The unbearable lightness of being on Twitter

Change does not come easily to most human beings. On the whole we like what we know and treat change as a threat or at least a stranger who we are not sure we want to get to know. When I started as a web designer it was largely because of an uninvited change – technology changed the market I was working in (illustration) and I had to adapt to survive. Even if we don’t like the things that make us change we can still enjoy the ride as I now do as a web designer and I am almost getting used to getting shaken up at regular intervals by the latest changes in web design and internet culture.

Twitter represents the latest of these changes so here’s a record of my attempts to deal with it…

Please make it go away

Twitter changes so fast and generates such a massive volume of information that it beggars belief. How do those of us born in the age of steam and those inclined to follow their instinctive aversion to the new make sense of this?

- By all means do try ignoring it, that seems a pretty sensible first tactic in my book and very effective if the offending phenomenon is short lived.
- It’s also worth trying to laugh it out of town, pour scorn on the ridiculous notion that 140 character messages could ever amount to anything significant or meaningful.
- Compare it to very long and painstakingly slowly created cultural landmarks like War and Peace or the Sistine Chapel – it’s quite obvious which is superior.
- Campaign for a slower life rather than a faster one, slow food has caught on in a modest and rather exclusive sort of way after all, slow equates with something more humane and expensive while fast equates with something stupidly fleeting, cheap and meaningless.

So there you have it, Twitter is floored, finished off, never likely to darken our door again, so what shall we deal with next?

Going with the flow

Despite those devastating arguments Twitter is still going strong and growing all the time so at this point I felt I had to get to know my enemy. That is easier said than done.

Once you have decided that Twitter is worth a look after all the question is: “How will I ever get up to speed and keep up with all these people who don’t appear to have anything else to do all day?” Since I decided to write this article I have discovered that there are zillions of top tips about Twitter, try putting “best twitter tips” (or similar) into a search engine you will get no end of results like this:
http://techcrunch.com/2009/01/25/kevin-rose-10-ways-to-increase-your-twitter-followers/
A lot of those results are very similar but they will get you started. And here’s a whole site dedicated to Twitter tips and nothing else:
http://www.twitip.com/10-hot-twitter-tips/

Here’s my top 10:
1. The twitter help pages, seems so obvious you might overlook them – but they are dependable – http://support.twitter.com/
2. Twitter Search – there must be reason this is not on the homepage, here you can search for subjects rather than people – http://search.twitter.com/
3. A basic you will need to keep messages short is an URL shortener which you can get here:
http://bit.ly or here http://tinyurl.com
4. Pretty early on you should try and understand and start using Hashtags:
http://support.twitter.com/articles/49309-what-are-hashtags-symbols
http://twitter.pbworks.com/Hashtags
5. This one’s hard for all beginners to understand, the @ symbol and the basics of other peoples Twitter address:
http://support.twitter.com/groups/31-twitter-basics/topics/109-tweets-messages/articles/14023-what-are-replies-and-mentions
I daresay that if you have a massive network of friends and colleagues using twitter you might get to understand the niceties of how to use the @ symbol pretty quickly, as for the rest of us, I live in hope that one day I will master it. As it is I don’t get to use it much as so few of my contemporaries use twitter, but I will get there in the end, rest assured.
6. So that’s my ten top Twitter tips and the list only goes as far number six which is a bit like getting let out of school early – good luck out there. If you get lost you could always try this: http://mashable.com/guidebook/twitter/
7. Whatever you do, do not get caught in this: http://mashable.com/2009/03/10/twitter-followholic/

That’s all for now, do let me know your perspective on this if you can spare a moment away from trying to stay abreast of the latest twitter trend…

Follow me on:
http://twitter.com/sfella55
Follow Pedalo on:
http://twitter.com/pedalowebdesign
Follow Discover writers on:
http://twitter.com/discoverwriters

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