I’ve mainly given up Twitter except for the express, shameful purpose of checking up on the daily activities of David Hewlett, sci-fi actor extraordinaire. If you haven’t used Twitter before, the boiled-down version is that it allows you to post up to 140 characters of text about what you’re doing, thinking, watching, reading, eating, or whatever-ing to the Web. You can post via a Web interface (i.e. go to the website, log in, type 140 characters) or via SMS (i.e. text 140 characters in on your phone), IM, or email. An article in Wired called Twitter “social proprioception”–basically, it’s one more way to know where all your peeps are at all times, and to keep them informed about your doings, too. For a more comprehensive guide to Twitter, see the Wikipedia article about it. (Clash of the Web 2.0 technologies!)
The thing with Twitter is, it’s sort of neurotically addictive, and then it’s exhausting, and then, if you’re like me, you give it up because you don’t really want to be that connected all the time anyway. You may also have the sneaking suspicion that the whole world doesn’t really yearn to read about every detail of your day–every cup of coffee, every movie, every missed bus. (After all, we can’t all be David Hewlett.)
But I still find Twitter intriguing, and I’m interested to know whether libraries or other like organizations have come up with interesting ways to use it. As I see it, the main features are:
- IM-like immediacy (good for flagging a librarian when you need help in the stacks?)
- social networking (would librarians want to share a network? would we want to allow patrons to send us comments via Twitter?)
- archiving of past tweets (you can look back and see all the things you did last week, as well as what all your friends did. again, good for patron feedback?)
- flexibility of medium (you can tweet by IM, SMS, email,or web)
We keep talking about ways to work collaboratively with our users, and to get more feedback and information from them…I wonder if there’s a way that the underlying Twitter technology fits into this. Apart from celebrity-stalking, that is.