How do you choose your Twitter friends?

A few of my Twitter friends.

Lately I’ve been finding Twitter increasingly engaging and relevant in both my personal and professional life. I don’t follow a lot of people there: currently I have only 39 “Twitter friends,” only about a third of whom post regularly, the rest sporadically. But it’s useful. It helps me maintain a sense of personal connection at a distance, and it’s even helped me nurture new friendships.

How do I choose my Twitter friends? Mostly they’re people I’ve met or have corresponded with. I don’t tend to follow people simply because I’ve read their blogs or articles or like their music — but that’s just me. I generally feel I need some personal connection before I friend someone on Twitter.

Currently, my Twitter friends are mostly folks I know from the online-media field, since few of my family members or close friends from “meatspace” use Twitter (that I know of). Two of my Twitter friends are people I met last month at a conference in Catalonia. (See, I didn’t call it “Spain” this time!) They post mostly in Spanish, which is fun for me to try to interpret as I struggle to become less monolingual.

I also follow Teeth via Twitter — an aggregation of blog postings from Pakistan, which I find fascinating.

I tend to read someone’s Twitter posts for a couple of weeks and then keep them or not. This is a highly individual medium, and some people’s style of “tweeting” really doesn’t work for me, no matter how much I like them.

Anyway, that’s how I’m reaching out in this new conversational/social medium. What about you? How do you choose your Twitter friends? Please comment below — or reply to me on Twitter, if you follow me there.

I’m Twittering the Total Community Coverage seminar

Today through Saturday I’m in downtown Los Angeles participating in the Knight Digital Media Center’s Total Community Coverage in Cyberspace seminar. You can follow the action on the special Twitter page I set up for liveblogging. (More about that.)

I’m heading off to the opening luncheon now, so most likely will start “tweeting” this afternoon. I’ll also be posting materials for my workshop to Contentious and I, Reporter this evening.

Stay tuned!

Liveblogging via a second Twitter account

Twitter
I just created a separate Twitter account for liveblogging. You can follow me there.

One reason I started using the popular microblogging tool Twitter was to experiment with liveblogging events such as conference sessions. While Twitter is not a perfect tool for this prupose, it’s less clumsy than trying to liveblog with a traditional tool such as WordPress or Typepad, I’ve found.

When I’m live-Twittering an event, I tend to post lots of “tweets” in quick succession. This can be overwhelming to my regular Twitter followers.

Therefore I’ve decided to experiment with another Twitter liveblogging approach: I’ve created a separate Twitter account called amyliveblogging. When I liveblog an event (as I’ll do with some sessions at the Total Community Coverage seminar I’ll be attending and presenting at next week), I’ll do it through that account. This way, such posts won’t clutter my regular Twitter account.

This’ll give people who want to follow me on Twitter to get only my regular day-to-day tweets, only my event coverage, or both.

Again, this is all just an experiment. We’ll see how it works out.

What do you think of this approach? Got any questions, comments, or critiques? Please comment below.

Twitter actually can be useful

Some of my Twitter friends who helped me this weekend. Thanks!

Lately I’ve gotten back into Twitter — the service that is strangely addictive, yet people often can’t clearly articulate why they use it. It seems to have struck the online community at a subconscious level, and is seeking a conscious purpose or rationalization.

I’m agahran on Twitter, if you want to follow me there.

Twitter — or any “microblogging” service that focuses on very short posts — is an odd medium. It takes some time and practice to get a sense of what works here. When you first start, it helps to just choose a bunch of people you know or are interested in to follow and get a sense of the different styles of posting.

Over the weekend, I found Twitter useful when I learned that my blog was hacked by a spammer. As I rushed to understand what happened and what I needed to do to fix the problem, I posted to Twitter about it. I quickly received several Tweets, private messages, and e-mails in response to what I was Twittering about — mostly from people offering helpful advice or context, or helping me diagnose the problem.

Yes, the comments posted to my blog were very helpful. But Twitter was also helpful.

In my feed reader, I’ve subscribed to a feed for all tweets from the people I follow on Twitter. I scan that usually every couple of hours, as I’m checking other things in my feed reader. (For me, that’s more efficient than jumping to the Twitter site.) There I’ve found some timely leads for items I’ve ended up covering in Contentious, E-Media Tidbits, and elsewhere. Also, I’ve been able to offer fast assistance to friends in need — just like they did for me.

That’s the thing about having a social network: It’s most useful if you’re available to each other. Twitter can create that availability, but in a manageable way.

I’ll write more about this later. But in the meantime, how have you found Twitter (or other microblogging tools, like Jaiku or Tumblr) useful? Please comment below.

(Oh, and I just enabled the Twitterfeed tool, which should post a tweet announcing each new Contentious post. We’ll see if it works… UPDATE: Yep, it works!)

Lijit search: Good start as a “me collector”

Lijit as a “me collector” — see it in action in my sidebar.

Yesterday I finally got around to implementing the Lijit search widget on this blog. I didn’t realize until I started playing around with the widget settings that this cool little tool actually goes a long way toward being the kind of “me collector” I’ve been wanting.

Over the summer I wrote a post, I want one place for all my content: Pipe dream?, where I bemoaned the fact that since most of my work is distributed across various sites, forums, services, and social networks, it sometimes is hard for me to find and retrieve my own work.

Lijit allows me to create a search box that works across any collection of sites and accounts that I specify. You can now see it in action on the top of this blog’s sidebar. I have Lijit set to search the archives not only of Contentious.com, but also content I’ve posted on several services (my accounts on Del.icio.us, Flickr, Furl, Facebook, YouTube, etc.). Furthermore, it’ll also search my other projects such as The Right Conversation, I, Reporter, Boulder Carbon Tax Tracker, and more. I’ve also included the group weblogs E-Media Tidbits and SEJ2007, to which I’ve posted considerable content — although search results will pull up other folks’ contributions to those sites. And I’ve included my feed from Co.mments, the comment-tracking service where I track conversations I’ve joined on other blogs. (There again, Lijit returns comments by others in those threads, but my stuff is definitely included).

So now I can more easily find all of my stuff — and so can anyone who uses that search widget. Just remember that when you use my Lijit search, “blog” refers only to content on Contentious.com, while “content” pulls from all those resources I mentioned.

Also, I can update, add, or delete resources for my Lijit search widget and not have to generate new code and copy it to my site. I update my profile on Lijit, and the widget starts pulling from my updates list of resources. Way cool. Less hassle for me.

Plus Lijit gives me interesting search stats, too. That’s all free.

My “me collector” dream is still not completely fulfilled, however…
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Why blogging conferences is so damn hard

Think it’s easy blogging a blogging conference? Think again.

(UPDATE: If you’re reading this post in a feed reader, you may see a big block of spam below. Sorry about that — my blog has been hacked. I’m working to fix it.)

The thing about conferences is that, in my opinion, it’s really damn hard to both attend the conference and blog about it much — unless I go to the conference specifically to blog it. A lot of things get in the way.

Right now I’m at Blogworld Expo in Las Vegas, where yesterday my blogging ethics panel went very well (thanks to my excellent panelist and a very engaged audience). More about that panel later.

Here’s a quick rundown of my reasons (or excuses) why I have a hard time blogging at conferences, unless that’s my reason for being there…

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Twitter wildfire updates: Useful, or not?

Twittermap
Twittermap is one way to find recent individual “tweets” from the wildfire region — or anywhere.

As I intimated in today’s linkblog post, the widely trivialized microblogging service Twitter seems to be redeeming itself somewhat during the current Southern CA wildfire crisis.

HyperGene Media Blog noted yesterday that the free mobile-friendly service is being used by news outlets and emergency services to deliver text updates. (The best example of this so far, in my opinion, is from NPR affiliate radio station KPBS in San Diego.) And of course, many individual Twitter users in the affected regions are posting their own updates — one way to find these is TwitterMap.

My question for Twitter users: Are you using Twitter to follow (or post) news and updates about the Southern CA fires?

If so:

  • Is this useful for you?
  • Which kinds of news/updates are most helpful or significant to you? (Give examples)
  • Which fire-related tweets do you think are least helpful, or even annoying or potentially harmful? (Give examples)

Please comment below. Thanks!

Skin in the media game: Smart investing in the attention economy

Ian Ransley, via Flickr (CC license)
Do you treat online media like a spectator sport, or do you really have skin in this game?

Recently, my Poynter colleague Roy Peter Clark caused a stir with his article Your Duty To Read the Paper. There, he wrote:

“I pose this challenge to you: It is your duty as a journalist and a citizen to read the newspaper — emphasis on paper, not pixels.

“…And here’s why: There is one overriding question about the future of journalism that no one can yet answer: How will we pay for it? …Until we create some new business models in support of the journalism profession, we’ve got to support what we have.

“…I have no proof, but a strong feeling, that even journalists, especially young ones working at newspapers, don’t read the paper. That feels wrong to me — and self-defeating. So join me, even you young whipper-snappers. Read the paper. Hold it in your hand. Take it to the john. Just read it.”

Oh yeah, that piece drew a lot of criticism. It’s also generated useful discussion, in the 83 (and counting) comments to that post and elsewhere.

This may surprise my regular readers, but I don’t think Clark is entirely wrong. Part of what he’s saying is that if you’re in the media business, eating your own dog food is crucial context. I’d add that you should not just eat one flavor, but the whole damn menu.

Here’s my take: If you work for a media organization that publishes a print product, you should indeed read the print edition regularly. You should also read the online edition regularly — including the comments and forums (if any), and explore the multimedia and interactive offerings.

But don’t stop there…

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Ask, and you shall receive — with help from social media

Facebook
Discussion on the Facebook group for Tidbits readers.

This Sunday my colleague Barb Iverson and I will give a workshop called “Web Productivity and Tech Tools Workout” at the Society of Professional Journalists conference in Washington, DC.

We’ve mapped out several cool topics to cover. This is the first of a few posts that will serve as “living handouts” for that workshop.

In my work as a journalist, consultant, blogger, trainer, and speaker, I’ve often found that the smartest thing I can do is surround myself with smart and relevant people. Therefore, for me, the main concrete benefit I’ve experienced from participating in social networking sites is the ability to quickly share knowledge with a trusted network of friends and colleagues.

I currently use two popular social networking services: LinkedIn and Facebook. One very useful feature of both services is that they allow you to easily pose questions within your personal network of contacts, or to other selected groups. Yeah, you could do this by personal e-mail, but it would be a major hassle.

Here’s how this can help your work and career (especially if you’re a journalist), and the basics of how to do it…

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