A Mini Twitter Tutorial

A Mini-Twitter Tutorial One-pager

There’s almost a Catch-22 with Twitter — you have to use it to know how to use it.  I often encounter people who say “I just don’t get Twitter.”  So I put this one-pager together to help introduce Twitter to folks.  While it won’t teach experienced users anything, it might help explain to others why we like it so much.

Popular Misconceptions

  • “I don’t care what Britney Spears had for breakfast”   Like the Web itself, there is a lot of garbage out there, but also a lot of fascinating people that, because of Twitter, you can now listen to.  It is like being at a cosmic cocktail party, where you can overhear bits of conversations.
  • “I really don’t have anything interesting to Tweet about”  You don’t have to Tweet yourself to get value out of Twitter.  Most people merely ‘listen’ to what’s going on in Twitterville and rarely Tweet, if at all.
  • “How much can one really say with only 140 characters?”  Actually, a hard limit forces Tweeters to be concise, and many Tweets contain Web Links that lead to related articles or blog posts.
  • “I don’t want people to see who I’m following”  Following’ people is only one way to find tweets you’re interested in.  A better way is to set up search tags (called Hashtags) in your Twitter client.  Knowing this, most people use such tags when they Tweet.  (See the ‘Hashtags’ section.)

Unilateral ‘Follow’ Model

  • Unlike Facebook’s bi-lateral ‘friending’ model, where two parties agree to share their posts with each other, you simply decide to ‘Follow’ people and their permission is not required*
  • You can see the followers of anyone, or who they are following
  • ‘Tweeting’ is analogous to blogging, in that tweets are published for anyone who is interested in the reading them (indeed, the Library of Congress is archiving all Tweets.)

* Twitter does have a ‘Protected Tweets’ mode, where only individuals that you approve can see your Tweets, but this is not really the way Twitter is used (or was originally intended for)

Hashtags

  • Back in 2009, there was a forest fire raging in the foothills to the west of Boulder, I set up my Twitter clients to display Tweets that included the hashtag ‘#boulderfire’  (This was the best way to keep abreast of the serious situation.)
  • This convention of tagging Tweets with hashtags, was introduced by the twitter users themselves, and now Twitter clients like TweetDeck or Hootsuite can be configured to look for them. (See the Getting Started box for client info.)
  • As you begin using Twitter and see Tweets flow by, you will become familiar with hashtags, and learn which are the popular ones for the topics that you are interested in.  
  • Finally, you can visit search.twitter.com, and search through tweets, and you can learn new hashtags this way as well.

Getting Started

  • Go to www.twitter.com and create a Twitter account
  • Download Tweetdeck.com (www.tweetdeck.com)
  • Follow somebody, anybody.  (You can always ‘unfollow’ them.)
  • In Tweetdeck, ‘add a column’ and specify a hashtag (e.g. start watching Tweets about your city, I watch #boulder)
  • Now, just watch and learn for a while.  See how people tweet.  Find interesting people and follow them.  
  • If you want to begin to participate, you can do a ReTweet of a tweet, and either merely retweet it, or add some of your own words in front (with ‘RT’ indicating the Retweeted portion)
  • If you modify some’s tweet, substitute ‘MT’ for ‘RT’
  • The, when you feel comfortable, and have something to say, or an article or blog post to highlight,  Tweet it!
  • On smartphones or the iPad, Hootsuite seems to be the app that folks like best these days. (hootsuite.com)
  • Have fun!

My Favorite Tweet of 2011

My favorite Tweet last year was:  2011. It’s like history was on “pause” and then God pressed the “play” button.  I think Twitter and other social media tools played an important role in things coming alive all over the world last year.  So observations on it: 

  • It was posted by @iyad_elbaghdadi
  • Now, I don’t follow Iyad El-Badhadi, and the Tweet has no hashtags, so I must have come across it by it being ‘retweeted’ by someone I follow.
  • When I look at the profile of @iyad_elbaghdadi, I see that both he and I follow @lessig, a law professor in Brookline, Mass., so I’d guess that @lessig came across it somehow and retweeted it.
  • Side note: @lessig only follows 128 individuals, but they all look very interesting!

I participate in Twitter using two different accounts, my @fjglynn account is my professional persona, and my @rockymtnjoe account is my photography persona.

Cheers, Joe Glynn, Boulder, Colorado, USA 2012-01-19

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The Social Network of Anna Karenina

Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina captivated me during solo drives and runs in north Boulder over the early summer of 2011.  As a photographer and Powerpoint story-teller, I was enthralled in Tolstoy’s ability to paint sweeping pictures of engaging drawing room conversations to vivid descriptions of Anna’s thoughts as she replays the events of the day and how she behaved.

Early in to my listening, I consulted the Wikipedia article on Anna Karenina to see the Main Characters list, and being so interested in Social Networks, felt compelled to put this chart together. Aside from being topologically challenging to show the links between the characters, I realized I was not aware of good graphical techniques to visually represent the various relationship types among them.  Furthermore, this is a static view representing the end state of the novel.  It would be interesting to see a timelapse animation as the story progresses and the relationships change.

As I listened, I couldn’t help but imagine how the Moscow and St. Petersburg aristocrats might have used social networks in their day.  As it was, there seemed to be no secrets, with news and gossip shared by parlor visits, whispers and daily correspondence, but I wonder how comments might have be presented in Facebook, or how it might have changed the social landscape.

Recently two very humorous pieces have been published which envisioned a Twitter exchangeamong our founding fathers, and The History of America as told by Facebook status updates.  And already world leaders are communicating for real on specialized social networks.

Fast forward to 2011, I imagined how a new medium for telling stories will develop.  Crawling around, I found Zack Daggy’s twitternovels which lasted 67 tweets with the last update on Bob Dylan’s birthday in 2007.

I look forward to a creatively crafted entertainment experiences delivered by social networks. Imagine: seeing updates from the characters and news events of the day.  Maybe even structured so you could only follow some characters, or via some gaming point structure see the posts of more of the characters.

Indeed, Anna Karenina was first published in serial installments from 1873 to 1877 in the periodicalThe Russian Messenger, and I fondly recall a radio series that NPR ran back in 1987 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of ratification of the US Constitution.  The series consisted of short news updates, day by day, as if reporters were in Philadelphia and around the colonies in 1787.

So now we will be waiting for the great American novel delivered via updates on Google+.

By the way, I listened to the Audible version Anna Karenina featuring Nadia May’s wonderful narration on my iPhone 4 at 2x speed.  Apple does this in a way where the normal pitch of the voices are preserved, and the faster pace of the dialog quickly becomes your new normal for listening.  At that speed, I find it keeps your mind engaged, and in the fewer times when I do find my concentration wandering off to another topic, there is a handy “backup 30 sec” control on the iPhone’s iPod.

 

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Media Consumption in 2010

Back in 1997, it was a front page headline in the newspaper that told me Princess Di had died.  That may have been the last big event that I heard first on the walk in from the driveway.  Today, the way I find and consume media in my Mac environment is through a rich set of tools and people, in a way that I barely have conceived even just a year ago.  (The subtitle of my post here is to observe how we are continually revise our view of the future with the dramatically novel innovations that occur regularly. )

The most significant changes in my media environment result from the iPad, links flying at me from the Twitterverse, and the increased capacity and power of the iPhone 4 (which was a delightful improvement for me as I stepped up from the original.)

Role of Twitter in Discovery: Twitter has become a fascinating and increasingly valuable overlay to my information gathering experience.  In my office environment, I have TweetDeck running off a MacMini with a dedicated monitor off to the side.  Like the flow of people down a busy sidewalk, I glance at the tweets of the people I follow and and hashtags I track.  The vast majority of these contain links that point to content I may find interesting.

Learning to use Twitter is like learning the environment in a vacation spot you’ve never been to before.  Everything seems strange at first, you don’t know the etiquette  of the people, or where anything is.  By the end of your stay, you know the little short cuts, precisely what time that delightful breakfast place opens, and the place in your memory that you first arrived to seems quite foreign.

And with its ability to freely follow people and track interesting subjects, Twitter is like opening the windows on a spring day — it is such a lovely way to have a pulse of what is going on around the world, and be exposed to new thinking.

RSS:  Like a faithful dog,  RSS is still part of my environment.  Using Netnewswire, it is the way I scan the headlines from hundreds of newsites and blogs for places that I am already familiar with.

Google News Alerts: I also pull my Google Alerts into Netnewswire, which is far better than receiving discrete emails containing groups of links.  In Netnewswire, for example, the Feed URL for “Social Graph” alerts is:

http://news.google.com/news?um=1&ned=us&hl=en&q=%22social+graph%22&output=rss

I copy and paste this into the address field of Safari, modifying it for other topics I want to follow, and hit enter.  This causes a dialog box in Netnewswire to pop up which asks if I want to subscribe to this new RSS feed.

New York Times Alerts and ‘Timespeople’ – I have a few news alerts set up directly with the New York Times.  I follow a few tech topics from them and some specific journalist there.  The links arrive each morning by email, but I would welcome RSS or a way to pull it in to my twitter environment more directly.  They do have ‘Timespeople’ (I am ‘fjglynn’ there) where New York Times readers can ‘Recommend’ articles for other New York Times people that they follow.  These tools are interesting, but obviously separate.

Instapaper: Now, as I come across content via links in Tweets and via RSS feeds,  I quickly browse some pieces right then, but longer pieces I want to read later when I have time, an in a more comfortable place with my iPad.   I use two primary ways to accomplish this.  The first is Instapaper, which is almost magical.  They provide a browser plug-in that you click when you’re on a webpage that you want to ‘read later’.

This causes the sensible parts of that web page, i.e. the article, and most of the time, accompanying photographs, to be cached up in the cloud for you.  Then, when you fire up the InstaPaper app in your iPad or iPhone, they pull down the articles you tucked away.  I used to print stuff and put it in a ‘read-later’ pile.  Now they appear on my iPad, and I actually read these articles and posts.

Save PDF to iTunes (for iBooks): Thank you, Anthony Martin.  He posted a wonderfully helpful piece describing how to add ‘Save PDFs to iTunes’ to the Print PDF dialog box in Mac OS X.  I use this from any application on my Mac (e.g. Powerpoint) or from a browser for longer articles that I treat more as permanent “Library” documents on my iPad.

Tagging PDFs in iTunes (for iBooks): Anthony’s approach, described just above, puts the PDFs in the ‘Books’ section of my iTunes Library.  I also drag native PDFs on my Mac that I download from the Web into my iTunes Library directly, and they also appear in Books section.  For each of these, as I add them,  I do a ‘Get Info’ to add helpful metadata to the PDF: Year, Author, and most importantly, Genre (which you should think of as ‘category).   This pays off when I open the iBooks app on the iPad, select PDFs, and then choose ‘Categories’ from the viewing options on the bottom.   iBooks then sorts my PDFs by Category, and makes my growing PDF library on my iPad much more accessible and valuable.

eBooks: I’m reading a lot these days about sociology and technology of social networking, as well as photography, one of my creative passions.  With my iPad, I typically compare prices and if available get books via Apple’s iBookstore, or Amazon’s Kindlestore.  The iPad of course lets you read the standard ePUB format that Apple chose, or the Mobi formatted books from Amazon using the Kindle app for iPad.

I prefer the app experience of Apple’s iBook over Amazon’s Kindle app, but both are lovely.  I “highlight” passages, and delight in being able to later search though them.  (And am fascinated when the Kindle app indicates passages that have been highlighted by a large number of readers).  Also, even though each app saves my place, I keep a pretty current bookmark in case the folks I lend my iPad to flip though my books, changing the place.

The romantics among us will say things like “I just love the feel of real pages when I read.”   My unromantic pragmatic comment is “I love having my books with me so I can read them.”   I have a delightful and varied library with me wherever I take my iPad.

I should also say, to some skepticism I’m sure, that I read eBooks on my iPhone.  Sometimes I’m in a constrained environment like the London Underground, or when I’m in a store queue and I have only my iPhone with me.  You must try it — its a very readable experience.  Doubting Thomas I was, I needed to try it myself, and it wonderful to have something good to read when your in line at the grocery store.  And as if by wizardry, your place in the book stays synced across your devices.  Upon returning to an eBook on my iPad after I’ve been reading it on my iPhone, the pages magically flip forward to right where I left off.

Audiobooks and Podcasts:  With all I’ve said about eBooks, I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention Audiobooks and Podcasts.  When I run, drive and alone, I get a great deal of “reading” accomplished with Audiobooks, which I’ll buy from Audible.com or iTunes.  And I’m now quite accustomed now to listening to them at 2x speed with a setting on the iPod app of my iPhone.  The pace at 2x is great, and Apple has done a good job with the pitch as it doesn’t sound like the Chipmunks.  And the increased speed I think keeps you focused on the story, and you find your mind wanders less.  And on the iPhone, there’s a “go back 30 seconds” button, which comes in very handy when you do want to replay part of the audiobook or podcast.

I have ripped my Audiobook CDs so I can listen to them on my iPhone.  The process is painful, and I don’t recommend it, unless you already have the Audiobook CDs laying around.  Here are my steps, with a special acknowledgment to Doug Adams for his wonderful iTunes scrips, especially, Join Together.

  1. Import Settings on iTunes: from my normal MP3/192Kbps to AAC/Spokenpodcast
  2. Before I imported each audiobook CD, I use the iTunes-Advanced-Join CD Tracks command on all the tracks of an audiobook CD
  3. Import into iTunes
  4. Then, I run the Doug Adams iTunes Script ‘Join Together’ on the group of files – one from each CD – this resulted in a single File
  5. In iTunes, I then did a Get Info, and made sure the Title, Author, etc. was as I wanted, and dragged in artwork.

Although Audiobooks are dominating my listening these days, when my mood calls for it, I have podcasts to turn to, with iTunes managing the subscriptions and downloads, and syncing to my iPhone.   My favorites are This American Life (I’m not alone…), Fresh Air with Terry Gross, The Candid Frame, and This Week in Photo.

Apps on the iPad: As I mentioned earlier, I use Apple’s iBook App to read eBooks from Apple’s iBook store and it doubles as my PDF reader.  When reading eBooks, I make frequent use of ‘highlights’ and ‘notes’ that I love being able to search though later.  And as also explained earlier, I keep PDFs organized in by Categories. I look forward to a future iBook release where I can see two pages side-by-side when I have the iPad in landscape mode (articulating valuable/essential for photo spreads), as well as the ability to collapse Categories, so its easier to move around my growing iPad library.

Despite what RIM’s co-CEO says about iPad Apps in general, I think the Flipbook and Twitter Apps are lovely.  I like having all the links forwarded by my friends, followees and hashtaggers right a my fingertips, and have the app pull the web page with the flick or click of a finger.   Jim Balstillie can have his browser-based content, I’m sticking with these wonderful apps.

News sites are also realizing the value of the app experience, and they’re popping up all over.  Its interesting to see different approaches, e.g. the New York Times App, and the Huffington Post.   They, and others, allow delightful ways to browse articles quickly, and pull up the ones that interest you.  The reading experience with them is amazing.

Closing Thoughts: This all probably sounds more complicated than it really is.  Most of these approaches and tools are independent of the others, so you can pick and choose to suit your style.   I particularly like how I spot content on my Macs, and cause it to be consumed on my iPad and iPhone.  Finally, this is obviously the state of things in November of 2010.  It will be interesting to revisit this in the future — this post probably doesn’t have a long shelf life!

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Nobody Goes There Anymore, It’s Too Crowded

Last summer, I asked one of my college-aged nephews if he used Genres to help organize his music in his iTunes library and iPod.  He looked at me blankly, and after a brief pause, said “No.”

Now, I am a Type A organizer.  I make all but manic use of ‘Genres‘, ‘Ratings‘, ‘Smartlists‘ and ‘Composers‘ to get the most out of my music collection, so I assumed others would find value in these categorization tools.  But then, I realized, why would he?  At college age, most people’s music is all in a single Genre.

It should hardly be a surprise then, that Facebook, with it’s college roots, primarily gives us a single group of “Friends”.  But social graph-enabled services will be much more valuable when they let us be more granular with how we reach our friends.  It begins to feel very crowded when the only straight forward mechanism to communicate with our friends is to blast out to all of them.

Multiple, Small Groups
In ‘The Real Life Social Network‘, Paul Adams eloquently and graphically pointed out how fragmented our “Friends” truly are in real life, and how how most of our communication is actually concentrated among a very few friends.  He also pointed out that the practical limit of of stable social relationships that we can maintain is about 150.  This is called Dunbar’s number, popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in The Tipping Point, based on research done by Robin Dunbar and R. A. Hill and published in their 2002 paper, Social Network Size in Humans.

Dunbar’s number, I was fascinated to learn, doesn’t seem to improve with common social networking technologies.  My favorite line from a New York Post article that articulated this and referenced by Paul Adams in a follow up post citing his voluminous data sources was: “Web 2.0 can’t win over Brain 1.0.”

Paul Adams also references a study that found people speak or meet with about 10 friends weekly.  This corresponds with the “Sympathy Group” size that Malcolm Gladwell discusses in Tipping Point. (One’s Sympathy Group is the set of people who’s death would leave you truly devastated.  It is because we interact with them so often that their death would be so painful to us.)

Easy Access to a Many Groups and Contact Methods will be ValuableAs the number of friends we have in Facebook grows, we are realizing that while one sweeping ‘annual Christmas Letter’ approach may work in some cases, it falls short in most situations.  Futhermore, many additional group-oriented communications that are still crying out for a social graph-based application.   In my own real life family experience,  School Directories, Neighborhood Lists, Soccer Team Rosters and Parent Lists, to name only a few, are scattered and hard to access and maintain.

Once, while watching a heavy downpour douse nearby soccer fields,  my son, a friend and I, found ourselves in a huge parking lot filled with other soccer parents in the same situation.  When an official’s megaphone announced there would be a 90-minute delay, we cobbled together an hoc cell phone chain to organize a impromptu lunch at a nearby diner.  It was harder and more time consuming than it needed to be.

Multiple Personas
Throw on top of this that you may want to communicate to your various groups from different personas, maybe as soccer coach for example, and it’s easy to see that this space is wide open for innovation.  Presently I have two primary online personas: my professional one (e.g. this blog being one part of that persona) and my photography persona, where I go by ‘Rocky Mountain Joe‘ .  I have Twitter accounts for each, as well as separate Facebook profiles.    But it starts getting complicated when I want to do a Facebook ‘Like‘ on something, or sling a link out on Twitter…..   “Lets see,  am I logged in now to Facebook as fjglynn, or rockymountainjoe ?”

We are obviously only in the early days of social networking-enabled applications.  We are just beginning to see players helping us manage our on-line personas.   The Twitter iPhone/iPad apps do a lovely job at managing multiple accounts.  We find Foursquare valuable, because one can construct a dedicated social graph, scoped to your more trusted set of friends that you want to see your Check-ins.

Different Apps, At Least for Now
In the short run, at least,  we will see multiple separate social graphs built independently into applications like Foursquare.  There are challenges even to build on top of Facebook, especially for apps to attract a business audience is challenging as Charles Hudson has articulated in a recent post.  To be sure, Facebook recognizes the need for more granular controls, and are beginning to pilot solutions.  But without a well designed intuitive interface, users may feel more confident with a separate app when they only want to let  their closest pals know they’ve just checked in to the afternoon ballgame.

Finally, I know what I’ll be reading over my break this Christmas Season:  Social Circles How offline relationships influence online behavior and what it means for design and marketing (Voices That Matter), by Paul Adams is due out on December 19th, 2010.  If it’s in eBook form, I’ll have it that day in seconds.

To build the graphic above for this blog post, in addition to  Paul’s presentation, and Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, I drew upon ‘Connected‘ by Harvard professor and health care policy specialist Nicholas Christakis and collaborator James Fowler.

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14 Books to Prepare for The Social Tidal Wave

There’s a forest fire raging in Boulder, Colorado this week.  Like it has during other natural disasters, Twitter has become a spontaneous communication tool as officials and residents post some relevant information, perhaps a link, and then mark it with a hashtag, in this case, #boulderfire. Earlier in the week there was a failure in the Reverse 911 system, and Command asked that evacuation notices be posted as Tweets. Other tweets offered a place for Pets to be housed, and one from Pica’s in Boulder, offered a meal to anyone evacuated.

This technology isn’t creating the caring and helping social behavior in this situation, but it is allowing the innate human behavior and the necessary connections to occur.  This demonstrates why understanding the social aspects of communication are so critical to designing social networking-enabled services that are coming as part of the current Social Tidal Wave.  (See previous post)

To that end, the iBook and Kindle apps on my iPad and iPod have filling up with books that could as easily be assigned in a Sociology course as they would in  a technical course on Internet-based communications.

Here are 14 that taken together paint a vivid image of how new collaborative technologies are enabling social behaviors to occur on a much more rapid and global scale, and allow distributed collective knowledge to be brought to bear  in ways not previously possible.

So, in the order I’ve read them, here are the 14:

The Tipping Point – How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, by Malcolm Gladwell

The Facebook Effect – The Inside Story of the Company That is Connecting the World, by David Kirkpatrick

Social Intelligence – The New Science of Human Relationships, by Daniel Goleman

The Wisdom of Crowds, by James Surowiecki

Here Comes Everybody – The Power of Organizing Without Organizations, by Clay Shirky

Connected – The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks, by Nicholas A. Christakis and James H. Fowler

Trust Agents – Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust, by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith

Six Pixels of Separation- Everyone is Connect.  Connect Your Business to Everyone, by Mitch Joel

Viral Loop – From Facebook to Twitter, How Today’s Smartest Businesses Grow Themselves, by Adam L Penenberg

Socialnomics – How Social media transforms the way we live and do business, by Erik Qualman

The Great Reset – How New Ways of Living and Working Drive Post-Crash Prosperity, by Richard Florida

Engage – The Complete Guide for Brands and Businesses to Build, Cultivate, and Measure Success in the New Web, by Brian Solis

Hamlet’s Blackberry – A Practical Philosophy for Building a Good Life in the Digital Age, by William Powers

Cognitive Surplus – Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age, by Clay Shirky

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The Social Tidal Wave

Yesterday, I bought a song on my iPhone using iTunes.   A “OMG” good song: Zorbing, by Stornoway on their Beachcomber’s Windowsill release.  It is soooo good,  one of those songs that you find yourself listening to it over and over again.   Impulsively, I wanted to tell all my music friends about it.

Then I realized…..of course…..Ping!   They would already know I bought it.   Now, like most people so far, I’ve only a few friends following me on Ping, but I’m going to use this little experience, and this awesome song to start getting my music friends to connect with Ping.  And we can see where this can lead.  Apple, when they integrate Ping more with “iPod” in addition to iTunes,  may make my “rating” of it visible in Ping, and allow my music friends to see my incessant listening of it.  This will make for a great music experience.

So far, there are many takes on Ping, and many, like Jacqui Cheng’s, on the day following Ping’s release, who chose to start her post with:  “Because we all need another social network in our lives…” seemed to see Ping first as a social network.  But the author of the Juixe Techknow blog really nailed it.   The post was headlined “Apple Ping Is Not a Social Network Siteand observed that it was really about “social commerce.”

Stretching grammar a bit, I might instead say it’s really about:  Commerce, socially.   And I think Apple is right on, and maybe should have done it earlier.  Nike, with their iPod-connected Nike Running program, got it a long time ago.   It’s all about using ‘social’ to bring a richer experience to the customer to help sell their running shoes.  In Apple’s case, its all about making the iTunes and iPod music experience more complete– it will be cool with your friends pinging you about good music.  Frankly,  I’m desperate for this, since the physically social environment of college dorm days are behind me, I am always thirsty for new artists.

The New Imperative

I’m struck by the parallel between the growing urgency to build ‘social’ into all our experiences, to the “Internet Tidal Wave” memo that Bill Gates sent to all of Microsoft in 1995.  In the introduction he wrote:  “Now I assign the Internet the highest level of importance.  In this memo I want to make clear that our focus on the Internet is critical to every part of our business.”

Fast-forward to today, and the new imperative is clear: focusing on how to socially-enable your products and services is critical.  It’s not about building new social networks, but instead about adding “social” to your business model.

And while you’re at it, check out Zorbing by Stornoway on iTunes, and if you like it, you can follow me on Ping. I’m FJ Glynn there…

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Twitter as a Link Relay Service

I love Twitter, and I’m only just beginning to learn how to really use it.  More so than any other recent new technology,  my view of how to use it has slowly evolved, shaped mostly by how more experienced tweeters use it.

OK, we knew it was a “micro-blogging” service, but this article (itself relayed to me by a friend’s tweet!) really opened my eyes to the emerging role that Twitter can play as a “Link Relay Relay Service”.

Combine the iPad, Twitter messages with links from the interesting people you follow, and, as this article points out, Flipboard or Twitter’s own iPad app, and you have an lovely reading experience, that lets you blissfully flip and swipe and tap to move from article to article, and post to post.

And it’s fascinating to see the strategic spot that Twitter is crafting for itself.  Since they are now using their own link shorting service, they sit at the center of it all, and see many of the links passed around, and then who clicks on them.   In Malcolm Gladwell’s language from Tipping Point, they’ll have a insightful view on who are the mavens and connectors.  This will be valuable to Twitter.

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