Thing 7: Twitter
I wouldn’t really describe myself as an early adopter when it comes to new technologies as I like some of the creases ironed out first, but I’m usually keen to be pretty close behind. I joined Twitter at the tail end of 2008, following Barack Obama’s first Presidential election victory — he’d made extensive use of Twitter on the campaign trail and I decided that I couldn’t have an American President ahead of me on tech! It may well not have been him tweeting from the account (seems pretty likely that Donald Trump does do all his own tweets), but the principle that a Presidential candidate was using a new technology in this way was there all the same.
Twitter, to me, is a global water cooler. Twitter is a communications medium in its own right, like email and the telephone — with its own discourses and conventions. Twitter was a natural evolution from handwritten diaries and then blogs. Twitter at conferences is my notebook, my business card, my backchannel, a place for reflections, and a means of networking. Twitter is a constant presence.
For this reflection, I decided to take the opportunity to do a little housekeeping. In the desktop browser version (which gives access to more features), I went though my Settings to tidy them up a bit. There wasn’t much that surprised me there, seeing as I tend to ask for the full firehose in order of publishing appearance, but I did manage to remove all email notifications for tweet activity — there’s no need for an email as well, that’s just digital detritus — and I removed a so-called ‘quality filter’. There were also several apps that had access to my account, which I’d granted for some reason or another at the time, and which now had that access revoked.
The other thing I decided to do was some tidying up of my Lists, through adding or removing people, and deleting lists I no longer read. One of the interesting things about Twitter’s early growth was that many of its innovations came from its users rather than as company-introduced features. Examples include appending a user name with the @ symbol to indicate an open message to another user, or the use of hashtags for aggregating keywords to make conversations. Twitter used to have a very open API as well, and there were sometimes thousands of third party apps that did different things with tweets. I can’t remember any app names now, but creating a list of tweeters that tended to tweet around a particular topic was one — later introduced by Twitter themselves as a feature.
I like the random madness of the main feed and its multivariate moments, but find the Twitter Lists a great way to either focus what I’m looking for or to keep up with certain groups of people that would get lost in the main feed otherwise.
Anyway, around 11,000 tweets and counting. I guess this one will run and run.