I actually had Mitch in my Twitter list, but he didn’t follow me, so I took him off. I might put him back though.
Whether or not you think this is curt, whining or stupid, please hear me out. If I may use a computer analogy, this comment is like a php script accessing a huge database of information. The script is kind of pointless, unless you know what rich and wonderful data sits in the backend.
If you were Greg Schwartz, someone with whom I network fairly frequently on Twitter and elsewhere, you might understand that I was saying a whole lot of things with that one statement. These include:
- “Hey! I randomly discovered Mitch Joel on Twitter while I was playing around with the Twitter search api and looking for Twitter peeps in Halifax (Mitch was actually visiting Halifax to do a presentation).”
- I kind of used Twitter as a mini-RSS feed to see what Joel has to say about the world.
- Twitter as an RSS feed isn’t really that fun. For instance, do I really need to know what airport David Weinberger or Robert Scoble is having dinner at right now?
- A better context to use Twitter would be if Mitch and I were having some kind of conversation.
- Mitch Joel did not seem to be interested in this kind of connection with me (why would he? he has thousands of followers already!), so I thought I might as well remove him to keep my ability to access Twitter friends under control.
- “Follow me back” is as good a rule for keeping contacts organized as any.
- I might reconsider my thoughts about Mitch’s Twitter stream as a mini RSS feed given Greg’s post.
Mitch noticed this comment and it inspired him to write about his Twitter network and how he tries to manage it. I think it’s a great post. He sparks a fairly strong discussion about how to manage your own personal network on Twitter, and clearly relates how being a “Twitter snob” is important for keeping his Twitter account organized.
I thought Mitch misunderstood my remark as being upset for being “snobbed.” After a few direct messages and comments, it turns out that he was merely taking my remark as the point where he made his “Twitter snob” self-discovery, so I am the one who misunderstood. The thread continues with other comments about how snobbery can be important and how people’s perception of that snobbery is less so.
I’m still fairly loose about how I maintain my Twitter stream. I like where its at right now with about 110 folks in and around the library world and Halifax. I’d venture a guess that 10% are seldom-to-never posters. Another 5-10 percent are still in the “I’m pretending Twitter is an RSS aggregator” category.
I follow the rule of “follow me, follow you” as a way of ensuring there is a mutual connection. If someone does not follow back, I usually have to decide that I am willing to accept this person’s stream as an RSS feed-only kind of thing.
I think you could probably categorize users by the differential of follower-to-followed. Those with fewer followers than followeds are likely spam bots or newbies who haven’t discovered Google Reader yet. Those with few of both probably just want to connect with their friends. Those with lots of both are like me — looking some kind of information exchange mixed in with a little bit of banter and fun. Those with lots of followers versus followed are the Twitter snobs. They have an online presence that has a “fandome” aspect to it and they want to keep their information manageable. It all makes pretty good sense to me. I wish it made sense to everybody. I’ve heard plenty of say about the Twitter friend who got de-followed and took it personally. Hard to say how people feel about things, but I think some perspective is necessary. I think this behavior is silly when it happens at weddings and funerals — and this is a freakin’ Twitter account!
In the end, I find it pretty facinating how the differences between Twittering and blogging are beginning to show their beautiful faces. The blog enables a writer to establish context around comments, and god help you if you miss something in your explanations (like I have). Twitter’s 140 character requirement builds more banter-ish connections and I find that as I use it more, I assume alot from my readers. Inside jokes abound on Twitter and god help any non-librarians who are reading along one of my LSW exchanges. That was my mistake with the comment.
I also think Mitch makes a good point that maybe I should have sent a direct message if I wanted a mutual follow. The only problem there is that there wasn’t even an anecdotal connect. I merely wanted to follow his stream to see what he was about. Then, when I saw he was not one of a bunch who were not following back (for whatever reason), I deleted, thinking — “I can just read his blog instead.”
Mitch and I are now mutual followers. In the future maybe Mitch or I will decide that it’s not worth it. It’s all good. Who knows how connections get made? Like Robin Hood splitting the arrow at the archery competition, sometimes approaching things in a good, wrong way is more beautiful than by-the-book best-practises perfection.
So, the trick with Twitter is that you have to manage your networks somehow. If it turns out that you have to de-follow me on that track, please do not hesitate to do so. Just read my Passion Quilt Meme post. I think everyone should provide themselves the courtesy of following a path that works, whether it includes me or not. My follower list will survive without you, I promise.