Ode to Twitter

by Laura Fitton on August 10, 2007

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 numerous networking 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.

UPDATE: Annotated pic from today’s Tweeter-Q

UPDATES 08/28/2007: Chris Brogan on Twitter: Twitter as a Lab, Deeper Twitter; Dave Davison on Twitter ROA; Guy Kawasaki joins Twitter.

{ 13 trackbacks }

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Ed Roberts August 10, 2007 at 8:48 pm

There are 2 different things I like about Twitter. One, which may be the most obvious. It enables me to get near real-time notice of things going on in the world of new media. With contact such as CC Chapman, Chris Penn, Chris Brogan, and the like, my new media presence and insight has only increased. Being able to quickly engage the conversation is very valuable.

The second may surprise you. In a way, I like hearing the generic things some of my Twitter friends are doing. New media, Web 2.0 (whatever you want to call it) is all about RELATIONSHIPS. Simply sharing your life with your friends in even this generic sense, strengthens those relationships. In a way, periodically sharing my life increases my authenticity and strengthens my personal brand.

Susanna August 10, 2007 at 8:48 pm

I originally joined Twitter so I could see what my career role models were up to. Then I started following some of the people they followed and have ended up with a really interesting network of people.

Since I’m so far away from everybody, Twitter makes me feel like I’m still up on what’s happening in the web world even though I can’t go to conventions or meetups.

mysree August 10, 2007 at 8:56 pm

Now you know i had to jump on this band-wagon!

I’ve found Twitter is a wonderful place to build bridges. I have to say that I

Goldie Katsu August 10, 2007 at 9:08 pm

The recommended ones to follow:
pistachio :-)

There are other’s that I would add to the list for specific interests (vlogging, second life related, etc) and there are others that I consider essential to my twitter stream, but those are the ones I would recommend to the folks starting out. Oh, and of course me, goldiekatsu ;-)

Annie Boccio August 10, 2007 at 9:32 pm

I follow 194 people, and that’s after culling the list of spammers and really quiet people :) . That’s amazing to me, since I joined in March I’ve met 194 people who add something to the conversation. Some of my favorites (oh boy will I get in trouble for leaving people out?):


Fellow NJians who were written up with me in a story about Twitter in the paper were truejerseygirl & dossy, and there’s a bunch more I’ve gotten to know and hope to meet at PodCamp Philly.

My best friend from childhood who I reconnected with thanks to twitter and other social networks, kasnj.

So many more but those are the ones who stood out in a quick scroll through my list.

I’ve even gained three clients and a few potential ones through twitter, perfect timing since I just started up my new design business! Not to mention all the great suggestions and advice.

I think I need to join you as a Twitter poster child!


Nicholas Butler August 10, 2007 at 11:06 pm

What a great idea and question.

First is SusanReynolds for writing such an inspiring piece about you.

Which leads to Pistachio, oh thats you anyway, but thats person whose twitters I love.

Then there is Sizemore for his ground to grindstone british delivery of the day.

And I wouldnot have met him had it not been for RoseVibe whose strive for the then right now inspires me most days.

In manyways reading about GoldieKatsuu, JNswanson,MistyObrien and Zemote represnet the new, interesting and vibrant part of conversations I see everyday.

And speaking of people who are vibrant and inpsire. JCHutchins motivates me with his enthusiasm.

Meanwhile Jowyang, ChrisBrogan,MarkHarrisonUK,Schwuk,Scobleizer and JeffPulver all continue to motivate me professionally and editorially.

And I seek every opportunity to out wit and pun GordonWSmythe when I can.

So there we go, it seems somewhat unfair tonot mention those who follow and whom I follow but recently they have Stuck out and in my mind more than most.

Thanks for posting, and thanks for reading.


Skye Lemmon August 11, 2007 at 10:15 am

Oh, there’s soo many! Chrisbrogan, cc_chapman, cbasturea, kamichat, pistachio, newmediajim, dough, paullyoung, bryper and cspenn…just to mention a FEW! :)

(For some reason 90% of my twitterfriends are Bostonites. I have no idea why!)

Ann August 11, 2007 at 11:49 am

I often describe Twitter as being a little like a cocktail party. I can move from group to group and share a joke or make a contact.

I didn’t get Twitter when I first signed up. I have to say that the tide turned when I picked up NewMediaJim from the public timeline during the shootings at Virginia Tech. New Media? I was clueless what that term even meant, suddenly I find myself right in the middle of it all.

Twitter has changed the way that I communicate on the web. It’s much easier to dash out 140 characters of what is happening in my head than to open an email or to write a blog post.

Like Annie, I fear I may leave someone out, but these are the people that always catch and hold my Twitter attention:

vaspers–who I love to harass
blueteddy my best friend who I pulled into Twitter and watched her evolve into an addict.

Steph August 11, 2007 at 2:34 pm

I have a suggestion: instead of the name of your business, give your twitter feed your real name. Or at least, write something that says who you are in the description. I very nearly blocked you as a spammer after a first glance at your twitter page. I had to come here to be “sure” you were a real human being — not everyone will do that.

Robert W. March 13, 2008 at 1:58 pm

You make a very compelling case for Twitter. It caught my interest again. Then I went to check out one of the Twitter pages on your comments: http://twitter.com/twila_zoned

It’s not my intention to pick on her but how can anyone argue that the posts on there are anything but mindless A.D.D. inspired nonsense? I say this matter of factly, not maliciously.

Perhaps the difference with me is that I’ve been involved with computers professionally since 1987 and long before that as a kid. So I have a much wider, longer term lens to view society’s use of such technology.

I go back to my original comment: Twitter – I just don’t get it.

Laura Fitton March 13, 2008 at 2:23 pm

@Robert W. Thank you.

Wouldn’t you argue that that is VERY like saying film is useless because you saw a movie that didn’t appeal to you?

Here is why I say that “they are anything but mindless inspired ADD nonsense.” I’ve personally experienced:

-that my last 6 out of 6 prospective clients ALL found me via Twitter
-mentoring from and communications with numerous A-list technology leaders who connected to me via Twitter
-collaboration and knowledge sharing on sophisticated ideas in technology, science, social media and other topics
-international travel and speaking opportunities
-breaking news
-heart-moving community support
-access to 2000+ loose ties in a pretty interesting personal network
-and as they say on TV “much, much more” :-)

You might consider re-reading the original post (Twitter Makes us More ___)? Or, just disregard Twitter altogether and don’t worry yourself whether you were right to.

It is what it is, and it definitely “looks” stupid.

PS – Maybe if you listened to Dan Bricklin and I discussing it, http://is.gd/239 or read his follow-up blog post? http://is.gd/ik

Warmly, Laura

Eric March 13, 2008 at 2:44 pm

Laura/Pistachio –

As a relative n00b to this Twitter thing (I got on to follow a good non-Twitter friend as he was at SXSW and I was not), I have to say that I can identify with your initial impressions, too.

There is a tipping point where you find the value in Twitter, and I think you nailed it when you said,

“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.”

Right on!

- Eric


Eddie Soto May 8, 2008 at 5:18 pm

As a relative n00bee myself, I am finding many Twitter links and references to information that I am enjoying reading, much of it relevant, some of it silly, some totally hilarious. I related to Laura’s Ode. Twitter is what it is, I agree, but as a new user to a forum set up in real time such as this, I find myself thinking outside the box more. I am enjoying this community. I, for one, am keeping it. Thank you Laura for your post. I look forward to networking with and meeting many of you soon. – Eddie (esonline)

Vicki May 12, 2008 at 12:13 pm

Rbert – I’ve been involved with computers professionally since 1984, so I trump your long view :-)

Twitter is exactly like weblogs (5+ years ago) the whole WWW (10+ years ago), or Usenet (20 years ago). Where’s the value? It’s where you find it.

Some people aren’t interesting (to you). Just as some books fascinate me and others bore, some music is exceptional and some is “who would listen to That?” some movies or plays are excellent – and you and I don’t agree on which ones.

Actually, that’s what makes al of this fun. If you don’t like the first persn you read… find someone else.

Jared O'Toole March 28, 2009 at 10:18 pm

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.

So true people that blow off twitter simply don’t get it or give it a chance. Use it for whatever you want and you will find others using it in the same way.

katelynjane March 30, 2009 at 5:08 pm

I love this post! It sums up exaclty where I see myself with Twitter once I get into it a bit more (three days hardly seems like I’ve started!). My hubby is wondering what the “big deal” is with Twitter, and I’ve tried to explain it…but I think i’m going to forward this to him so he can see your description (:

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Your style is so unique in comparison to other folks I have read stuff from.
Thank you for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I’ll just book mark this web site.

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