Thursday, August 12, 2010

Why is everyone all a-Twitter?

What kind of trick does an old dog have to do to get a tweet around here?

Ha ha, Kathleen. Very funny. See, that could almost be a Tweet. It's short enough. It's rhetorical enough. It's plenty cliche. But it doesn't answer the big Twitter question. What's happening?

Image Credit Aaron Riddle

When the TopDownCrew decided to Twitter (or should that be tweet?) recently, I was eager to buy a ticket and hop aboard. I've been feeling without it (as opposed to with it) lately because everyone else seemed to be twittering, and I wasn't. I wasn't face-booking or my-spacing either. But I really enjoy this blog, and since most of my Rider sidekicks are way ahead of me in the social networking department, I said, "Goody, goody. How should I set myself up? Do I need an account? Do I get to have my own whachamacalit? Avatar thingie?" (My grandson informed me that an avatar is not a thingie. He's a very sophisticated 6-year-old.) I was told I could do as much or as little as I pleased. Cool!

So I found an eagle design, and I did the profile, and I opened my beak and made a couple of bird sounds. It took the better part of a day and some patient tutoring on the road to the realization that this would not really be a conversation. I clicked into some of the links on various tweets and retweets and discovered that a friend was going to the beach, another getting a pedicure, another starting a new chapter. Okay. Soooo what did you . . . oh, wait. Here's one I don't understand. Those aren't words. Hey, I've got some vowels I'll sell you. Cheap! (No, Kathleen, that's Tweet!)

Day 2 of my foray into Twitter: I close my separate account. I retire my cool avatar. With just a teensy bit of sadness I decide I'll do my bird calling on the TopDownCrew account for now. Twitterspeak ruffles the old English teacher's feathers a bit, but it strikes me that "tweets" are like headlines, and writing them is a wonderful exercise--the kind teachers use a lot. Focus. Make your point. Give me a precis, a log line. It's like the old telegram--a little before my time, mind you, but you sent a message and paid by the word. Great way to get announcements out. Or jokes. I followed a retweet to Stephen Colbert, and I was soon laughing my head off. Great online entertainment. (Aaagh! Where did the last 30 minutes go?)

I enjoy blogging because it's a two-way street. Unless I'm missing something, that isn't the purpose of Twitter. You follow people who do something that interests you. You find out what they're up to in 140 or fewer characters. I know a few people--mostly Eagles--who wish I would get my message across that succinctly, but it doesn't happen very often. So I'll contribute my bird calls to the TopDownCrew tweetings, and I hope lots of Twitterers will follow us.

I'd love to hear about other people's experiences with Twitter. What do you get out of it? What do you expect from a Twitterer?
Do you follow personal friends? Celebrities? Politicians? Businesses? Do you respond to tweets? What's with the "retweeting"? What do you think of the 140 character format? Doesn't it lend itself to misinformation, misunderstanding, becoming the dreaded "Tweet of the Day"?


Beth Solheim said...

I love Twitter, specifically TweetDeck. TweetDeck lets you link to your other sites like Facebook, etc., so dual correspondence goes out. Retweeting is important, because those who retweet are reaching a different following. I've gained many new readers by Tweeting and the 140 character format works for me.

krisgils33 said...

I have a Twitter account which I rarely use or access. I singed on follow about 20 famous people (musicians and authors mostly), but I don't really get how it works and don't have enough time to learn. Since I started doing the FB and blog thing, I think getting on board the Twitter train would just be one more thing that I don't need.

Cindy Gerard said...

Love the twitter post, Kathy. And I know I need to get more than one foot on that train - as I have now. For me, it's a question of making time and then following through.
But I'm working on it :o)

KylieBrant said...

I'm just starting, slowly, on the Twitter train. I'll admit I still don't quite 'get it'. I'm much more comfortable with Facebook, but I've been at that longer. The thing that gets me is you almost have to be signed up all day to see what's going on, rather than FB where I can run down old posts and still comment later on. But I'll keep plugging away, primarily because it's yet another way to procrastinate!

Leanne said...

When I'm on deadline (as I am right now), I don't like to hop in and out of my story throughout the day. It's hard for me to comprehend how people can do so many updates and still write their books. Maybe I'm missing a tweet gene?:) I do have a lot of admiration for those who can manage it. I'm still trying to master facebook.

Kathleen Eagle said...

VERY interesting, ladies. I think we writers all identify with the havoc hopping in and out of the story causes. The problem is that it's so easy when you're using one machine to delve into two realities--and your fiction is very much a reality, has to be when the W is in P. Sometimes when the self discipline flags I have to go to a laptop and take it to a room the wireless won't reach.

Kathleen Eagle said...

How do you like that--"when the W is in P"? Cuts down a little on characters, but still makes a complete phrase. Am I cool yet? See, part of me wants to keep up with the times, hang with the in crowd, be popular and all like that. And part of me says, What? Me worry?

Keri Ford said...

oh, I love twitter! I have a short attention span, so it's a good outlet for me if I need a quick distraction when I get bored with what I'm doing.

I've found hundreds of friends there and lots more writers that I might not have known about other wise!

lois greiman said...

So far I'm twitterless. Part of my problem is a very slow internet connection but part is deciding how much time I can justify for networking. It's all very consuming.

Michele Hauf said...

I think Twitter is excellent for networking. If it's something you enjoy, then you should do it. If you do not, and don't understand it, then you don't need to do it. It's not for everyone.
I do like to use TweetDeck, because it keeps a running real-time feed of tweets right on my desktop. Usually I can recognize the avatar of someone whose tweets I like to read and will pause from writing to check those out, but otherwise, I just let it run. Sometimes I'll scroll through it to see if anything catches my eye.

Retweeting really is the nice way to behave on Twitter. If someone retweets one of your posts, then you should be kind and retweet for them. Again, it's networking, and it's quicker than email sometimes if you're trying to get ahold of someone RIGHT NOW.

Helen Brenna said...

Sorry, chiming in late here. Spent the day at Valleyfair - yes, in this heat.

I not a twitterer. Feel like I should be, but would have no clue what I'd tweet about? I have a hard enough time on FB as it is.

Kathleen Eagle said...

I've been thinking about how or when I would use Twitter, and that led me to the "find people" feature. Who would I follow? Paul McCartney. A Tweet from Paul would have me all a-flutter. I didn't see anything that came from Paul himself, but lots of news and pictures. If only we'd had Twitter back in the day, I would have been SUCH a follower.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Yeah, Helen, I've thought about FB. I'd love to hear from former students, former classmates, distant cousins. But my daughter the future cop recently closed her My Space account and says "Don't,Mom." She knows me. She knows that once I get started, I tend to go overboard.

I love this blog. I love the two-way street. Speaking of which, I just heard that they're UNpaving roads in the Dakotas because they're low on highway money and gravel roads are cheaper to maintain. Yikes.