My "following 140, 140 followers & 1400 tweets later" fanfare

I know it's kinda infantile & "sad", but I may as well mark it anyhow. On the 29th of April this year at 16.31, I tweeted for the first time.

@micfitzgerald had persuaded me to try it out - thought it might be good for business in some way. I had ignored Twitter up to then, and argued with Mic that it would not be my kind of thing. However, with the recession I had more time on my hands; I had shut down the office in Dublin & set up a kind of virtual office whereby my colleauges, clients & I started using Skype and hotel lobbies more. That day, the 29th of April, I had finally settled a home office arrangement in the box room and out of curiosity decided to give this Twitter lark a look.

Now 1400 tweets later, I'm what might be called a light-user. I don't base my whole day around it, but it has become as important to me as email (especially that things are so much quieter on the client side) and has taken the place of my old private journal-type blog where I used to note down thoughts & ideas. It has also made up for the lack of interaction I have with colleagues & clients: it's a very different interaction but it can actually be surprisingly satisfying.

I've begun writing something that I'm gonna air for the day that's in it, prematurely or not:

Twitter is a website where people leave short text messages sometimes to each other sometimes to no one in particular. It's a virtual message board which upon first visiting is blank. You need to decide whose messages you are going to allow to be pinned to your message board. You can choose from friends, family, colleagues or peers; people you know but also people you don't know at all. You can choose musicians or artists of any kind whose work you admire. Maybe you'll find out from them about a concert or exhibition that you might otherwise have missed. You can choose radio stations or any media whose news coverage you like. Maybe you'll pick up an important detail about something that matters to you. Maybe you'll come across interesting or amusing opinions about things that interest you.

What you end up with is a message board flowing past you throughout the day with news, information, opinions, ideas, thoughts, expressions of emotions, and a good deal of irrelevant and sometimes annoying nonsense.

Today is a good day on my message board.

The ever-smiling @darraghdoyle is there "typing like a mad thing." He greets us all: "Morning there you, hope you have a great day. Anything nice planned?" [At other times: “is on top form, thanks for asking. About to have a mega day and if I can make yours in any way better, let me know. Can't hurt to ask! ;)”] He shares news of another exciting event that might have otherwise passed me by, as well as one of his stream of jokes: "I missed last weekend's World Walking The Plank Competition," he complains .. "but not to worry I'm hoping to get a DVD of the action, a pirate copy." I chuckle despite myself.

The not-afraid-to-share it @curlydena is having a good day, despite overindulging the night before: "oh dear, i'm feisty today. will blame the hangover for my bluntness. am actually in a v chirpy mood really. hangover = less tact perhaps." She worries too that "a friend's updates on facebook are making me pretty sure he's having some kind of breakdown. appears to have totally lost the plot :-/". She also expresses some views on an ad with which I totally agree. I reply as much.

The indefatigable @micfitzgerald (yes, he who can be blamed in the first place, for pushing Twitter on me) has reached Dublin for another series of meetings, but is now “heading to good old Stag’s Head”. I write that I thought he was at a meeting, to which he replies “I am ‘working’ … but Guinness is great” and he offers us a vision of what life offline is like in the city centre at that moment: bizzing is how he puts it, whether coining a new term or hitting the wrong pads on his iPhone I don’t know but it works either way!!

@topgold is out of the country at the moment, visiting his hometown in the USA. But he doesn't forget to keep us all posted. "Got a haircut in the shop where my forebears sold flowers in the 1880s. Now I look like a Marine and people greet me in flag-waving country." He writes a lot and well about the little ways technology can benefit us, always with a very personal perspective, and for these insights some people do more than just follow him: "Several of my harvested blog posts are selling phones, hotel rooms and sunglasses," he observes. "All without my approval." “I really enjoy morning walks with my mom, Queen Matriarch of our housing estate. (Shuffles out for another.)”

I follow this amazing, hyper-active guy @jerng “a citizen of Malaysia,” as he describes it: “a modern banana republic, with an underdeveloped financial market.” “I write about youth in Asia. I'm interested in analytical phenomenology” he explains in his bio, referring to a particular way of viewing experience. Many of his messages go just beyond my reach, but I read them nonetheless, in hope: “No need for sleep tonight. Been slacking off all weekend.” Some of his thoughts are on business in awkward place: “Notes for novices: If living in a nation of gossip and slander, set ground rules before going into business. Else you'll get played.” Other thoughts are about a Liberal Arts Education enables one to partake in debauchery, omphaloskepsis, and self-appointed mavenry. “Some think that Western phiosophy consists of footnotes to Aristotle. I prefer to think of it as Modern, footnotes to Kant.” “Irony of commerce: certain business owners and certain consultants should switch roles. They would do each other's job better.” “one of my strategies is something along the lines of mastering commerce towards securing a throne in analytical philosophy.”

Other accounts I follow just to keep up with news & things I’m interested in: RTE Business, Guardian Books and what not. I’ve been really impressed with events tweeting, whereby people tweet their notes while at a conference or talk and you get a real-time experience of what’s being said. I’m not so into the TV-tweeting whereby people sit with their laptop while watching a TV programme or a match and offer their opinions, but I can see lots of people are well into it. I’m also impressed & excited by the level of political & media interaction that Twitter has facilitated for the general public to experience with politicians and journalists – there is great potential there.

Anyway, back to the moment: in contrast to the exhausting navigation demanded by the real world of traffic and meetings and moods-made-flesh, Twitter is a breeze. I feel optimistic again about humanity. Sometimes it can be infuriating & depressing, but mostly the experience reminds me of that sweet, comfie song from the sitcom Cheers:

Making your way in the world today takes everything you've got.
Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot.

Wouldn't you like to get away?

Sometimes you want to go

Where everybody knows your name,
and they're always glad you came.
You wanna be where you can see,
our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows
Your name.


topgold said...

I hope you don't mind having your post enshrined in my third level social media module as essential reading material.

Penhire said...

Honoured. (It's a work-in-progress, though.)

jerng said...

Wow, thanks for the mention. I should pay more attention to what I put in my posts. Haha.