Earlier this year Lynn Loudon and Hazel Hall from Edinburgh Napier University surveyed over 300 librarians and their use of micro-blogging tools such as Twitter. The full article, which is very interesting, can be found at: http://www.soc.napier.ac.uk/~hazelh/esis/Loudon_Hall_Twitter.pdf
To begin with I held “the commonly mistaken view is that Twitter simply offers a cut-down version of the Facebook status”. I had a Facebook profile and so I didn’t feel the need to Twitter, but there was one problem in the fact that my favourite cousin didn’t have a Facebook account and he only tweeted, and with a large ocean and differing time zones between us I was willing to dip into Twitter to stay in-touch. I followed a couple of other people who I knew personally, but I didn’t really see the point of Twitter and kept on trying to convince my cousin to get a Facebook account.
Then I become Twitter friends with someone who used her Twitter account in a purely professional way. Unlike me she didn’t just follow people, but she followed organisations such as HEFCE and Blackboard and JISC. Looking at the list of who she followed made me realise that Twitter would be a great way of staying up-to-date with developments in my area of work and I soon started to follow organisations and experts in my area. Since then I have never been so well-informed, and for a long time I never really tweeted but instead, “less-expert lurkers may engage in legitimate peripheral participation as they learn from the more experienced members of the online communities to which they may later contribute more fully.”
The thing I like best about Twitter is that I never feel overloaded by it, when I tried RSS feed readers I would feel overwhelmed by the amount of un-read feeds. Twitter doesn’t make me feel guilty like that, Twitter is there for me when I need it and when I have time. I would recommend that you look at someone’s past tweets before you follow them, to make sure that you follow someone whose tweets are normally useful to you.
As part of my staying up-to-date session with my PhD students I talk to them about Twitter and show them how even if they don’t know who to follow they can use #hashtags and services like Tweetdeck and show them some examples for their area of study.
With these new social networking tools, it is about trying things out and seeing how the can best work for you and it may take some time to work that out but if you don’t even try them then you’ll never know.
Post by : Lisa Anderson