Friday, June 15, 2012

Twitter Retrospective

In honor of my 20,000th tweet (which I messed up by hitting enter as I was editing it), I thought I would consider the past few years of many, many, many really short messages. 

Like many, I was a twitter skeptic.  I didn't think one could say much or learn much in 140 characters.  However, the ability to have links to websites and pics shrunk immediately meant that twitter is an incredibly way to share stuff.  Much more handy than just telling people where I am going or what I am doing.

I have not maintained a consistent twitter profile.  My twitter stream is much like my blog posts here as much as I thought that I could maintain distinct personalities.  But my lack of filter/attention deficit disorder means that both outlets are pretty scatter-shot.   I cover mostly the same topics now in both areas, with the addition that I use twitter to advertise my various blogs here and thither.

The key advantage of twitter for me, compared to blogging, is that it is far more interactive and conversational.  I have had interactions with a range of people from all over the world on a variety of topics from Australia's efforts in Afghanistan with a couple of Aussies yesterday to folks studying Yemen to TV critics to Ottawanians long before I actually move there to folks deeply embedded in policy-making debates in DC (think tank dwellers and beyond).  The past year's highlight was participating in Twitterfightclub, which allowed me to meet and learn from a bunch of national security experts.

Thanks to twitter, I do not feel like I am Rudolph anymore.  Or at least, my red nose is useful for something.  I don't really believe I have "klout" on things like cafes, Dubai, Android, Oslo, Media, Social Justice, Pirates, the Dark Knight, Georgia or Advocacy, despite may think.  But I do not feel as left out as I used to feel.  The joy of twitter is that one can select who to follow, which can help to create a very biased worldview, and folks can choose to follow me or whoever, creating virtual communities.  I have found these electronic communities to be pretty damned supportive and definitely very engaging.

I find it both strange and thrilling to have followers.  What a concept.  I do respond to most folks who engage me on twitter, and have found these conversations to be entertaining, engaging and educational.  Thanks!

I absolutely spend far more time on twitter than I should, but I get so much more information about things I need to know about, thinks I want to know about, and thinks I could not care about.  For someone whose primary personality flaw is impatience being a lousy listener sloppy indiscreet narcissism curiosity, twitter is incredibly addictive and fun.  I look forward to the next 20k tweets which will be mostly the same except for less stuff on Montreal roads, Quebec politics, undergrads (since my new job will not involve teaching undergrads) and more stuff on Canadian politics, Ottawa, and complaints about food selection (Montreal is hard to beat).

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