When I began to publish this blog in June of last year, a number of people contacted me to congratulate me on being so thoroughly modern (for a 50-something university President, at any rate). They were dead wrong. I was horribly behind the times. Rather than starting this fairly wordy blog, what I should have been doing is showing my presence on Twitter. Mind you, at the time I had no idea what Twitter was; I only became aware of it a month or two later when I noticed that a friend of mine was talking about being on it. So I looked into it, and being the kind of person I am I immediately joined.

I should pause here and explain the concept. Some call it a ‘micro-blog’: it’s a site that allows you to broadcast short messages of no more than 140 characters, and these can then be read by anyone, but more particularly by those who have declared themselves to be ‘following’ you. You can enter these messages on the web, or on your phone or PDA device.

Once I had registered I was stuck. I was up for this, but when I sat down to twitter the first time I couldn’t work out what I was doing it for. I was brand new, so nobody was ‘following’ me, and it just seemed daft to send a text message out into cyberspace with no particular audience in mind. So for a while I sent out some, it has to be said, pretty half-hearted twitterings. But I began to do something else with Twitter: I started reading other people’s thoughts, quite at random. Not the great and the good, but just unknown people I happened to stumble across. And suddenly Twitter became a window to the world, via the small thoughts and experiences and little triumphs and tragedies of people I don’t know except in snatches of 140 characters or less. And some people started ‘following’ me, even though heaven knows I wasn’t giving them much.

I am beginning to ‘get’ Twitter, and more to the point, I am beginning to like what it does. I give blogging fifteen minutes or so a day, and now maybe I’ll add 2 minutes for Twitterings. I hope I’ll get good at these little broadcasts; I’d like to do something original there, and am working on it. You can find me here – but come back when I get better at it, I hope soon.

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12 Comments on “Twittering”

  1. Wendymr Says:

    Some trends are here to stay; others need to be kicked out the door before they even get started. Twitter falls into the latter category, as far as I’m concerned. I’ve even started filtering out Twitter feeds to my social networking site of choice. (I’m just grateful that there’s no Twitter feed – as yet, and long may it stay so – to LinkedIn).

    Such is the level of aggravation caused by Twitter among many online (and even print) blogging circles that incessant users have become known as TwitterShitters.

  2. ultan Says:

    Agreed. Been using it for a long time now. Shortly you will find out a) there’s a lot of people with no work to do, and b) a lot of edgy “social media guru” arrivistes with no talent and nothing to say. However, why bother at all and not have someone else pose for you? You will like yesterday’s SF Chron article:

  3. ultan Says:

    “vonprond” – great user name!

  4. TheChrisD Says:

    If anything, this is a way to connect more with the students who also use Twitter.

    Not that there are all too many of us. I think at most ten I know of…

  5. […] Ferdy on Twitter! It does even up the whole “integrating with the students” sort of thing. Still needs to come to STOCS and win at Trivial Pursuit á la McClave. […]

  6. Iain Says:

    Let’s not be too negative. Twitter’s great for keeping up to date with the latest PhD Comics

    its also not bad for getting pithy updates from events such as conferences and (ahem) Academic Council meetings as they happen!

    Besides there’s a nice challenge to come up something lyrical or poetic in just 140 characters. Haiku of the digital age?

  7. A friend of mine (with a presence on Twitter) just gave me a really good description of it: it’s like making a 10 second phone call to someone and then hanging up – but doing it to hundreds of people.

  8. ultan Says:

    I see you get a mention in today’s Irish Daily Mail (a paper I read religiously every morning until the Polish guy tells me to either buy it or leave the shop). Apparently by using Twitter you’re sullying your reputation as an “otherwise intelligent man.” Any chance of a mention in the Daily Star in the offing?

  9. TheChrisD Says:

    Any link to this afore-mentioned famous article?

  10. ultan Says:

    The Irish Daily Mail don’t do a web version. “Too hard” I guess.

  11. Aidan Says:

    look to install tweetdeck it makes the management of conversions on twitter far easier to follow

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