Friday, January 09, 2009

Tweeting versus Blogging

I've been pretty absent from OOTJ for a while. Some of that has been illness or family illness. And I am so grateful to Marie and other co-bloggers for soldiering on while I have just gone missing. But some of my recent absence has also been due to a time of experimenting with Twitter and Facebook and the new social media explosion that has been going on. That has been fascinating. I am not sure it will be the great way for libraries to market themselves that it may be for some lawyers and firms, but it's interesting. I have enjoyed meeting lots of new friends and hearing about things I never would have known about. Tweeting is fun, and it's easy and I feel very connected doing that and Facebook. It can also be a huge time sink. So be careful out there. It seems perfect for folks who are sitting at reference desks and circulation desks where there are spaces of time when nothing is happening and nobody is there. It seems great for multi-tasking when you are watching TV or waiting for laundry or a phone call. But it can also (like blogging) seduce you into doing lots of little things rather than getting the big tasks out of the way.

I have been at AALS and it never has been feasible for me to tweet from here while things were happening. As far as I can tell, the major hosting hotel has not made any wireless available, for one thing. (Boy, don’t get me started on that hot-button issue! I am so mad at the hotels over the way they charge for a sunk cost...) But on the other hand, I have not really been carrying anything to tweet with, either. Have twitter folks been seeing live tweets from AALS? I can see Montserrat Biederman (Lyonette Louis-Jacques) reporting in the evening on interesting programs, but I am not sure I see any tweets during a conference program.

Nevertheless, it made me think about tweets. If I had a brilliant thought about something that happened during the day, and wanted to put it out there after the fact, tweeting is probably not the most wide-access way to do it. Tweets are all about currency. When Jim Milles blogged about Twitter, here, his point was about the immediacy of it. Our fellow twitterer (Connie Crosby) was able to immediately alert a huge number of friends around the world of an accident. Tweets are not usually about reflection, and certainly are not about archiving facts. You can search tweets, but I don’t think people do it often, and aren’t doing it to look up facts.

Blogs are not really long-term artifacts, either, but compared to Twitter, they look much more archival. The posts remain there and wait to be picked up whenever the RSS feed is linked to, or the reader wanders in. On Twitter, you have to scroll back to read past tweets, and I have never before gone farther than 3 screens. I frankly didn’t know if I could go farther than 3 screens, so for empirical purposes, to prepare this blog post, I went back hours and hours, pages and pages on Twitter. What a pain. Of course it didn’t help that right when I was exploring, Twitter crashed with over-capacity. I think it may have been that football game, though tonight, Twitter is incredibly slow again. Keep in mind, though, if you are following a zillion Twitters who are lively, a few pages may count for only a few minutes of time. That really is ephemeral!

1 comment:

James Milles said...

Twitter is much more like conversation than blogging. I've learned not to worry about the ephemeral nature of Twitter posts--I don't expect every comment I make in conversation to be recorded for posterity either.