Q&A: Whither Twitter?

Here are some questions and responses about Twitter. I have followed the usual practice of deleting any personal information about any of the respondents. That being said I have already found these responses very useful and would like to share them with readers of this blog.

David Badertscher

What is Twitter? What does it do? How can one use it in a workday enviornment? Should one use it in a workday environment?


Twitter is a form of microblogging. And it’s free, which is always good. It differs from Instant Messaging in that IM is specific between two people; Twittermessages go out to the world at large. You know what someone is saying by going to their profile page on Twitter but usually by choosing to follow them. Anyone who follows my feed gets everything I send out, whether it’s related to serial renewals and OPAC features or links to recipes and Weight Watcher blogs.

Some people make clear distinctions about how they will use a Twitter account – work only, personal life only, or a combination. Mine is a combo but primarily work. Remember that deciding to do a work-only account means that’s all you will talk about — but if you follow me, you will see other things being discussed by seeing my responses to other people. Right now that’s mostly reference/electronic services librarians. To see my conversations, check out: http://twitter.com/annemyers

I downloaded a little Firefox Add on called “twitterfox” which lets me monitor tweets from the people I follow while I’m in Firefox. It’s my method of choice; there are others, including just keeping a window open to the Twitter site.

Does it take time? Sure, but you can spend as much or as little as you like. One really good way to limit it is to not follow every single person you know. Check their tweets for a while and if they’re distracting or not useful, just remove them from your list. I mostly work in Millennium working on serials problems and don’t see or worry about tweets while I’m there.

At first most people (including me) put up little things like “Had pizza for lunch” or other statements of fact. After a little practice, though, and seeing how others were using it, I jumped in with comments to the world at large or as replies to specific people. And I’ve discovered I’m building a little social network that brings me information, makes me giggle, points out interesting links, or simply scrolls by while I work on other things.

How would I use it with [Library] Technical Services people? Maybe tweet something short and sweet such as “Anyone go to the Charleston Conference?” instead of sending it in an email. Tweets are limited to 140 characters so you can’t say a lot! It’s also good for quick communication with others on the library staff.

I hope this helps a little. I’m still figuring how how Twitter will work for me but so far I just love it and haven’t found it taking over my life. I’m saving Facebook for that!
I saw Twitter for the first time at the conference in Portland. I was working at the local arrangement booth and a librarian from […deleted…] showed it to me. Remember that “Family Reunion” that was going on at the same time in the Convention Center? He asked one of the attendees what it was all about, and then he went on Twitter to post what he learned (it was a direct sales group similar to Amway).
We used Twitter at the SLA conference to report little gems from sessions and that was great! It was a great learning experience and it made the conference feel like a community effort. I highly recommend separating out your work and personal accounts.

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