A Week of Tweeting

I started using Twitter in earnest at 9:16 AM on the 5th of April, 2009 (Eastern Standard USian time).

And it was good.

Since then I have tweeted around 15 times a day. And that’s only because I was restraining myself. Why did no one warn me how addictive the world of Twitter is? Damn your eyes!

I admit I was dubious. I signed on at first solely to follow two friends of mine back home in Sydney. Neither of whom blogs and we’re not very good at writing each other. It worked. I feel much more in touch with them than I had previously. Though, ironically, I’m now tweeting way more than they are. See? Even on Twitter I am verbose.1

Lots of big claims are being made for Twitter’s power of social networking. It can certainly spread news faster than sound. Yesterday’s amazonfail being an excellent example.

Turns out I like the 140 character constraint. Forces you to edit for clarity, which is an excellent skill and something I rarely practice here on my blog. Watch those extraneous prepositions, adverbs and adjectives disappear.

But mostly I like that it’s a huge roaming multi-threaded conversation. A multi-country, slowed down, many person IM conversation. The trick is remembering that it’s every bit as public as this blog.

So questions for those of you who Twitter:

What’s your take on Twitter? Why do you tweet? If you blog has it meant you blog less? Is that because it satisfies your blogging urge? Is it something you check in on every so often? Or do you follow it all day long? Are you in a field where you have to be on Twitter to keep tabs on what’s going on?

I is dead curious about your responses.

  1. Look at me now: discussing Twiter in way more than 140 characters. []


  1. Jeanne on #

    I joined Twitter very recently too, and it was because so many of my book blogger acquaintances had been talking it up. It doesn’t make me blog less; in fact I’ve been tweeting once a day or so telling folks when a new blog post is up. I like following folks who keep up with issues, like you and Scalzi.

  2. Phiala on #

    Hm. Well, one good outcome of Twitter: chatting briefly with you yesterday inspired me to finally pull out the Dragon’s Blood fountain pen and the current project and do final edits.

    On the other hand, writing about Twitter is currently preventing me from working on the vastly overdue Monday morning project.

    The rapid news cycle has pros and cons as well. Pro: Watching Neil Gaiman learn he’d won the Newbery in almost real-time. Con: Watching things like #amazonfail get wildly ahead of any actual or information.

    I chat with friends, post random bits of mostly-useless information, and stalk famous people. (Nicely, of course.) I think I do blog a bit less – the photo and brief caption posts have become twitpics instead, mostly. I don’t have the time and energy for Facebook or LJ a lot of time time, and Twitter provides the connection (though brief) without the overhead.

    I have a Firefox twitter plugin lurking in the corner of my browser so I can peek in regularly (don’t tell my boss). I do turn it off for large portions of the day, or as needed.

  3. Dave H on #

    I like it because it lets me do more real-time updating from sporting events or quick thoughts during the day that don’t seem worth an entire blog post.

    I have been blogging less because of it, but I suspect that will balance out. I used it a lot during my hugely chaotic end to March instead of making a bazillion short blog posts, but now I’ll get back to making substantive LJ posts and quick-hitting Twitter posts.

    #amazonfail was amazing in good ways and bad. It was great that so much momentum could be built so quickly to fight an injustice, but I hope that the wave of anger isn’t so out-of-control that people won’t listen to what Amazon has to say today. If they got manipulated by outside sources or even let loose a badly designed algorithm that didn’t do what it was supposed to do, they’ve done enough good that they deserve a chance to make that right.

  4. Pope Lizbet on #

    I tweet a lot! It doesn’t keep me from blogging (which I only did sporadically, anyway) but it does allow me to keep up with more interesting things from people and entities I enjoy following, like the SF/F publishers (and writers like you)! I’ve now got the Pagan Unity Festival on Twitter (@paganunityfest) and in three days we had three inquiries from people we don’t know, asking for ticket info, site specifics, and other good signs that they’re thinking about attending our festival.

    When I’m next to the computer, I have TweetDeck to keep me in touch all day long. I certainly don’t need it for my professional job, but it’s invaluable for promoting things like my friend Catherynne M. Valente’s newest novel (@PalimpsestNovel) or GBMojo, the band that’s going to play PUF 09 (@gingerdoss & @bekahkelso), which I consider to be specialized volunteer work to help out my indie and self-promoted people.

  5. Justine on #

    Jeanne: Hah! I wish I was keeping up with issues. Mostly I just whinge about how cold it is. 🙂

    Phiala: I still think your pen is crazy.

    Dave Hogg: We writers of YA experience exactly that kind of censorship often. Particularly over issues of sexuality and sexual preference. It’s a big red button trigger for many of us. Which is why I reacted the way I did.

    And whatever caused it with Amazon—trolling, a glitch, corporate policy—the fact remains that their setup allows books to be reported and stripped of sales rank/searchability. I think that’s a huge problem.

  6. Diana Peterfreund on #

    I’ve been twittering for a while, and I really like it. I do it from my phone. You’re right, it’s like a massive IM convo. I love IM. Too much, I think.

  7. The Book Monkey on #

    I’ve been on Twitter for a long time, longer than @thebookmonkey would suggest.

    It’s an addictive hobby, but useful for keeping in touch with friends, meeting new people, and causing mischief.

    I tend to blog less as life gets busy, and tweet to fill the gaps, I suppose. Though @thebookmonkey is a bit of an experiment in anonymity. So that’s a different story. I do check Twitter multiple times throughout the day, but not because my field requires me to.

  8. Phiala on #

    My pen is not either crazy! How do you know it was a good editing session if you don’t have ink all over yourself?

  9. Shauna on #

    Oh, you just started Twittering a week ago?! I had thought you were a pro and that you had been addicted long before that!

    I have a separate blog that I write in nearly every day. Twitter isn’t anything like a blog for me. I’m not recording anything that has happened. Whereas blogging or even Facebook seem to me better for keeping up with people over long times and distances, Twitter is much more suited for me to keep up with people who are actually affected by what I do from hour to hour! Plus I love hearing from all the writers I follow. I think part of the reason I am addicted to it is I can check it from my phone. So any time I am remotely close to having nothing to do with my hands, I can check my Twitter and there’s always something new and funny to read. I do check it obsessively. That’s one of the reasons I quit a while ago. I came back because I found so many YA writers on it and it’s become a big party this time around XD

  10. Sigrid Ellis on #

    I blogged about Twitter here:


    The tl;dr is that Twitter is a form of social proprioception, a way of mapping the shape of other’s lives in low-intensity ways to construct a form of intimacy over distance.

    I have two Twitters, a private one for people I know well (regardless of distance) and a public one — sigridellis — for following writers, bloggers, and artists. My private Twitter is sent to my phone and I use it to talk about things with a lesser degree of thought. More irritation might show there, or excitement. When I’m bored in line, I spam Twitter from my phone. My public Twitter I use to participate in broader conversation at a more measured rate. I also use it for publicizing my blogging and writing.

    Yet I cannot divorce who I am entirely from the public Twitter — after all, I want people to remember *me*. I want them to see my Tweets and remember who, of the stream of people whose thoughts drift by, I am. I want them to think Fantastic Fangirls, and air traffic controller, and home-schooling mom, and feminist, because all of that will help them form a sense of connection with me. That sense of connection will then give my voice more weight, emotionally, than the voice of someone of whom they (you) have never heard.

    We’re one of the largest gossip networks on the planet, here on Twitter. I want people to see my name and know, somewhat, the shape of the life behind it.

  11. Q on #

    I follow blogging friends and authors who have Twitter, mainly. I don’t think it makes me blog less, because there are things I blog about and then there are things I tweet about. My tweets are a lot less formal and a lot more trivial than my blog posts. They also have more of my voice in them.

  12. Corey J Feldman on #

    I twitter at lunch and evenings, or if I desperately need a quick mental break from work. I catch whoever is on at the moment and for a few I go back and read anything I missed. I twitter stuff I never would have bothered blogging but it is rare that I wouldn’t blog something just because I twittered it. If anything it may have increased my blogging because I have network of people that actually read my blog because of the relationships we have forged on twitter.

  13. Tim Pratt on #

    I’ve been on twitter for a few months, and it has led to less blogging — I also tend to assume I already blogged something, when in reality I just tweeted it, and so I occasionally do these catchall catch-up entries in my blog. But, yes, it is a wide-ranging and enjoyable multi-way instant messaging session, with acceptable time lags, and I’ve had some great conversations on it. I like twitter.

  14. Dave H on #

    Justine: I can understand your reaction, and I’m still not sure why Amazon has been so low-key in their responses. I know there is now someone out there claiming responsibility, but I still don’t buy it. I think Amazon meant to take a few very adult-oriented books off the sales-ranking lists (a bad idea) and tried to do it with a algorithm designed by a committee (a very bad idea) without testing it properly (insanity).

    If they had been hacked or manipulated, why not say so? And I just don’t believe they have suddenly chosen to damage their public image this badly. It had to have been a misguided idea that was handled even worse.

  15. Patrick on #

    I am disappointed that #nopants is not listed as a related hashtag.

    I don’t twitter because I talk to much and am too weird. People not get it as it is….

    What did you have for breaksfat?

  16. HoolieP on #

    As a recent convert to both Twitter and blogging (funny, that anonymous commenter who showed up yesterday… deeelightful!), I’m finding that so far they reinforce each other. Just having ANYTHING pouring out of my fingertips and into the Blog-Tweet (Bleet?)-osphere feels great. And it was amazing to be part of amazonfail. I’m looking forward to seeing how it all plays out. (Twitter vs. Blog, not just amazonfail.)

  17. E. Kristin Anderson on #

    Like you, I only just started using my twitter account. I’d actually previously denounced twitter’s usefulness, considering it silly and self-indulgent. But I love that it keeps me up to date with news & friends, and allows me to post about my cat’s dental surgery without going into detail. I mean, who needs that?

    I’ve always understood why twitter is a good idea for a brand (BookPeople has an account) or an individual who IS brand – like an author or musician – but now I’m beginning to get why it’s a good idea for the rest of us, too. Plus, it IS terrifyingly addictive.

  18. Sean S. on #

    I just got mine yesterday. I updated it five times, for no reason at all really. I don’t blog and I just feel the constraint forces you to be the point.

    Plus, restrictions bring about creative ways to say something.

  19. Malcolm Tredinnick on #

    I’m not a huge fan of the massive IM conversation aspect, since if you’re only following one side of that — fairly normal unless you’re in a very tightly knit network of mutual followers — it’s confusing and leads to annoying. If I want a massive IM conversation, I’ll use IRC, although that’s not what the Kool Kids do these days, apparently.

    That’s not to dismiss the fact that some people like that or use it that way. No problem there. And I follow people who do if they’re otherwise interesting enough.

    Personally, I do mostly broadcasts of “stuff I’m doing”, varying from pretty tech-oriented to random musing and life in general crap. I’ll admit I’m pretty well known to be weird in that respect. My habits are changing over time, too.

    (Is it only me, or do other people get addicated to making their twitter posts exactly 140 characters when it would otherwise be 138 or 139?)

  20. Amber on #

    I don’t twitter because I don’t have friends who twitter, but I did keep up with the group of authors who went to the Castle and it was fun.

    IM in it’s previous form is pretty much out, and been taken over by facebook chat, other blogs, and twitter. Me, I pick and choose which ones I use.

  21. Stefanie on #

    I actually blog more because of twitter. I’ve been using Twitter as a way for people to find out about my site. Since I love to Tweet now, I started a photo project that both keeps me tweeting via my phone and web plus keeps me updating my blog. It’s a cycle that works for me!

  22. jonathan on #

    I’m a sporadic tweeter. Some days I’m more active than others. I’m not sure if it has affected my blogging, maybe slightly. Like you suggested, it satisfies a bit of the same desire that blogging seeks to satisfy. But I want to do more than twitter allows, so I still blog. A bit.

  23. Michelle Sagara on #

    I’ve been tweeting for less than a week (I think). I look at it as a status update, sort of. Well, actually, that’s what I thought when I started. But I like the Twitter updates during the day; I like the links that pop up while I should be working and don’t have the time to read RSS feeds or LJ feeds.

    Ummm, that’s probably not a really conclusive answer. I guess I’m not entirely sure yet >.>

  24. CM Shevlin on #

    Wasn’t convinced at first but finding it increasingly addictive. Mainly use it to tweet about nonevents but wouldn’t have found out about the recent Amazonfail scandal until significantly later if it wasn’t for twitter.

  25. Diane on #

    very addicted to twitter but thankfully can only access it at home.

    Still only blogging once a week – never had time to blog daily.

    It’s much quicker to tweet.

    I also have twitter pages for two of the characters of my current work in progress, and they tweet as I edit, or sometimes they argue with me or each other.

    They are @kirstymcinnes and @chloewatkins.

    And it’s fun having fictional characters on there.

  26. genevieve on #

    Justine, you could write an article from these responses.
    I’m afraid to go anywhere near Twitter because I already have a lot of people to talk to in short utterances here and use blogging to get more involved ideas down without tying myself in knots. If I’m going to write in 140 characters I would like to work on some haiku, ideally on paper (what an old fart I am now.)

    But it is fascinating to read this review of how it is working for people. Maybe I’ll pop in for a week or two to have a look…

  27. genevieve on #

    and definitely some people are blogging less – I am not getting as many feeds to read as I used to.

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