Making peace with Twitter
Actually, I'd been introduced to the world of 140-character tweets at a new media conference in 2008. It didn't stick, though, because it got trumped in the crush of other ideas and content that I tried to sort through when I returned to work. This year, along with everyone else in my newsroom making a full-blown transition to digital journalism, I reactivated my account and hurtled back into the Twitterverse.
With tweets and smartphone texts threatening to make email obsolete (yes, it's already become old school for some folks), I knew I needed to up my game.
Logging on, I confronted a virtual firehose of information -- a main news feed with tweets from a lot of unfamiliar names plus a few people and icons I recognized. As with any new activity, it took a while to get my bearings. Now here I sit, as of this moment "following" 300 people, with 382 "followers" of my own and having sent 471 tweets. My followers -- those who for whatever reason have chosen to receive access to my tweets -- include a mix of co-workers, friends, assorted strangers, corporate entities and public relations specialists.
With the help of our social media coordinator, I graduated to Tweetdeck, a software program that displays multiple columns of incoming messages that you customize, and Hoot Suite, an equivalent program that you access by email, which means you can launch it from any computer.
Now I totally realize what students were telling me two years ago in a class I taught as an adjunct at the local state university. As a rule, they don't go looking for news from any particular web site such as The New York Times or NPR. Rather, the news comes to them, sometimes from their home page but more often through Facebook recommendations and tweets, with shortened URLs that make it super-easy to follow a link to the specific article, photo or video.
Such sharing, through social media, has exploded since I taught the class so I don't fault myself too much for not fully grasping the idea way back in 2009. Now I get it, and so I'm tweeting and "liking" stuff along with everyone else.
I guess you could say I've made my peace with Twitter. Tweet me @georgerede
(More to come on Twitter in tomorrow's blog post.)
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