Ode to Twitter

UPDATE: I wrote this in August 2007, so I’m really happy to see it catching on (through Twitter, natch) again recently. Please also check out Twitter is my Village, Twitter Makes us More ____ and these interviews/media.

Let me come clean about my Twitter adoption “arc:”

The wise student hears of the Twitter & practices it diligently. The average student hears of the Twitter & gives it thought now & again. The foolish student hears of the Twitter and laughs aloud. If there were no laughter, the Twitter would not be what it is. -Lao Tzu (well, sorta)

I was foolish. If you think Twitter’s the dumbest thing you’ve ever seen, I hear you.

But I evolved.

I recently tweeted what Twitter is to me:

water cooler, colleagues, sanity check, ideas, advice, good tips, friends, company, connections, inspiration. oh ya & network.

I poo-poohed Twitter in March, grudgingly tried it on May 17, and 4 days later met my first real world Twitter friends (aka, drank the Kool Aid.)

I began to see how creative/productive Twitterers can inspire. I used it to surround myself with role models. I started getting to know people, and to enjoy the company, humor, conversation and great links. Just by way of writing, reading and responding to each other’s tweets, unbelieveably valuable networking contacts have become familiar workday presences. I’ve met and hired 3 subcontractors for my business, met numerous potential collaborators and even found extraordinary new business leads. I’ve been to numerousnetworking and social events (lifesavers for a WAHM in a new city!). Interesting, creative, challenging, thoughtful and very deeply caring people have come into my life. New ones seem to appear every week. Twitter has served up answers, opinions and inspiration. It’s saved my sanity and yesterday, my dishwasher.

Hugh McLeod‘s mentioned both flippantly (April) and seriously (June) that Twitter has slowed his blogging. I’d blame summer for my recent slowdown, but maybe it’s Twitter. But as a wise ninja pointed out, Twitter also improves blogging by absorbing your off-theme tidbits, good links, quotes, questions and other scraps of ideas. It ain’t called microblogging for nothing. But it’s true my blog posts are more detailed and thought out now, the quick cool stuff goes on Twitter.

Because it’s a business and personal tool for me, I Twitter about a LOT of different things. Great finds from my feed reader, impulsive ideas, replies both sassy and heartfelt. I tweet pointers to new blog posts when they go up. Twitter’s kept me company and has let me blow off steam, comfort a friend, and get exposed to completely opposite thinking from my own. On Twitter, we share and promote each others’ ideas and media. We celebrate birthdays, promotions, graduations and anniversaries. We look out for someone traveling or near the site of a disaster. We introduce and we randomly discover each other. Some I follow are just plain entertaining. Others I look up to and hope to meet.

We also combine the power of our collective news/intellectual interests. I get the “best of” ideas that various Twitter friends read or create, any given day. This magnifies the depth and breadth of information I consume. Imagine if your “water cooler” at work were also a wire service/editorial desk? Yeah. Something like that.

Sure, Twitter contains a huge % of “what I had for breakfast.” But the elegance is this: Everyone starts out with nobody listening to them and nobody to listen to. How and who you add determines what Twitter will become for you. Nobody can tweet at you without permission. You add people. People add you. You see interesting exchanges and add new people. Read the Twitterstream of anyone who adds you to decide whether you want to hear what they have to say. Meet someone at an event and you can connect on Twitter to get to know each other’s thoughts a little, over time.

If you used your TV or radio to listen to EVERYONE on your block broadcast their every random sound or video, you’d dismiss radio and TV as useless. If you look at everyone on Twitter at once and complain about futility, you’re missing the chance to find interesting connections and dig in slowly. Before you dismiss Twitter, find some bright, engaging, thoughtful tweeters* and follow them for a little while.

So there it is. I’m an addict. I’m a poster child for Twitter, and I couldn’t be happier about it. If you don’t”get” twitter yet, that’s ok. I’ve been there too.

* I’d have to write a whole separate post to shout out my Twitter favorites and what each one brings to the table. So please, post your suggested “Twitterers to follow” in the comments.

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