Friday, August 17, 2012

On Tweeting

A few weeks back I posted “To Tweet or Not to Tweet?” It finished, “I still haven’t made up my mind, but I’m close. I guess it’s like swimming, and you have to go ahead and jump in. You could follow me @crottymark to see if and when I take the plunge.” Well, I wouldn’t describe it as an all-out plunge, but I have begun to send out some Tweets. Look to the right and you’ll note a Twitter feed and a link to become a follower. I’m starting to understand the whole appeal.
In that post I also outlined my misgivings. I’m going to insert the list, with each item following by some updated thoughts in italics.
·         I don’t want my tweets to be all about me and/or self-promotion, i.e. links to my blog posts (although those are okay provided they are not the total)

I haven’t fallen into this trap at all. In fact, I’ve mainly done promoting of other people’s work. One time I almost sent out a Tweet when a person wrote about an idea I had posted on a year or so ago, but I refrained. It just felt too self-serving and even mean-spirited.

·         People don’t need my status updates. Besides, I have enough trouble keeping up with myself.

I sort of violated this one once, but it was in the right spirit. I wrote that I had commented on someone else’s blog because I wanted to draw some attention to the fabulous piece on bicycling by Jonathan Martin.

·         I don’t want to be an overtweeter, sending out multiple ones every day.

I think my maximum has been three, and I usually do two. Sometimes none. I’ve also changed my song on this one a bit. I don’t want to send out multiple tweets a day, but some people I follow do so; and since they are good, I don’t mind.

·         I often write to figure things out, and I can see myself thinking through an essay to try to arrive at a worthwhile tweet.

I still struggle with this one a bit, but I’m coming to see a Tweet as a brief insertion into a much larger conversation.

·         The character limit intimidates me. I have to adopt Tom Peters’ idea that it increases rhetorical discipline.

This has been easier than I thought, particularly thanks to the url shortening feature in TweetDeck. I grow a bit frustrated when I would like to share quotations…and I cringe when I resort to removing letters from words.

·         The entire endeavor strikes me as potentially overwhelming.

I’m just very disciplined about how often I check. As I said a few years to someone who saw me ignoring my BlackBerry as it kept buzzing, “I control the Blackberry; it doesn’t control me.”

·         Sending out tweets just doesn’t feel like me.
Contrary to what I expected, it does feel like me. I tend to listen and think carefully, then speak briefly. I also like to just put things out there for people to consider.
            Beyond that, I’ve discovered a few other things. I’ve written a few times that thoughtful followership can be just as important as good leadership. This principle certainly holds true in the Twitter-sphere. I used to grow very frustrated with Twitter because I felt I received little useful information. But then I began to follow a few different people whose work I know and respect, and I decided to follow a few of the people they were, cutting out the ones who frustrated me. Revolutionary, right? Anyway, now I find the stream of information more refreshing and nourishing. That whole PLN idea really works, and I’m excited how Twitter is adding a new dimension to mine.
            I’ve also been reminded of how generous good people can be, as people have welcomed me, replied to Tweets, re-Tweeted. It creates a really nice vibe within the network. That, of course, again means you are linked to the right folks.
            I’ve also realized what an ego I can have. Whenever I gain a new follower, receive a mention, am re-Tweeted, I feel that tiny surge of importance and pump of self-esteem. Then after a while I head over to the blog, and if views went up afterwards…three hips and a hooray! Seriously, it does bring a degree of gratification to know that what you’re laying out there for people seems to matter.
            Any disappointments? Just one. Early on I replied to a Tweet by legendary management guru Tom Peters. Alas, no response. (And it was a great point.) Maybe it’s just as well. Imagine how my ego might have swelled then.


Jonathan Martin said...

Great post, Mark, and there is much I want to comment upon about it, but I will try to limit myself.

One main thing: You write about "your ego" and note your gratification when you get noticed. This is an important part of thought exchange and nothing to be ashamed of. Chris Anderson, in his incredibly interesting and important piece in Wired entitled Crowd Accelerated Innovation, discusses how fast ideas are developing in our networked world, and says that this powerful valuable innovation happens due three elements: crowd, light, and desire. About desire, he says:

"Active learning is hard work. And in most cases, what drives all that work, whether we will admit it or not, is the prospect of recognition for what we’ve done. Have you ever checked the viewing figures on a blog post you wrote? Watched to see if anyone would reply to a comment you posted? Gotten excited by an award or an exam result? Or felt a thrill when your boss looked you in the eye and said, “Awesome job”?

Then you know the power of recognition—we crave it. It’s a fundamental desire. Every community has its own means for granting special status to some of its members, formal or informal. For basketball, there’s the Hall of Fame. For the group of dancers on a street corner, the hot one gets the admiring looks and the best date. Our desire for recognition fuels our performance."

That "surge of importance" is very valuable fuel for your continued contributions to my learning and that of many others.

Mark Crotty said...

Hi, Jonathan. I agree completely with your comment, and I made the comment half in jest. I think particularly in the social media realm, the recognition is crucial because so much competes for our attention. It's amazingly gratifying to know that in a world where one has almost infinite choices, you're getting attention--wow! That is tangible evidence that your work--your purpose--has some meaning and import. I think in the best cases, it also drives one to want to do even more, and to do it better.

Mark Crotty said...

Sorry, I meant to write "the ego comment" in first sentence.