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Monday, September 29, 2008

Twitter Mass Follow - Nevermind

I saw that Tony Hirst has posted a pipe that aggregates the twitter posts (tweets) from the learning professionals that Jane identified. I had said that I might want to subscribe to these folks. So, I looked through a small portion of the output of the pipe:

GeekMommy: @themantisofdoom - wild, isn't it? I've been in "online" communities since BBSing days in the early 80's. Higher % of good people here.

GeekMommy: @Merlene - I saw that you were jumping back in the deep end! Happy to be swimming around here with you! :)

problogger: @dingman having said that, there is room to improve 4 sure. Happy to take suggestions back to them. They r still in beta and improving fast

GeekMommy: Only I could somehow accidentally end up with 2 Twitter Moms profiles. A site so good I signed up twice!! :)

acarvin: ...and for next week, maybe Yom McKippur?

problogger: @dingman photrade r a step ahead of many competitors when it comes 2 SEO as many others use javascript. Their images do well I google images

GeekMommy: @gradontripp - thank you! You know I'm trying to pretend that it doesn't mean I spend too much time twittering! ;)

chrisbrogan: Can't even dent my inbox. Falling behind in life.

GeekMommy: @myklroventine - I'm afraid it just means I'm overly chatty - but thank you! :)

michellegallen: loving my new laptop table from IKEA. It's lickable.

GeekMommy: @themantisofdoom - personally, I always feel amazed at how lucky I am to have found so many amazing folks on Twitter. :)

acarvin: You just know that if Obama does any High Holidays events, the headline will be Shana Tovah Obamah. Or Obamashanah.

markpentleton: Back in hotel: checking emails and uploading pics to flickr before bed. Looking forward to home tomorrow, but now before breakfast in BCN!

RobMcNealy: @rosenz Do YOU eat bacon? LOL Yes, yummy, a rabbit wrapped in bacon.

acarvin: Wondering if anyone named Cohen has ever changed it to Koan just for Zen coolness.

gminks: @BrettPohlman Yeah it gets very very cold for real. You get to wear cool clothes though. I think the worst thing is the darkness.

GeekMommy: @Merlene - it will go faster than you ever imagined. It has for me. The past year has been a whirlwind! :) An aqua-blue Twitter whirlwind...

gminks: wow I always use twhirl, but my updates say "from the web"

gminks: another for my "don't do this" category: don't make an out-of-print book required, and then tell us the author is your college mentor. gah.

joedale: New Tumbleblog post: “ Bilton Grange French: Les aventures de Florian & Maja. I- Je m..

joedale: New Tumbleblog post: “ Nos Projets 4: Des messages d’accueil pour un répondeur/boîte ..

rgalloway: Wow, heard really exciting ideas today, got only about 25% of planned work done though.

GeekMommy: What to say for 20,000th Tweet? Simply this: thank you for sharing your Twitter with me. It's been a great ride so far. Really. Thank you!!!

gminks: @BrettPohlman me too! Was supposed to go back 4 the mullet festival but it didn't work out this year. Seen a Boston winter yet?

LisaMLane: tiring of the cck08 squabbling

Well, never mind. I don't think I need to a way to subscribe.

Or maybe I'm missing something. Do you see value in any of this banter? I guess the very last comment from Lisa about cck08 is at least somewhat interesting.


Lee Kraus said...

I think it is the filtering and structuring that is interesting. If you could filter it by keyword, geography, or some other association much like decision 08 on the twitter site. It would be interesting. We need better tools to group, mix, and match. Sometimes it is more about the author, sometimes it is less about the other. We need a better way to manage it.

Anonyrock said...

Pretty high noise to signal ratio. I just started twittering last week and have been very happy with following select number of people I know/trust.

Most good sources provide links to something- I would bail if it looked like this example.

Chris Brogan said...

Twitter doesn't work that way. It's not built to be a primary pipe of clear information. It's a conversation channel that also has useful information. A different way to search twitter that might have more signal is to use Twitter Search. , and plug in a string of useful keywords.

People use Twitter similarly to how they use a phone. Not every call is a teleseminar. Sometimes it's bitching and moaning. Other times, it's a conversation back and forth.

And sometimes, it's useful.

Sampling the stream would be the least effective way to grok the output value of Twitter.

Anonymous said...

Thanks @Chris Brogan. I'm glad you shared your thoughts because as you said "Sampling the stream would be the least effective way to grok the output value of Twitter."

If you had watched my twitter stream yesterday you would have only heard me talking about going to the Royal Perth Show with my son. And would assumed that following me offered nothing.

Yet those that interact with me on twitter realise how much support and assistance I provide people.

For me the conversation aspects is the most important part of Blogging and twitter; its the interactions where you are most likely to gain the greatest learning.

However twitter it is way more conversational than normal blogging and you do tend to share a higher portion of personal aspects of your life. This creates a more personal connection with your personal learning community than you could ever achieve with just blogging.

Another interesting fact about 'the list' is there quite a few of the 'list' who aren't really into twitter or if they use twitter only follow a really small number of people. Is that really helpful?

Anonymous said...

How much editing was done to the stream above? This sampling doesn't have a lot of context.

Lee's query about filtering by keyword (and chris' answer about search and subscribe) is a great starter step (tho you'll still get noise).

I'm not suggesting you subscribe to the mass - though it is a quality list. Their signal outweighs the 'chit-chat' by quite a bit.

Tony Karrer said...

The stream was not edited at all. But it is a random sampling of the most recent tweets at that time.

Good point that many of the people in the list (like myself) use Twitter sparingly and then not as much as conversation.

Sue - based on what you showed me, I understand the value you can get from twitter.

I think the advice of staying with a small group of closer connections for more on-going conversation is right.

So, then what good does a mass list of people do for you?

V Yonkers said...

To me, this is like being in the hallways or your cubicle in the middle of the floor, listening to the many informal (and sometimes more important) information.

I think it depends on the person how useful this would be. If you are the type that can monitor what is going on around you, pick up bits of information, and not be detracted when you need to focus, then this would be useful.

However, I think most people prefer their own office because all of the little conversations that go on around you can become so loud that you can't get your work done or concentrate on one thing or another. So these people would limit the people they follow or find another way (e.g. like the secretary that knows everything that's going on, will filter it for you, and give you just what you need) such as filters.

Lovekandinsky said...

Tony, I'm like you with Twitter. What I've been trying to do is whittle my list of people I'm following to a more manageable group of people who tend to provide value on a fairly consistent basis. I would never subscribe to that whole stream--way too much noise, I think.

That said, I don't Twitter that often--it tends to go in spurts where I'm on Twitter for a few days, and then I'm off for awhile. I also have to follow from the web where it's more manageable to me. I tried Twhirl and it just fed into my ADD tendencies to have this constant stream of tweets in my vision. I have a hard enough time with my RSS feeds.

subquark said...

I think your example is what Twitter is all about. Following people, but . . . as CommonCraft points out very well, it is for following friends. Such as "heading to bookstore to listen to Jolene Smith on her new book".

Most follow too many to be of much value(I plead guilty).

I do think one brilliant use is for conferences by setting up a private Twitter group for attendees (like with Group Tweet).

"D DevLearn08 talking about Second Life in the cafe at lunch time"

Wendy said...

Glad it's not just me.
I'm probably going to go back on Twitter for DevLearn 08 - more to see if there is anything interesting going on.

What's puzzled me is that I have people "following" me on Twitter and I can't figure out what they are actually following. I think I've posted once in the past 6 months.

Anonymous said...

@Tony You would think the less people you follow the better it would be. However the reality is exactly opposite. While following less makes it easier to maintain conversations and cope; there is less diversity and more likelihood of group think.

Off course to follow a large number of people requires skills and techniques to cope. Definitely not the way to start with :).

A mass list of people does nothing for me. I'm already following a large number of people and made the decision months ago that I would add people if they added me provided they had similar interests.

I also made the decision that I would not follow a person who doesn't follow me regardless of well known they are. While some of my followers explain their reasoning for why they will that just doesn't interest me. If it is important someone else will twitter it or write it in a blog post.

I also apply twitter karma and remove people who unfollow me. PS don't blame anyone from unfollowing me :) . Plus totally amazed as why anyone would follow me and have @all replies switched on -- they must get a bad headache from me :)

Today I did debate my dislike of 'the list' with one of my followers who pointed out "through the few you can reach the many - they are just nodes, for example I've found peeps through you".

Instead of a list any of us with a high following can easily ask our networks to add a person to their account -- at least you know the people who add you want to have conversations :)

@Michele I use an old version of Snitter that slowly loads the tweets onto the screen. I find Twhirl makes it really hard for me.

Tony Karrer said...

I'm glad to see these comments. Mostly align with how I've felt. I also may just not be a good person at holding these kinds of conversations. People who know me know that I'm not good at staying in touch with folks who I really like and would have a great time going for beers when we get together. But when I don't see them, I don't communicate much (at all). Twitter theoretically handles that, but I still haven't quite got there myself.

Great point about using twitter for particular conversations - like those around conferences where the conference doesn't have another mechanism for conversation.

I'm sure DevLearn will have a twitter tag.

GeekMommy said...

Yikes. Based on that sampling, I wouldn't interact with me on Twitter either.

But as Chris said, "Sampling the stream would be the least effective way to grok the output value of Twitter."

That sort of reminded me of the audio equivalent of having 6 television channels on at once - serious noise.

The thing is? That's not really the advantage of twitter.

Over the past year, I've gone from using it as sort of a lame-duck replacement for emails and blogs to track people whom I never actually manage to talk to on the phone to using it in a very different manner.

If you're looking for specific types of information - you would probably use a search engine. In the case of twitter - summize or keyword or hashtag searches will get you that. Looking at a random stream is more like wandering around a bar full of people who have similar interests and eavesdropping to see if any of them are talking about something you want to hear.

There are as many different ways to "use" twitter as you can think of - but there's no "right" or "wrong" way - just more successful ways for using it to your own benefit.

I would never just "mass follow" a bunch of people hoping to get useful information out of them. Twitter builds connections. From those connections, you get links to articles and blogs that are useful, you get a knowledge base that is amazing (ask a question sometime - it's like crowdsourcing a problem), you get connections to people that will point you in new directions.
Occasionally, you'll find yourself knee-deep in a multi-person twitter conversation about a subject you are passionate about.

It's only a high noise to signal ratio if you aren't somehow connected to the users you follow.

The beauty of it is that you control the noise. If someone like me is too chatty for you? Simply don't follow. If I'm following you or have something relevant to say, I'll either @ you with it (you'll see in replies tab) or someone else you follow will probably retweet it.

Either way... it's a powerful tool if you learn how to use it to best suit your own needs.

Anonymous said...

Tony: People who know me know that I'm not good at staying in touch with folks who I really like and would have a great time going for beers when we get together. But when I don't see them, I don't communicate much (at all).

That's a good statement -- maybe even more helpful to people who don't know you that well. (It also shows the value of face-to-face connection.)

The signal/noise ratio is like value, I think: it's in the mind of the receiver. I was an active member of a training listserv for more than ten years. At best it was 10% signal, and that was okay with me. I made new contacts, picked up potential sources of in-depth knowledge where I lacked it, and sometimes enjoyed the randomness.

After a while, though, I found that the amount I saved from digests (copied to a text file) and the amount I contributed, had dropped to just about zero.

To me it'd be nuts to follow a list of 100. To others, maybe not. And I don't have much interest in being one of several hundred followers -- I keep hearing Henry VIII saying, "The crowd follows me because the crowd follows anything that moves."

But they're not asking my permission.

Sarah Stewart said...

OK. So a lot of the tweets I receive are social ones, but they give a context to people that I may not receive via their blogs & emails. EG. I read Sue Water's blogs and know she's into e-learning etc. But by following her on Twitter I know her son has broken his arm, her mother nags her and she's going to the Perth A&P show. Whilst that has no 'learning' value, it gives her a human face which makes it easier for me to relate to her & communicate with her when I do want to 'learn' from her.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. Now if one of my male followers had written the comment Sarah wrote they probably would have missed out the nagging mother and added poor Sue's husband. I feel sorry for him. And those that follow me would know exactly what I'm talking about.

Lee Kolbert said...

@Chris Brogan
I couldn't agree with you more. Well, maybe but you'd have to say something else. :)

I use Twitter for both (what you would probably call) mundane nonsense and for professional growth. I enjoy getting to know my Twitter friends not only professionally but also on a more personal level.

Why would anyone follow me just because I'm on that list? Would you let someone else order for you in a restaurant?

Tony Karrer said...

Lee - you say that, but a lot of people have started following me just because I was on the list.

That would seem to contradict a lot of the advice here.

In fact, it makes you wonder why the list is popular.

Michelle Gallen said...

The twitter feeds I follow are a glorious mix of e-learning, geek talk and silliness. I love learning this way - be it about socialgo or about the latest gig in Belfast. Unfortunately for anyone who is interested in my e-learning head, my michelle.gallen twitter feed is intended to publish to my personal blog. I'm setting an e-learning twitter feed to publish to my blog in the future. But I have to say, that won't be half as interesting as my personal twitter. (BTW the new laptop table got less lickable as the day wore on).

Rob Robertson said...

As to why the list is popular...I think it gives people a starting point. It takes a while to "get" twitter (well it took me a while). A list like this is a nice starter but I can not imagine it was ever meant as a list of everyone you "should" follow but a list of who in elearning you could follow.

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Anonymous said...

So embarrassed some of my mindless tweets are in that sample. Although, one of the tweets made it to my "Don't do this" category in my blog (what you shouldn't do in an eLearning class), 3 were part of dialog between myself and a fellow Southerner (from my neck of the woods no less!!) I "met" on Twitter because we are both headed to the Boston Social Media breakfast tomorrow.
Twitter is more like the conversations you would have in the lunch room, or during the breaks in a class or a conference. I've connected to many people because of Twitter, but you can't see the strength of the connections because they happen in email or over blog posts.
A better snapshot of twitter would be to watch the tweets tonight during the debate.

Tony Karrer said...

Gina - the intent is not to single out any tweets in particular. Like everyone has said, picking up and listening to a conversation in the middle is likely just to sound like noise.

Also, I probably should have taken out any tweets that were to a particular person rather than to everyone.

Still a lot of noise to get through.

Anonymous said...

Maybe I am ok with it because I'm the oldest of 7 kids. So I grew up with lots of noise, and I know how to pay attention and when to ignore it. The tweets do look pretty funny out of context. :)