Sunday, April 21, 2013

Notes Of A Reluctant Twitter Newbie - Thanks Neal, I Think

[Note:  This post is for people scratching their heads about Twitter.  I need to do these first impressions while they're still fresh in my head.]

As I started writing this, someone on the radio was singing "I didn't wanna do it , I didn't wanna to do it . . ." and I thought, how apt.  [If the culprit - Neal Mann - and I had our way, instead of the words, you would hear Judy Garland singing them.]  He baited the hook on Friday at his talk that focused on his use of Twitter as the social media editor at the Wall Street Journal.  

Saturday's talk at the Alaska Press Club conference on multiplatform storytelling - sunk the hook. There's some good video of Neal starting the session.

So here's my Twitter experience so far:

1. Signing up
  • You need a name.  I used mine.
  • Then a username.  Finding an unused username wasn't easy.  All the variations of What Do I Know? were already taken. (A reason I should have done this when first invited six years ago?) I'm not completely happy with the one I chose, but I like the idea and the alliteration:  whisper2world.  Seems appropriate to Twitter.
  • Password - they tell you how good it is.  I played around until I moved from 'ok' to 'perfect.'  Didn't need to type it a second time. 
  • Agreement wasn't even that long and unreadable.  Still, I only skimmed it.  
2.  Personalization and automatic follow suggestions.  You have to decide if you want this or not.  They'll recommend Tweeters to follow based on my browsing.  I didn't like the idea, but it said I could change it to 'no' any time.  Turns out I got all these recommendations, clearly not based on my browsing.  Mostly celebrities.  I have turned this off.  But they are still recommending people for me to follow.  I found instructions to hide the recommendations at this website.  It requires AdBlock+, which I have already, thanks to a commenter recommendation.  But I couldn't get the instructions to work.  When I go to AdBlock+ things don't look the same as in the examples.  Another website also wants me to use AdBlock+ and I found the page and pasted in the code, but it doesn't seem to work either.    It's annoying and I'll find better instructions.  (I thought maybe if I sign out and back in it would work, but it didn't.)

3.  First Tweet was a reply to Neal Mann's (@fieldproducer) Tweet that he was going to present again to the AK Press Club.
Thx for two great presentations in Anchorage. You pushed me over the Twitter cliff
There are too many in Spanish.  I'm hoping I'll be able to edit the list to work for me better, but it's a good start.  I'll substitute some German ones for the Spanish ones.  The lists are what he said would be a good way to set up your own personalized news feed.  This will take some adjusting, but looks promising.

For starters I'm following six others: Dan Bern , Mother Jones , Heritage Foundation , Citizens Climate Lobby , and Diane Benson .   I'm not sure how, but Diane found me as soon as I went live and is following me and somehow I was following her.  I don't think I did anything to make that happen, but as long as there aren't too many tweets, it's ok for now.   

 5.  It's not hard, but there are things to figure out.  The upper left looks like this:

When you put the cursor over the icons,
  • the little house says 'home,'
  • the @ says 'connect'
  • the # says 'discover,' and 
  • the pawn says 'me'
It's not totally intuitive what they have.  Connect relates to contacting others and discover is for finding others. 

Early Reactions:
  • Messages:  One thing I was hoping for was to be able to send messages to people I wanted to contact who only had Twitter accounts as contact info.  Your choices for contacting are to send a public 'tweet' or a 'direct message.'  BUT, you can only send a direct message to someone who is following you.  
  • Blog Promotion:  Perhaps I can use this to let more people know about blog posts, we'll see.  It won't matter if no one is following me I'd guess.  
  • Time Waster:  While this gives me very brief notices of things that are out there, this could be a giant time drain.  I have enough to write about without any help from Twitter.  I don't need to stay current on a whole array of events like a WSJ editor does.  Discipline, Steve, discipline.  
  • Links:  It says that links will automatically be shortened to 20 characters, but that didn't seem to happen with the first link I put in.  

Meanwhile, Twitter offers lots of help:

I found Twitter for Newbies
And there's also a Twitter Glossary.
And there are more pages.  Sort of like going on a trip and learning some of the basic language and customs of the country you're going to visit. 

But I also took today's (April 21, 2013) Doonesbury as a warning closer to my gut instincts.  Here's the last panel:

Last panel April 21, 2013 Doonesbury

[I'm not sure if the link takes you to this particular strip or the generic 'today's strip.' In any case this is the April 21, 2013 strip.]

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