Saturday, May 11, 2013
I've been a Twitter user, both on my desktop and on mobiles, for years and I have used both Twitter and a range of third party clients, some now defunct and some still operating. As some of you know, my Twitter handle is @polyxena and you can read about the significance of that in this blogpost.
Twitter is an integral part of my life - or is it? Now I am in the midst of a real dilemma about my use of it. This post is about my history of using Twitter as well as my current dilemma.
I thought I joined Twitter as part of the original 23 things that I did with Victorian public libraries in 2007. But as an historian I wanted to check that out, and I discovered that I didn't! When I looked back through this blog, I found out that I had decided when I was doing Thing #19 that Twitter wasn't for me and that I wasn't going to join up! I looked at Facebook and MySpace instead. However, after the 23 Things were completed I continued on with the Web 2.1 which Helene Blowers' library was running. And guess what? Along came Thing #35 Mini or microblogging and I relooked at Twitter and joined up then on 5 January 2008. You can read what my views on it then were here. Yes, I was pretty cynical about its value for me or for my workplace.
However, as I started to use it my views changed radically. Once I had built up a body of followers and people I followed, I realized the amazing benefit of Twitter to me in a number of areas of interest. I currently follow 1,594 others and have 748 followers. On a whole these cover a wide range of my interests though it is true to say that librarians are probably over-represented and some other areas of my interest have not yet been re-educated.
I had been a voracious user of RSS feeds and got most of my general news, public opinion and professional reading that way. But as time moved on I realized I didn't need (or wasn't using) RSS feeds for this and was only occasionally reading them. I was doing most of my professional reading through a Twitter filter and I typically started each day with an early morning coffee in bed and with Twitter where I got the latest news (normally before I heard it on the radio) and got my professional reading fix.
We had had a Twitter account (in fact more than one but that is another story) at the City of Boroondara Library Service from about the time I and a number of other staff members joined and we used it mainly to advertise events or to link to our blogposts or Facebook but also to post or RT items of interest. However, we had quite a number of staff on Twitter and one thing I found it very useful for was to put out pleas for emergency staff on the weekend when someone rang in sick! Posting on Twitter sure beat ringing around and rousing people from their weekend sleep. We also found it a great tool for communicating about system outages. Often on weekends, if systems and the VOIP connected phones were down, that was how staff communicated with me and I could set recovery into play.
Aside from the professional reading, I also built up a great personal learning network on Twitter with librarians from all over the world, but predominantly in Australia as they are in my time zone. This meant that there was always somewhere to go to float an idea, get some data, cry for help or engage in all sorts of discussions (yes even about cat photos and Cats). Twitter provided me with amazing professional support from across all the sector and provided a supportive environment to test ideas. Many of these people I have never met, though through local Tweetups (see one heading this post with @flexnib and @restructuregirl at Tulks), various serendipities, and overseas travel I have met some of these people in real life. VALA conferences in Melbourne were always a great meeting place. But the reality is that it doesn't matter if I have met these people. I have many, many friends that I have had as online friends for decades, and these Twitter friends are similar.
An astute reader of this post may have realized that there has been a bit of past tense usage. And therein lies my dilemma. Late last year I retired from my position at the City of Boroondara Library Service and not unsurprisingly I have been pursuing other interests. I realize that my Twitter life has now changed. With my early morning coffee, I am much more likely to go to Flickr first to check out on what has been going on in the rest of the world overnight, or to my email. I also find that I am using Facebook more than I did when I was working. Once Twitter (or Echofon) would have been the first thing I went to.
Does this mean that Twitter is no longer an integral part of my life? I didn't think Twitter was just about libraries for me, or my personal learning about libraries, but now I wonder. I don't know and I would be interested in getting people's comments on this. I will continue to monitor this and see how I go. Maybe I need to embark on re-educating some other areas of my interest. Surely Twitter must be important to everyone?