Friday, April 03, 2009

(T)wittering on...

Twitter is rapidly becoming a fairly mainstream tool. Recently, I attended a Jay Cross unconference, with a Twitter room as the back channel. Unfortunately, it seems Barack Obama had inconsiderately scheduled some kind of a 'town hall' or something for the same time, so it was a bit iffy for a while. It was interesting to see how the tweets in the room were restricted to those of attendees, but the main Twitter stream included our tweets in among everyone else's. Some people outside of the space were responding to our observations, I guess that's pretty un- as conferences go.

I have found my 'followers' have been increasingly rapidly lately, including my local radio station, my local newspaper, a range of people and publications that leave me guessing, including -rather worryingly - an organisation called Countersuicide.

Among these new followers is a young chap who calls himself Reformatme. I noticed that his tweets hinted at a South African heritage, so we started exchanging tweets regularly. I learned that he found me by running a Twitter search on 'Afrikaans', which I obviously mentioned at some point. He doesn't speak a word of the language but is hankering to learn about his heritage. Not least because he suspects that he is decscended from slaves, although his grandparents refused to discuss the subject at all.

He is at something of a nadir in his life, and I have been trying to encourage him. He has embarked on a course of study that he is not enjoying and feels doomed. This has been right in my ballpark, so it has been a pleasure to reassure him that no bridges have been burned and to make some suggestions and recommendations. In the course of our exchanges, I discovered that we live in the same town and that we know some of the same people. He is friendly with the daughter of my erstwhile squash partner. Small world.

Another interesting development is that the conversation about blog posts seems to have moved to Twitter, instead of in the comments on the blog itself. Not that my blog has ever attracted a hive of activity, but, via Twitter, I am getting reactions and responses from people of whose readership I was completely unaware.

Of course, I still hear that Harold has been out for a ski, Jeff is planning on going for a run, which is nice, too. But the number of useful links I am picking up, the breaking news I get, the opportunities to be a mentor and support... it's nothing like my initial impression or early experience of where Twitter was going to take me. I guess the user population is taking the tool where they want to go.

Which is at it should be, no?

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