A colleague I’ve known for six years now has unintentionally given me two pieces of advice. For the first, we were discussing my stubborn insistence on finishing a book. I try to give authors a chance to redeem themselves – they might have some valid point, even if the rest of the book is drivel. Hell, I managed to slog through 16 of Heinlein’s novels before I threw in the towel. My friend told me that if he thinks he’s gotten enough out of a book, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to change, he’s done. Ding. That made sense to me.
Though the sense was made, I’ve only actually given up on a book on a couple of occasions since that discussion, but I did recall one from before. William Gibson’s Neuromancer. I may try it again some day, but having recently started David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, I’m not so sure. Nonsense doesn’t appeal to me too often and Wallace’s tome is a mountain of it. Neuromancer was an interesting coincidence because that same colleague liked it and got into library science because of it (there’s a connection, I’m sure.) I still like him anyway.
Now… that confession. About two weeks back I stopped by for a short visit and we were talking about the rollout of the new City website, alternative social media (LinkedIn, Tumblr, a few I’d never heard of), and some of the tools he uses to gather the research people want/need. Imagine my surprise to learn that Twitter actually has some value!! He says that when a new policy, white paper, announcement is made, Twitter usually has it first. And here I was thinking it was for twits. I have looked at some enormous Twitter feeds and found nothing of merit…even those recommended by people I thought might know what they were talking about. Curmudgeon that I can be, I really had no interest in “micro-blogging”.
My colleague said he watches how information spreads so quickly through Twitter. “I’ve read your blog, but it has a small audience. Something hits Twitter and it’s out there.” I observed that I write my blog for me, but if others get something from it, then that’s a bonus. Still, he got me thinking…
So…I got a Twitter account. And immediately “followed” the City of Plano and City of Rowlett. I added some entities and people I was interested in seeing posts from: Make magazine, Sam Harris, John Allen Paulos, Penn Jillette, Raymond Feist, Michael Shermer, Rush (the band), Bill Gates, Richard Dawkins, PZ Meyers, Stephen Wolfram…in all, I follow 28 so far. But I think PZ is going to get throttled – if that’s possible in the Twit-world. I used to like to read his blog, but I don’t see a lot of value in his twits. I like what Paulos, Dawkins and Shermer share, as well as Plano. Penn Jillette may need to be filtered along with Meyers…not so interested as I thought.
And I was surprised to learn that despite never having twitted anything (okay, there is something basely disturbing about “tweet” – I may someday come to actually say the term out loud, but it’s still all twittering to me), I had 13 “followers” within a few days. It doesn’t matter that I know only one of them. “Had” is the right term, because I learned I could block 11 of them for spamming me. Now I have two; a friend from before high school and some Twitter whore musician named Sean Ashe. I’m leaving him because he might learn something from me if I ever twit.
Anyway, if I come across a product or firm I want to keep tabs on, I now have a Twitter account I can follow them from. I’m not sure if the novelty will wear off – I got really tired of the bazillion updates when I tried an RSS feeder. Who has the time? I will wait and see if it really does add value to my life. Right now, it’s a not unpleasant distraction when I’m indisposed or the like.