Tag Archives: twitter

10 Twitter Tips to Get You Started

Here’s a few things I’ve noticed after talking with some people who are confused by or hate on twitter, as well as some mistakes I’ve seen made by new people who follow me.  These are written to be understood by my mom, a budding technology user who has never been on twitter before in her life.  That means that even if you still type with hunt and peck, or don’t know how to set your facebook privacy settings, you’ll still be able to create an account and use twitter.  Not that my mom should do that.  Oh no…

  1. If you’re terrified of it or don’t understand it, don’t worry.  It’s like facebook status updates but without all the farmville junk getting in the way.  Well really, facebook stole twitter’s format because it’s so popular, but ya know.
  2. Don’t worry too much about your username–you can change it later!  Try not to make it too long or people won’t retweet you.
  3. Fill out some of the profile information and make a bio.  It doesn’t have to be great and you can change it later.  But people with similar interests are more likely to follow you if you look less spammy and show these interests right away (when they get an email saying you follow them, it will show your username, picture and bio.  So you should have all three.)  Continue reading 10 Twitter Tips to Get You Started

Newspapers: Reporting Their Own Death

I wrote this post a while ago and was too annoyed/lazy to put in the appropriate links and post it, but given the hullaballoo of the past two weeks, I thought it would be an appropriate time. 

If print media want to survive, they need to stop running stories about the decline of print media and evolve already.  Yes, I love the beauty of it too, but it seems the only newspaper story I ever read anymore is a countdown to when I won’t be able to read newspaper stories anymore. 

  • Make it personal.
    Newspapers started printing those little black and white photos that transfer onto silly putty in order to seem more personal.  Well, bring that to the next step.  Photo diaries, flickr accounts, pictures on blogs, podcasts and vlogs are all great ways to get the reader to care who you are. 
  • Show us your face
    In television reporting, a lot of success comes from the personality of the reporter.  Many will follow reporters from one outlet to another.  Blogs beat print journalism hands down for Miss Congeniality.  It’s the interaction that really helps.  I like that Anderson Cooper follows me back, and that Miss Conduct responds to the comments on her blog
  • Get online!
    The Economist and Financial Times have been doing this for years.  Granted, its easier for them to get you to pay a premium for their content, because their reputation is that they actually write premium content.  So have something more useful and/or prestigious to say, newspapers, and start charging!  The genius of FT is that their subscription that includes internet and print is only a few dollars more per week, thereby causing thrifty Americans to keep the printed numbers up even if they initially wanted nothing to do with the paper copy.
  • Stop whining about blogs!
    I know, I know, journalists think blogs and “the blogosphere” (almost no one uses that word in conversation, ps) are like the Wild West of media.  It’s a no-holds-barred orgy of unchecked facts.  This is crap.  The reputable news blogs cite links and other sources, and many have editors.  Those blogs run by the media who have already jumped on the bandwagon are subject to the same.  Even if it were not crap, we’re still sick of hearing about it and they’re still beating you, so do something about it instead of complaining
  • Outsource!
    CNN calls this the iReport.  Everyone has a blackberry or cell phone with a camera, and it seems everyone has a blog.  So take advantage of these masses!  Personally, it makes me a little nauseated to think that we’re saving them money by doing their work for them, but it certainly gets people invested. 
  • If you want us to be invested in you, get invested in us
    Don’t just set up a “twitter feed,” (a phrase you say with such affectation we know there’s no way anyone over 25 is writing it for you.)  Learn about the technology that’s surpassing you, and become a real part of it.  It can be a useful tool, if you think of it as such, rather than as a chore that must be performed to pacify a few key demographics


I realize that I’m making a lot of comparisons to television news, and that’s not an accident.  They’re doing a lot of this right–twitter, blogs for individual shows and reporters, incorporating citizen reporting, and great interaction.  Of course, they enter our homes in a much more real way, which gives them the leg up.  That is why reporters need to be more than just a byline, and they have more to overcome than journalists in other media.  Really, we can get our news from anywhere.  But we choose where based on who is presenting it: are they smart? personable? balanced?  A friendly journalist will retain more readers than a smarter, less open one.  We don’t just want the news; we want you to share it with us. 

Addendum: I was reading the blurb in the Metro the other day (do they even write things longer than blurbs?) about how to possibly save the industry.  A phrase they used often really bothered me, and I think shows a lot of what’s wrong with the industry.  The writer continually emphasized the need for “a free and independent press,” as the reason the government should step waaaay in to basically save his job.  I would argue that we have a vibrant, free, independent press, comprised of many different institutions.  They’re just not all in print and they’re probably not going to hire him. 

Ariana Huffington summed it up well at the hearing:

The future of quality journalism is not dependent on the future of newspapers”

So there.

Blogging is, like, hard

Tumblr was first described to me by what I can only assume was a very vapid and intoxicated young woman as, “like, blogging that’s like easier.  So like everyone can do it.”

Um, yeah. 

Pardon me, internet-using public, but I thought the whole point of blogging was that it is easier than say, writing a book or landing a column in print.  Blogging is for everyone.  Sure, I assume those who write good ones and those who write more regularly have a harder time.  But it’s not like there are rules and standards for Joe Schmoe blogs.  Post however much or little you want, or be like most of America and start a blog to which you will post nothing. 

Is this where we’re at, internet?  Making shorthand for our shorthand?

I may sound like the internet equivalent of a print journalist, griping about how the moronic masses will steal from a legitimate art, but come on.  There’s twitter if you feel the need to micro-blog, or facebook if you feel the need to do that but be incapable of understanding what you’re doing, and have it not work as well. 

Tumblr is essentially a home for brain farts, as Mr. Carroll used to call them.  It’s a home for your ADD.  Ahh i like this song.  and this picture.  and complaining for two seconds.  But I don’t really like words.  Done and done, you are a tumblr master. 

Chances are, if we’re friends, you already send me the random links that float through your brain.  And if we’re not, I don’t really need to see them in uber-truncated form. 

So do the internet a favor, and if you have something to say, say it.  If you don’t, please stick to the already wildly popular forms of expression the internet has afforded you: twitter, facebook and im.

I Hate Twitter

At least, that’s what all my friends say whenever it comes up. Like Hillary Clinton, it’s a polarizing issue: love it or hate it. But more like every other hot thing on the internet, or trend in general, people hate it until they become a part of it. Then they love it until it fades to make way for the next thing. People get very indignant when told this. Are we really pretending that we don’t all do this? After getting indignant (which came after talking about how useless twitter is) they usually all sign up. Well done.

Twitter has been around for about three and a half years now (gasp!) but only really came into public focus withing the last year, when The Adults started noticing. My general rule is that once a trend involving youth or technology makes the six o’clock news, it’s cooked. If you joined before, more power to you, but eventually everyone who was around for a while before that gets sick of hearing Katie Couric and the weather guy awkwardly try to connect with their viewers. People who aren’t really into it sound uncomfortable and awkward when they say they have to check their “facebook page,” or read some…tweets. Most news anchors sound hesitant and a little impressed with themselves for reading the lingo off the teleprompter.

But back to real people. Most people who don’t like twitter will eventually admit that they simply don’t understand it. Too many people use twitter simply to discuss…twitter. And I’ll admit, I will absolutely link this. But if the only thing you use a medium for is to explore the medium itself, what is the point?

Twitter means different things to different people, and can be a great tool once you decide what it will be for you. While in Egypt, I got to see the best of twitter. I talked to David Ferriss (no relation to @tferriss) who is writing and researching blogging in Egypt. For Egyptian youth, twitter, facebook and blogs aren’t about funny pictures of cats in coffee mugs, or talking about a stupid trip to a foreign country. Obviously that happens too, but so many more people are using these media to get out their agenda and mobilize like-minded masses.

When organizing rallies and protests, twitter is used to change the time or location at the drop of a hat. Updates are disseminated quickly and in a cost-effective manner. Facebook is a great forum for ideas and a way to connect with others. Blogs have become like the pamphlets of the 16th and 17th centuries, but with no additional overhead and far easier to access. The Muslim Brotherhood operates on blogs, as do local students trying to improve the interaction between their government and its disenfranchised people.

So maybe you hate twitter because you simply don’t care that i’m having a bad day, got stuck in traffic or have some youtube links to share. But maybe twitter is useless and stupid because you’re not using it correctly–none of us are.

(disclaimer–sorry, there was no good place to put this–the links should be better, but i cant find any of my English language links for the MB right now, as well as the actual blogs of kids involved in the April 6 protests. instead i can only find western coverage of it by people who don’t understand the technology that was inherent in its success. Big fail for me, considering the various intentions of this post. also, my lack of linkage for David Ferriss sucks. apologies.)

Originally posted Sunday, June 28, 2009 at 1:39 PM