Twitter: Love it or Hate It?

I have a new post up at ALA TechSource:

And, I must confess: I thoroughly enjoyed participating in the ALA Annual 2008 Twitterverse that sprang up for those few days in late June. It fascinated me to see the power of such a simple and, yes, overburdened, tool. Micro-blogging has found a place amongst LIS workers and even through outages and downtime, the tweets from ALA marched on. “I credit Twitter for helping make this my best ALA yet. More connected. Too many people to see, places to be, but I read tweets,” responded Brenda Hough to my tweeted requests for “interviews” for this post. The call via Twitter and at TTW prompted many useful, hilarious and telling responses. Others helped out via comments at TTW and in personal email.

Looking at the tweets and responses, patterns emerge of how the tool was used and how people responded to it.  The functions of Twitter at a conference such as ALA include:

  • Reporting On Sessions
  • Meeting Up & Making Plans
  • Commentary & Transparency
  • Finding New Ideas
  • Simply Fun Observations & Connections
I concluded with:  I will certainly advocate for more reporting, more wry observation, playing nice and much more fun for sure.

Read the whole post for an examination of each of those functions. But, also give some attention to some other functions of Twitter: too much noise and the potential to do harm – that’s the “playing nice” part. I think for TechSource I took the happy road, because I was very “up” on how folks were using the tool at ALA. Maybe I should have included a bit about what a colleague calls “the dark side.” I would hate to see people get hurt because of snarky tweets during conference presentations or in general. I always remember something Jessamyn West blogged: Use your powers for good. I hope we use our Twitter powers for good.

Will Richardson read my mind:

Whether it’s some people getting a little snippy from time to time and then other people making a way-too-huge-a-deal about it, or whether it’s two very smart people like Gary and Sheryl blowing out a Tweet-a-minute micro debate about the state of education in this country, or whether it’s people trying to live Tweet hour-long presentations that turn into like 347 updates, I’m finding anything that hints of substance just too scattered, too disjointed to read, even with the wonders ofTweetdeck. It’s like trying to eavesdrop on the conversation of a bunch of people with really bad cell phone reception, hearing a part of one response ’til it cuts out into the other. Frustrating.

And I can’t help feeling like it’s just making all of us, myself included, lazy. We’ve lamented this before, this “fact” that the whole community is blogging less since Twitter, engaging less deeply, it seems. Reading less. Maybe it’s just me (again) or maybe it’s my long term attachment to this blogging thing and my not so major attachment to texting, but it feels like the “conversation” is evolving (or would that be devlolving) into pieces instead of wholes, that the connections and the threads are unraveling, almost literally. That while, on some level, the Twitterverse feels even more connected, in reality it’s breaking some of the connectedness.

Read his whole post here:

As a response to Will, I think a few things are happening. Lots of folks are using Twitter and talking about how they are using it (guilty here). It’s the tool du jour (or maybe FriendFeed is?). But I also see that many of us have slowed down blogging. Could be summer. Could be other newer tools. it could also be that there are hundreds if not thousands of biblioblogs out there, making the conversation broad and deep but also HUGE to try to follow.

What do you think?