start looking into how to use it from your smartphone. I know plenty of techies who use their smartphone as their primary method of accessing Twitter and the desktop is really secondary.

While you can use Twitter via SMS, I wouldn't recommend it unless you have an unlimited SMS plan. Plus, the Twitter mobile apps typically provide a much better experience by making it easier to reply, retweet, send a direct message, etc. Here's a breakdown of some of the top Twitter clients on each of the big smartphone platforms:

Posting photos

Another interesting (and occasionally even useful) thing to post on Twitter are photos taken from your smartphone. This can be especially useful when you're at trade conferences and industry events and you want to report on items of interest.

The most popular tool for posting photos on Twitter is Twitpic because you can use it from any cellphone with a camera. You simply take the photo with your phone and then email it to your customized Twitpic email address and you type your Twitter message in the subject line of the email. The challenge with this is that there's no character count in the subject line of an email so you have to be careful to not make your message too long. If it's over 140 characters it will simply get truncated.

Flickr has also come up a service that is virtually identical to Twitpic called Flickr2Twitter. So if you already have an active Flickr account, it makes sense to use Flickr rather than Twitpic because then all of your mobile photos get added to your album, rather than creating a separate album on Twitpic.

Further reading:

About

Jason Hiner is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about the people, products, and ideas changing how we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the upcoming book, Follow the Geeks (bit.ly/ftgeeks).

40 comments
sonotsky
sonotsky

...I'd only opened an account in order to follow the traffic feeds from my local AM station. However, one day 6 months later, I found myself staring at the Who To Follow and Similar To You sections. I gorged at first, racking up almost 350 accounts to follow, but have since halved that. Also, after a bit of trial, I settled on Twitbird for an iPhone client. I found it to have the slickest, most functional interface. I only wish that it was easier to get at my following/followers lists, but that's a minor nit.

avakava
avakava

It is really great that such a guide is made available. I am struggling to get good grasp Twitter tricks. This would surely make it easy for me and others. Thanks Krishna

king.david
king.david

Several replies discussed whether use of/appreciation for Twitter is a generational thing. My guess is that it's more dependent on personality type. I have plenty of technical background. I worked as a programmer/analyst and network administrator, and now teach those subjects at a college. I have used the Internet since 1989, and word processing and spreadsheets since 1979. I own a domain, and run a mail server. I spend hours on the computer every day, using office applications, my own programs, an e-mail client, and web browser; but I have never used instant messaging, never been in an Internet chat room, never used Facebook, and I will probably not use Twitter. Why? Because I'm an introvert; I'm a private person, and have no desire to share everything about my life in real time, or learn in detail about anyone else's life. Similarly, I've had a cell phone since 1993; but I use it for phone calls, not to access the Internet, and definitely not to send or receive text messages. As an introvert, I tend to live an inward-directed life of thought, rather than an outward-directed life of social interaction. I'm interested in lots of topics; but if they are significant, I will spend days or weeks thinking about them, so it doesn't matter if I learn about them 30 minutes earlier. I can see how Twitter could be valuable to other people, but it has no appeal for me. I feel left out because I "don't get" Facebook and Twitter -- but that's a feeling I've been familiar with in social situations for sixty years. An introvert often feels like an outsider when dealing with a crowd of extraverts, who are all insiders because they "get it." Fortunately, it doesn't bother me in my 60's like it did when I was a teenager, because I understand it, and because I'm more self assured. Note that like most introverts, I am not antisocial -- I just have to consciously work at being social, where it comes naturally to extraverts. We have one daughter who is an extravert, and she falls naturally into the role of social instigator and lubricant for the rest of the family, who are all introverts. As far as I know, only two of our kids use Facebook at all, and only two of them use text messaging. Only one used instant messaging, and she grew out of that phase before her senior year in high school. If you are a technophile, but find little value in Facebook or Twitter, consider whether you are more introvert than extravert.

ryan101
ryan101

I usually do not have the time to breath on fast paced projects and have broadly stayed out of Twitter. As a business user most of my work has been in dealing directly with people and the challenges in their environment, rather than the problems of the world. Having said that, this article appears to be more like how to use the tool and who to follow, rather than how can I use it to help people or use it for help on my projects, I am sure if I have the time and get more involved, I will find a use for it.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Many people who favor Twitter talk about the immediacy of updates. I'm going to make the dangerous assumption that these people access Twitter via a cell phone. Maybe one of the reasons I don't get the value of Twitter is the same as why I don't have a cell phone: I don't feel a need to be in constant contact or continuously updated. Does Twitter require round-the-clock dedication? Is a cell phone a requirement? Can it provide value to someone who might only access it during working hours on a desktop computer? Or, assuming I can't get it unblocked, someone who only access it two or three times a week, also on a desktop computer? Maybe this is why I couldn't follow conversations; I wasn't accessing it often enough to keep up.

PMPsicle
PMPsicle

Are you trying to save it???? :D I think you meant conversations.

NotSoChiGuy
NotSoChiGuy

Personally, I am not a Twitter user. I don't currently have the need for the as-it-happens information feed. That said, I can see some applications for the tool, and it is obviously quite popular. I've had a few people ask me about it (family tech guy...no need to say more), and I wasn't able to give them much in the way of assistance. So, I appreciate being able to direct them someplace where they can get some of the questions answered. Thanks!

jkiernan
jkiernan

I'm just not getting it. Am I the only one having issues with Twitter's existence? I can see it being useful in a time-sensitive project among team members, but other than that, why bother?

PalKerekfy
PalKerekfy

Thank you, this is a good summary for someone that knew close to nothing about Twitter.

difarber
difarber

I intend to read and to implement what I learn from this guide. I am confident that it will help.

rld
rld

Helpful explanation but TYPO ALERT!!! => Which *is* it? "Hashtag" or "Hastag"?

Osiyo53
Osiyo53

Certainly there is something to what you say. But, to me, there is more to the question of the usefulness of Twitter than that. I am a working technical person. And have a need to stay on top of things. However, I don't find Twitter useful for that purpose. (1) During my workday, I am not about to take time out to be regularly and routinely checking Tweets. I am simply not personally inclined to do so ... I'm busy and concentrating on the tasks at hand. And the company I work for probably would not appreciate my wasting all that time while on the clock. (2) When I do need info, I need solid well thought out and presented info backed by facts. I am not a writer or news reporter. I work with real hardware and applications installed in real situations accomplishing real work. Getting "instant" notification that so-and-so person or company is about to release some new app, equipment, or whatever is pretty useless to me in my normal workday. 95% or more of that kind of thing turns out to be much ado about nothing, anyway. In the long run. I do follow breaking news and developments ... but on my own time, not at work. Such is interesting ... but not necessarily useful. I deal in the real working world. For instance, one manufacturer of equipment we regularly use, install for customers, program, etc will release some news alert about a new development. Okay, that's interesting. But no more than that ... for some time. Often, for the next year or so. As we, as a company, are not about to leap in and start selling and installing whatever new thing instantly. First off, we're going to want to know a LOT more info about whatever. DETAILED info, complete with substantiated and provable numbers to prove whatever claims the manufacturer is making. Then, typically, we'll buy ONE of whatever. Set it up and do our own in-house testing. WE are the experts on real world deployment and use. Not the manufacturer. Its what we do for a living. If whatever appears to be worthwhile, we'll sell one or two installations. Alerting customers that this is a test, offering suitable guarantees and such to get their agreement. Then we'll keep track of the success and performance of these new installs and deployments over a period of time, never less than 6 months, usually a year. This is our testing and debugging period. IF everything works out satisfactorily, we'll start routinely selling the new whatever. We're not in the retail consumer business. Don't sell something that costs a couple hundred bucks to some sucker, I mean "customer", while promising miracle performance and ultimate satisfaction. Then make excuses when whatever does not met the customer's expectations/needs. We do commercial/institutional business. And our customers both expect and require certain guarantees and warranties of performance, results, and so forth. So we're not about to install anything not thoroughly tested, at least mostly debugged, and whose performance and usefulness is proven ... not simply touted or asserted by some salesman/marketing type. So learning about the latest hype, as soon as possible, is not really all that useful to me. Likewise, knowing every little thought of the "experts" that passes through their minds is also not useful to me. Regardless of so-called "expert" status, they are routinely and regularly wrong or at least miss the "bulls-eye" in their evaluations and opinions. Not that what they think is of no interest to me. Just that its not of IMMEDIATE interest to me. I can just as well read it later, at my leisure, when I have time to think about and consider whatever it is that they assert. And have the time to do some lookups and fact checking/verification. In short, not being a news writer ... I don't find Twitter to be of much, or any, real use. As to the social content use, I really don't care to know what whomever is doing, thinking, etc all of the time.

Dave Keays
Dave Keays

Then I saw it saving peoples lives in emergencies I thought otherwise. Ham and C/B radios are useless also but weren't they in most tornado shelters before cell phones became common? There are ways to control Facebook and Twitter to conform to your needs. It is just a tool and can be both used and abused well.

VickyToo
VickyToo

I know that Twitter is the latest killer app, but I just don't have a burning desire to be that connected to people and I don't want people figuratively peering over my shoulder. Of course, I am a baby boomer, so maybe it's my generation. Are there any Gen Yers out there that don't use Twitter?

Zpunky
Zpunky

I fully agree about it's uselessness in terms of an every day interface for getting relevant information as it promotes ADD-like work habits; watch this, track that, follow up over there, oy, 3PM already, now where was I?. Given the mounting pressures to accomplish more with less, I feel that last thing I need is yet *another* shallow (info-wise) information outlet I have to track. Unfortunately, I see this as a technology fad that will infest the business process, undermining productive work habits. It is the ADD techies out there, the lowest common denominator of a focused work environment (not a slam, just a fact), who will drive Twitter's adoption as a mainstream 'media' source. As such, I plan to familiarize myself with it.

Craig_B
Craig_B

I agree with you and just don't really get it. Anything important is put up on a web site or other media in a more elaborate story usually within hours or a day of a tweet. Unless it is really earth shattering news, it can wait. I do appreciate the article though.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

Sorry for the confusion. Typos fixed.

Lazarus439
Lazarus439

I'm amongst those who do not see the payoff in adding another distraction to my life. That said, I really appreciate this "Twitter 101" series of articles because it will get me started if/when I decide to risk some time playing with it.

Baruch Atta
Baruch Atta

Here is fair warning: I delete any and all tweets, followers and followees that are BUSINESS RELATED. I refuse to allow SPAM on my Twitter. Notice to all Business Twats: Stay away from Twitter. There is a movement in Twitter for this. We feel very strongly. Any businesses that send tweets are BLACKBALLED. I will do no business with any business that tweets. Be warned.

jkiernan
jkiernan

Ham and CB radios are definitely not useless. They may have become dated with technology's march, but they can and do still serve a purpose. Also, I should point out that both of them do not require a third party's service to be functional, as cell phones are dependent upon their carrier. It's neat that Twitter has been useful in saving lives and breaking news, but that's far from its intended purpose.

Dave Keays
Dave Keays

I would appreciate it if you could give a detailed discourse on the controls FB allows you.

jkiernan
jkiernan

To me, Twitter fails the definition of killer app. It does nothing to save me time or make my work simpler. If anything, it appears I need to expend significant resources to see even a marginal benefit. I'm younger than a baby boomer, so I don't see it as generational.

bigjude
bigjude

Perhaps that's because I'm 71?????? I've used the Internet and Web for 16 years now and have always considered myself an early adopter. I'm thinking of getting off Facebook because it's a timewaster. My only reluctance is that so many young people who I communicate with in my hobby of promoting a cattle breed use it. But they don't actually say anything interesting. We just touch base socially. Please someone,preferably a really busy someone, explain what Twitter does for you.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

With Twitter, you can follow the right people and ditch an RSS Reader. If you follow smart people, they will surface the best and most important news much more quickly than sorting through a bunch of stories in RSS.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

You helped provide the impetus to write this article because in past discussions about Twitter you requested a quick Twitter glossary. So here it is. Now I'm expecting big things from you on Twitter. ;-)

toca
toca

I can certainly empathize with your frustration, but "blackballing" goes against the spirit of setting up a Twitter profile. What you are missing is a way to filter the streams more effectively, if you will. I recommend you visit www.orsiso.com and, if you're serious about creating a "social firewall" of all your social networks and profiles, download the OrSiSo client. You will never have to "unfollow" Tweeters smitten with twitterreah. You have five "circles" with which to parse your contacts streams regardless if they are on GTalk, Twitter, AIM, LinkedIn, Flickr, etc. You assign each contact to a circle (i.e. inner circle for family and close friends) and outlying circles depending on interest and relevance. Obnoxious posters can be stranded in the outer circle, which you don't have to visit unless you want to. This way you can combine business and social networks on one client with no problems.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"Notice to all Business *****: Stay away from Twitter. There is a movement in Twitter for this. We feel very strongly. Any businesses that send tweets are BLACKBALLED." I'm not sure how Twitter can be used for spam. Don't you have to choose who you follow? If you choose not to follow a business, how is it spamming you? On the other hand, say I want to follow a business. Maybe one posts about new opportunities to bid on contracts. They find it an inexpensive way to attract vendors, and I find it an easy way to locate opportunities. Or say I want to follow a business to see when they put certain products on sale. Why should you and your 'movement' be allowed to dictate what is considered acceptable content? I support your right to not follow any person or business that you don't like. However, you have no right to infringe on what others choose to post, especially if the content falls within the boundaries of Twitter's TOS. I don't like everything in the bookstore, but that doesn't give me the right to ban what I don't read.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

First of all, you can't "delete" someone else's tweet on Twitter. You simply unfollow a person so that you don't see their tweets in your stream. Also, Twitter has decent mechanisms for handling spam. You can block any user, and the only users who can send you direct messages (DMs) are the people that you follow.

~rpb~
~rpb~

...at the inane replies to Jason's very excellent article (as well, the others in the series). Most of the replies do the very thing they fuss about being true of Twitter. I, too, tried Twitter, but found it to be more bother than brainy. But the problem is not Twitter...rather, the problem is the Twitters...or maybe I should just call them by the older word, Twits, who gunk up an excellent tool with inane babble, as though anyone really cares. But, to trash the service is just dumb. Personally, I really appreciate that Jason has helped me see that what I hated about those who tweet may finally, at long last, be mitigated by yet another positive trend to succinctly point to valuable resources and spur of the moment/nick of time info.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Sounds like you just traded one for another. You phrase it like there's something distasteful about using RSS or checking a web log. "Twitter provides content ..." As far as I can tell, it provides LINKS to content; the actual content itself appears to be minimal. Maybe I'm not properly interpreting what I'm seeing. Why limit myself to just the artistic output? Because I don't care about the rest of it. I don't care what trade show or convention the artist is attending. I don't care who they met or partied with. I don't care what they're reading or what they have planned for their next off day. I'm not interested in their "social presence" on other sites. Timely? I guess I also don't care if I get something immediately or a few hours later. People frequently comment on how Twitter gave them immediate updates on a California earthquake or the Hudson River plane landing. That's great, but if I'm in the earthquake or on the plane, I already know I've got a problem. If I'm not, then I don't care if I don't learn about it until I hear the radio on the way home or read tomorrow morning's paper; the delay isn't going to affect me. Much of what's posted strikes me as being like the Chrome OS announcement - a bunch of people falling over themselves to be the first to give their opinion on something no one will see for months. EDITED - I'm really not please with the tone of this post. I think it reads more hostile than I want it to. I'm not anti-Twitter, but I'm also not following your explanation.

toca
toca

It's all about the tools you use to get the streams you want. Twitter provides content (not just news) almost in "real-time." The peculiar reality, as Jason noted, is that most Tweeters don't use the Twitter page. With the way you use Twitter I assume you'd have to wade through alot of posts from whichever feeds you receive in addition to the web-comics content you're interested in. That's assuming your feeds only update new comics. Normally these content providers have a "web-presence" that includes not just blogs, but multiple social network profiles, affiliations and interests. With Twitter you get more from your sources in a more timely manner than you would a "regular" blog post. But why limit your streams to just the comics whoever you follow puts out? If they do other interesting things you can follow them on Twitter and find new resources without having to visit their blogs. I use a client that allows me to create five "circles" of streams from all my IM and social networks. In your case I would create a circle for all the web-comic providers so you not only filter other things from the stream, you also can add their Flickr, Facebook, LinkedIn and Gtalk, etc. streams. I also have a circle for companies I do business with as well as another for all NHL (National Hockey League) Tweets. But mostly Twitter has helped me kick my RSS feed habit.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

My primary use of RSS is to subscribe to a couple of dozen web comics. Most of the authors / artists also have Twitter pages. They post on Twitter when they've added a new comic to their home pages. What's the advantage of repeatedly checking a Twitter page to see if they've added a post, then seeing if that post is a new comic or something else, then having to click the link; vs. letting RSS monitor the home page itself for me? Some of these comics only update once or twice a week; wouldn't I spend a lot of time filtering out Twitter posts I didn't care about?

toca
toca

I learned early, thanks to Jason, that the quality of the Twitterati you follow is the key to getting something out Twitter. The Tweeple I follow post things that are interesting to me so I get up-to-date streams on issues I like to follow. After I started using Twitter I don't login to FeedDemon as often as I used to; no need. Many of the streams I get are from bloggers I follow.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I don't know what it takes to kill one. I requested it be closed just after my last try, which Twitter reports as being over a year ago. 'I?d recommend following many of the colleagues you work with on a regular basis." In the process of this, I found many people with names similar to co-workers. The vast majority (over 75%) of these folks appear to have active accounts but no posts. Somehow they've managed to attract ten, twenty, even hundreds of followers without saying a thing. In any case, I wasn't able to locate anyone of the dozen or so names I tried in my department. I finally found one young man who worked for us temporarily last year, but I didn't care about his travels. Following co-workers doesn't appear to be an option. I'll try working my way through your '100 tech experts' list, one or two names at a time. I'm not sure how I'm going to overcome my reluctance to click abbreviated URLs. Update: first ten names and only one post of interest to me - a link to an article about why the author didn't use Twitter. Everything else was either personal content, out-of-context snippets of unreconstructable conversations, or resulted in an inability on my part to determine what the poster was talking about due to abbreviations or brevity. Since I don't use instant messaging, most of the abbreviations are unfamiliar to me. I know I'll get out of this what I put into it, but I can't see myself keeping a web page of abbreviations open so I can translate posts into English. A large minority of posts are links to content about Twitter itself. A few link to Jason's list two or even three times. I find myself rewording my sentences here so they'll include articles and pronouns. Reading so much abbreviated content is negatively affecting my already poor writing style. Update II, names 11-20 - #13, Peter Cashmore - @mashable does not exist. "This person has protected their tweets." That's nice, but how am I supposed to figure out what Person A is responding to when I can't read Person B? #18 Larry Dignan - Literally every ... single ... post ... is a link to an update on Larry's 'Behind the Lines' web log. Back to one of my original questions: Why follow him on Twitter instead of RSS'ing his log? Update III - Just for giggles, I switched from Jason's list to Twitter's "Recommended Users" I saw no one who made my index finger twitch toward my mouse's primary button. I had no luck searching for any relatives. Enough of this for one night. To quote Calvin, "This is a big fat waste of my time!"

Becca Alice
Becca Alice

I'm also a Twitter cynic - I have friends who post everything from their Twitter day onto their blogs, and it's a mess of irrelevant commentary and indecipherable allusions to conversations with one person. Focused Twitterers posting information relating to my life would be more useful - but I'm already short on time, and using it to read commentary 140 characters at a time isn't effective when it's material that may or may not be applicable to my current needs - and eats a lot of time 140 characters at a time x Y number of times per day. I might find a gem but have to read a lot I don't need to get to it, when research time would be more effective for me. However, I am still considering it for topic-specific subscriptions, and if I do take the plunge, this will be very useful information as a foundation so I appreciate your time and effort. ^_^

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Seriously, I appreciate the recent articles. As to expecting things from me, I don't see myself getting past 'Stage 2'. http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/hiner/?p=1567 I found I had nothing to say when I tried maintaining a web log, or during my previous Twitter excursions. I don't see myself even 'retweeting'. I can't stand running a search and getting 8 gazillion results that turn all out to be just links back to the same single original source; I'm not going to generate additional redundant links myself. I'm not as a creator of content or interested in developing an audience. If I try Twitter again, it will be as a source of information; and your trilogy is definitely good reference material for following. However, we've blocked Twitter at work. Based on my last check, I found anyone worth following already had a web log anyway, with better content than their Twitter page and without the mind-numbing personal content.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

that thinks it owns the Internet. It's just another idjit upset because the rest of the world has discovered the hang-out previously known only to the 'cool kids'. If doesn't like the way some choose to use Twitter, there's nothing preventing him from creating and funding an exclusive replacement.

Becca Alice
Becca Alice

This has the same flavor as an Urban Legend since it doesn't hold up under logic.

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