Romans

Or if you prefer What’s tweeting ever done for me?

I’ve been thinking in recent days after such announcements about studies as the one from JISC and conversations with the unconverted at work about twitter. It’s been a service that I was more than a little skeptical about when first introduced to it, but as I started to explore it, well then new vistas of communications were opened to me.

Even now it’s gone mainstream these days, which I know is something that annoys some of the older twitterati (all the #games and the like that go on seemingly 24/7) it’s still holding it’s own.

But why do I love tweeting? What use has it? Why do I advocate it? In short – what has tweeting ever done for me? Well here’s a few things:

It’s gotten me involved in a broad network of like minded innovators and social communications within my institution. Something that I doubt I would be as involved with as I am without it.

It’s allowed me to talk build real social links with fellow professionals, many of whom I’ve never met. But if I was to be in a room with, would be able to hit the floor running with from the get go – since we have so much common ground.

It’s seen me assisting in teaching at very short notice following on from late night discussions. Not a burden, not a chore, not in response to desperate pleas but in collaboration with fellow academics.

It’s seen me garner (I would argue) professional respect and admiration from other people across my institution, who would after such a short time of knowing me probably be unaware of my various aptitudes.

It provides a source of help, advice and real support – not just practical but on an emotive level as well.  Sure I’ve formal channels of support I can go through, but they can take time, lots of time.  A tweet for help, advice or a tweek I need to know normally yields three or four responses in a matter of minutes – 24/7.  Try getting this support without paying for it elsewhere if you can!

It’s helped me build a personal brand (as they say in social networking circles).  People know me, not just the 50 word conference or work bio, but the real me.  They’ve got an idea of what drives me, what interests me, what frustrates me; in short who I am as a professional.

It’s helped me rekindle and maintain professional friendships from previous employ, that otherwise would have been reduced to the occasional email.  As it is I’ve been able to have a fantastic continued dialogue about work, life and most importantly tea.

It’s given me a route to a genuine network of contacts.  In moments I can reach experts on open access, practitioners in education, students, academics, the old and the young alike.  And that’s just in my direct followers, once you factor in the power of the hash tag (#tag) the reach is truly the global twitter community.

It’s given me a route to market my services, myself, my outputs as a creator, to promote new discoveries and the like.  And it’s become the de facto way I share links of new resources or new items with people from whom I’d be interested to hear their opinion.  Not everyone mind you, but if I need to have more people know and input on a subject – well that’s when I blog it, and tweet the results.

It’s broken me out of my comfort zone.  Communication is never dull, but split up and isolated in our office pods it is all too easy to look inwards to our coworkers or our peers in the community.  Biologist to Biologist.  Librarian to Librarian.  Student to Student.  Twitters allowed me to bridge the gulfs that lie between us and reach beyond into the richest, most dynamic and active professional community I have ever experienced.  Contrast that with the occasional flashes of discussion on most blogs, Facebook or discussion lists and twitter stands head and shoulders above them all.

It’s allowed me to develop a bid for funding.  In public.  With others, not directly involved providing insight and experience.  All for free again.

It’s provided a back channel for discussions during a conference, and even allowed me to (vocally) participate in the discussions at a conference I wasn’t attending.  All in real time, not after the fact.  It’s a level of tele-presence through a simple web interface without the need for such clunky software as Second Life.  Function before form is surely once of the underlying successes of twitter.

It’s alerted me to news and developments in my field rapidly.  These days by the time I see an email about a new publication, or event in the library or HEI world – chances are I was aware by tweet a week or more ago (if not longer).  And thanks to re-tweeting people keep the stories going in the twitterverse for some time too.  Personally I love being the one to break a big story on twitter (even if it generally is among my 400 or so followers!).

And finally it’s allowed me to have fun, in a professional and personal way. 

I could go on, but I won’t.  Suffice to say in answer to the question what has twitter ever done for me?  A hell of a lot.

Not to say it hasn’t a downside – I have more than one (non-tweeter it must be said) person grumble or respond to a tweet off line; so there are risks too.  Perhaps a topic for another posting – what risks has tweeting opened me up to?

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8 thoughts on “Romans

    1. Cheers Steph! As I said I was very skeptical. But I think by now I’m a total convert. Then again, I do try and talk to real people as often as possible…

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    1. Cheers Anne Marie, first time in a long while I’ve been called eloquent 🙂 Verbose on the other hand… But as you can see, I really think twitter’s a powerful tool in HEI, and I’ve really only touched on how it’s been used as a professional development and comms tool. I’ve ideas about how I could be using it in a classroom and support situation too – but tried focussing today on just how I have (not will) used it.

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        1. Indeed – as with a lot of Web 2.0 things, exploring what it does for you is a great way to start thinking about how it might be exploited for further advantage! Or might not too 🙂

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  1. really top class post, Gareth. I particularly like your description of developing your identity online, this is something I haven’t thought about through Twitter, but it is a great way to express how we begin to define our areas of expertise (and ignorance) to others.

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    1. Thanks Jo – high praise indeed. I have to say that I really feel that through the medium of twitter people have come to know me the person/the professional more rapidly and effectively than any other way before (save for being trapped in a room with me in the flesh that is!).

      And from skeptic to convert to evangalist for twitter. It’s been quite a journey!

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