Blog and Twitter Worlds Collide. . . then Converge?


It all started because I Blogged where I should have Twittered. . .   Greg wrote a post called “Stepping into Marketing” talking about Mitch Joel presentation.   And I wrote this:

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.


In With the New; In With the New.

Ten more ideas about how I can make my life better, in libraries and elsewhere:

  •  Plan an unconference — somewhere, somehow.

The field needs more unconferences, and I’d like to host/organize one for local librarians this year — probably in the summer sometime.

  •  More controlled and productive computer time.

No, this has nothing to do with social software.   I just found that the end of last year turned my computer into a television/gaming system.    I have nothing against gaming or entertainment, it’s just that my kids are growing up, and I definitely want to spend more time focussed on friends, family and physical fun.

  • Two good books a month.

I want to start tracing my reading just like Jessamyn does.   It’s been a good start though.   I just finished Evelyn Waugh’s Men at Arms, which is a great book and the first of the Sword of Honor trilogy.

  • 12 Beers (or other favored beverage) for 12 Librarians

Librarians deserve a beer.   12 librarians will get a beer from me.

  • More blogging, but with more citations and reading to go with it.

One of the most satisfying posts from my point of view was my review of Margaret Somerville’s The Ethical Imagination.    I disagree with many points that the book makes, I truly felt that Somerville gets a bad rap around town undeservedly for her views on same-sex marriage.   Further, I am glad Somerville is out there with the guts to say the unpopular thing that she believes needs to be said.   True ethics may just about the opposite of being popular, in my view.

Anyway, even though my online survey (there’s going to be a results post soon!) has suggested that book reviews are not really a priority for my audience, you’ll just have to accept my indulgences here, ‘k?

  •  More fiction/poetry writing, published or not.

I used to love writing fiction and poetry.   I even won the Clare Murray Fooshee poetry prize (first place) once.    I’d like to get back to some of that.   It was a great hobby and it brings back my memories of the rec.arts.poems usenet group (which, like many usenet groups, is a mere shadow of its former glorious self).

  • Pare down the social with social.

Libraries weed books that have lost their relevance over time.   I think I need to think about the relevance of my “friends” and look at doing some serious weeding as well.   Of course, I mean “friends” as in “Facebook friends,” which, in the end, can be likened to a reference source more than it can to a “real” friend.

If you can be of use to me, information-wise, I’ll read your blog.   If I can be of use to you, read mine.   If we have some mutual co-sharing thing going on, you will make my Twitter list.   And, honestly, I’m just about finished with Facebook.

  •  Less money waste.

It’s crazy how the local coffee shop will just eat away at my wallet.   And for what?   It’s not like there is a ton of nutrition there — and it’s not like I couldn’t just drink water.   That’s all money that could go to my kids’ RESPs or some of my favorite charities.

  • No gifts please, and clutter-free-me!

Another one that is just wasteful.    Please, no gifts.   None — except maybe a book I don’t have, or a donation to a charity in my name.

I do not want anything that will end up in a landfill within a year.   I do not want to pay to store stuff that I never use.  Whenever Big Brothers, Big Sisters asks me if we have any used clothing, furniture or appliances to give them, I will say “yes.”

  •  Increase my code-fu.

It’s coming along, and I want to learn more.   At this stage, however, it’s about doing — developing skills versus learning syntax.

That’s 10 and that’s enough.   I look forward to re-visiting this list next year to see how well I did/didn’t do.

What’s on your self-improvement list?

The Year in First Lines

There is a meme going on.   I am not going to tag you.   It never works anyway.   Just do it if you want to do it.  🙂

December: Oh yeah, there’s been a hiatus.

November: So, I can generally get funding for approximately one conference per year.

 October: I’m happy to say that the Halifax Public Libraries have launched their Learning 2.0 program with quite a bit of fanfare

September: I was absolutely astonished to discover that I am #22 on the Online Education Database’s list of the top 25 bloggers.

August: Ok.. It all happened on July 25th, but René Simon Deschamps was stuck in an incubator with a bili problem for the past little while.

July: Yes, one year of the Other Librarian as of 1pm July 5th.

June: At the CLA Emerging Technologies Interest Group Pre-Conference, Mark Leggott presented something he titled “Library 2.0: Threads in the Tapestry.”

May: The big story today was the Ontario government’s banning of Facebook from staff computers.


Accident I took these pictures over the past week just up the street from my house.

March: Finally, Mark Leggott has responded and kicked the Slow Library off in the way that it should — with its originator!

February: Having invited a few people to play around with a test server and default version of Joomla, I figured I could start sharing what I know about this Content Management System (CMS) and how I think you should approach a website architecture with the knowledge that you are moving from a static website to a CMS.

January:  This is the exact way I met my wife. . .
(More or less) The only thing it needs is Michael Stephens wearing a bun.

A Month-Long Change of Theme. :)

Oh yeah, there’s been a hiatus.   Lots of real life going on these days.   But here are some interesting things:

  • I will be presenting at Computers in Libraries on the use of laptop labs in libraries.   This is exciting because fellow Library Society of the Worlders, Steve Lawson, Joshua Neff, and Rikhei Harris are going too.   And there’ll be more I’m sure, though I haven’t seen the whole schedule yet.
  • I changed the theme of my blog for a festive feel.  What do you think?
  • I’m moving my stuff into a new house this month, which is pretty exciting and sad.  I love this house, but for my kids I want to live closer to a school.