The first thing people say when realizing just how many friends I’m reading on Twitter is, “How do you read it all?” The shortest answer? I don’t read it ALL. I use Twitter a little differently than you might be using it. Let me explain a bit more what I do with Twitter. This is how *I* use it. You can do it your own way. But I thought I’d share.
Twitter is The Matrix
Or rather, it’s a directed communication stream. I’ve observed that people use it in the following ways:
- Actual personal status. (I’m hungry. My dog ran away.)
- Pointers to interesting links.
- Marketing for personal blog traffic.
- Group Instant Messaging.
- Question and Answer.
- Group Appreciation of a Shared Experience.
- Live micro-blogging.
Search for Me
I try to make sure if someone’s addressing me, I answer them. I use Twittersearch and search on “Brogan” to see who’s talking about me, so I can answer any questions. I try to reply to as many as possible, but it depends on what mode I’m in. If I’m on the laptop, I answer lots. If I’m on the crackberry, not as much.
Dip Into the Stream
I find Twitter is my #1 recommender of links. I read other people’s stuff and then follow their links all the time. This gets me to more places faster, I feel, than what comes from my RSS reading. So sometimes, I just take a dip in Twitter to see what people are talking about. Think of it as personalized StumbleUpon from trusted sources.
This includes just having the occasional @ conversation with someone. Nice to prove we’re all humans, right?
Presence and Attention
I use Twitter most often to answer the question: “What’s got your attention?” Sometimes, that’s my blog posts. Other times, that’s something I found on a blog, or via a friend. That’s how I’ve chosen to interpret my 140 characters.
Question and Answer
I use Twitter OFTEN to ask questions. It could be “What’s a good service to combine many RSS feeds into one?” or it could be “Should I go see Transformers or Spider Man 3?” In all cases, I get good opinions and advice. I often answer people’s questions there, should I have an answer, and more often than that, I direct one friend to another’s aide.
There’s a VAST wealth of opportunity to help people via Twitter. It can be something stupid like hooking someone up with an invite to a software trial. It might be finding someone a job, or pointing someone to articles they can use for a blog post. In the language of Mr. Steve Gillmor, there are plenty of opportunities to enact a “gesture.”
Sometimes, I use Twitter to bitch and moan. It’s not my favorite use, but I find that it’s so IMMEDIATE. And so that’s truthfully another way I use it.
My Theory on Friends
I say yes to every friend request barring a few exceptions: I no longer say yes to languages I can’t read. I don’t say yes to fictional characters. I don’t say yes to people with 5,000 friends and 38 followers. I don’t say yes to auto-services that update every time there’s a blog post. Other than that, I add whoever wants to count me as a friend. I find I no longer seek out friends. Occasionally, someone will @ with someone else, and I might add that person to get both sides. But otherwise, I don’t really add many folks. I just appreciate who stops by.
Other than that, if you’re a human, you’re in.
How I DON’T use Twitter
I don’t just read and read and read. I have over 1200 friends. I skim. I surf. I occasionally drill down. But I don’t just read the stream wide-out and full bore. I can’t. It’s no longer set up to accomplish this for me.
It’s a big vast sea of data, and that data ties to humans. The humans are doing a better job of keeping up a living web than any other service out there. It’s the new gate-basher that gives me access to the minds of brilliant leaders, thoughtful community types, and passionate creators. And I continue to appreciate the service more than any other technology in 2007.
How do YOU Use Twitter?
I’d love your thoughts.
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