Twitter Status Update
One of my initial motivations for this experiment was shallow and vain: All the cool kids were doing it, and I didn't want to get left behind. But I'd also grown to enjoy writing status updates on Facebook and, having seen how some colleagues were also making effective use of Twitter, thought it could be a neat little outlet for the same sort of compressed-prose creativity.
I wrote about my Twittering in early May. That started a slow but steady increase in the number of people following my updates on that site; at the end of last week, I hit the meaningless milestone of 200 followers. (That's not counting a couple of spammers that I blocked from following me--yes, spam has spread to even this corner of the Web.)
A little more than three months after that first "tweet," I can pronounce my Twitter experiment a success. Twitter has become my public notebook, in which I jot down the one- or two-sentence comments, quotes and reports that aren't yet worthy of a blog post, but which I don't want to leave buried in my story-ideas file. (Some of my Twitter updates do turn into blog posts, some of which themselves eventually evolve into stories--which can in turn provide for follow-up tweets and blog posts. There's a bit of a circular food chain here.) In addition, Twitter helps me stay current on the thoughts of other tech-industry types--the reporters, analysts, consultants, publicists, developers and other people whose updates I follow or who post replies to my own tweets. And Twittering's forced brevity has pushed me to be more efficient in my prose everywhere else.
I've settled on a rhythm of five or six posts on a workday, with none on nights, weekends and holidays unless I stumble across something tech-relevant. (Like, say, the time I saw a plant called "fiber optic grass" at Home Depot and could not stop myself from Twittering about it from my phone.) Much to my relief, this hasn't proved to be the major disruption in my schedule that I'd feared it would become.
I've also been amused to discover how many public-relations agencies now follow Twitter full time. For instance, when I complained about one PR firm's spam filter blocking an e-mail from me that quoted their own pitch back to them, a representative for Symantec called to make sure it wasn't their server at fault.
My biggest complaint about Twitter is the same as everybody else's--its chronic unreliability. Its "Twitter is over capacity" message has shown up so many times it's at risk of getting burned into the monitor--and the cute "fail whale" graphic that appears on that page has since spawned its own semi-sarcastic fan club. I've also had a few posts simply disappear after I click the "Update" button, something that annoys me to no end.
Then again, all this downtime does force me to focus on my day job every few hours, so perhaps I shouldn't complain much.
Have you taken to Twittering yourself? What do see as your principal reward for that effort?
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