Twitter the night away

Everybody always asks me what the point of twitter is, and I rarely have the ability to support its existence. So, I decided to look into it a little more…

For those unaware, twitter is a service/application commonly used for micro-blogging. How does this differ from blog-blogging? Well, like the name suggests, it’s shorter. Rather than long-winded entries (like this one), twitter users give short messages (limited to 140 characters) about what they are doing, thinking, observing, or anything else they’d like to share. These are called “tweets”.

Tell the world what you're doing!

Tell the world what you are doing!

So far, so good? Okay. Tweets can be sent to twitter from your cell phone, PDA, or non-mobile computing device in a variety of different ways. Each “tweeter” (n. one who tweets) can “follow” other tweeters, building a complex network of tweeters tweeting on twitter. Other tweeters may be your friends, politicians, celebrities, random folk, or a group of some sort (hint, hint). Tweets can be directed to an individual or the entire twitterdom. If one so wishes to follow you, they can view your tweets from http://twitter.com, or they can receive your updates as a text message on their cell phone (an opt-in service, so it’s only there if you want it to be).

A list of tweets from my fellow tweeters

A list of tweets from my fellow tweeters

So what can twitter offer to the library world?
Lots of libraries, universities, and corporations are already using twitter to market their services. UIUC’s Undergraduate Library operates under the name “askundergrad“, providing information about campus and library events, services, and resources. In fact, Towson University has a twitter profile and so does The Towerlight. Your tweets can also be connected to your website as I’ve done with my tweets. Twitter is just one more way to broadcast the library’s message to the world.

But…

I think there’s more that it can be used for:

  • reference services – tweeters could ask and librarians could tweet back
  • helpful library status tweets like, “The 3rd floor is packed; try the first floor if you are looking for a computer”
  • promote new materials in your liaison area; then tweet them with your faculty and students
  • promote your new blog posts on twitter using an intermediary service like twitterfeed
  • quickly post messages detailing your whereabouts on your website (use with caution – sometimes being invisible is a good thing)
  • create a twitter account for a class you’re working with, and have them contribute comments about their research experiences
  • use that same account during your library instruction session to get feedback on how things are going (assessment, anyone?)
  • the next time you’re at a conference, see if there’s a twitter account for the conference, and share your experience with other attendees
  • do some x-treme tweeting like Jeff Scott at City of Casa Grande Public Library

Twitter is a pretty simple application; the real power is when you connect it with other tools, applications, and services. Also, take a look at EduCause’s “7 Things You Should Know About Twitter“.

Maybe it’s time for Albert S. Cook to start tweeting…

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