Beyond Tweetstorming

It seems "tweetstorming" - using a series of tweets on Twitter to share commentary that requires more space than a single tweet can hold - has become a thing.

For those of us who have been using various web tools to publish online for many years now without any notable space constraints, it's a puzzling trend to say the least. Why would you put your thoughts in a format and on a platform that was not at all designed for longer form writing, makes it hard for others to link and respond, and risks a loss of ownership or availability of that content later on (for starters)? I've expanded on these concerns in posts like Owning our digital homes, and made light of them in my own tweets.

But we know that the most elegant and flexible practices don't always win out over ones that are popular or compelling in other ways. So I'm trying to resist the temptation to be entirely dismissive of tweetstorming, especially as I see people call out why they prefer it over blogging: they're more likely to follow up on a conversation on Twitter than they are to check back on an individual blog's comment thread, they like the immediacy and wide distribution of Twitter, they like being able to respond to single thoughts one tweet at a time, and so on.

That said, I still see tweetstorming as a disconcerting trend for the realm of publishing and discussion online. In a time where we need more clarity of thinking, constructive dialog and interactions that don't shy away from details, nuance and truth-seeking, tweetstorms seem like a move in the wrong direction.

So what to do about it?

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Dispatches from my Internet of Things

A few years ago I noticed that a couple of different tools and services I was using at the time were offering the option to tweet when I engaged with them somehow. I was interested to try it out but I didn't want to clutter up my human-authored Twitter feed with a bunch of software-authored stuff that I couldn't necessarily control the timing or content of.

So, I created the @JCHThings Twitter account, and it's been a steady stream of activity from the Internet-connected devices and tools in my life ever since.

Sometimes it shares some bad news:

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Book Review: Hatching Twitter

hatching-twitterThe cover art and subtitle of Nick Bilton's Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal are perhaps more sensational than the actual story of Twitter's creation turns out to be, but it's still a really interesting read for anyone who's curious how a company with such a dominant place in our culture came about.

Bilton takes us back to the tentatively formed relationships that brought Twitter's founders together, the failing startup idea that necessitating thinking up a new idea that would become tweeting, and the tangled web of investors, supporters, detractors and high-profile users that would redefine Twitter many times along the way.  If the account is to be believed, and Bilton seems to have done his research, there was a fair amount of drama along the way: ego and jealousy between founders of the success and limelight the others received; dealing with conflicting demands from users, media, investors and employees; inexperienced leaders finding themselves in over their heads, and so on.  I doubt these scenes would be sufficiently exciting for a Hollywood dramatization a la The Social Network, but it was actually refreshing to learn of the real and human ups and downs that were at play.

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How I'm using social media today

Crazy BusMostly for my own reference, but also to invite comments about what others are doing, I'm taking stock of how I use (and don't use) various social media tools today in my personal life.

Twitter

Twitter is probably the social media tool I post to most frequently. With close to 700 followers and 700 people I follow, I enjoy the quick and easy perusing of other people's tweets, the sharing of interesting / useful / important links, and the witty repartee that can result.  Since joining in 2008 and initially making fun of it, I've come to embrace the challenge of saying something meaningful or interesting in such a small number of words.

I've found a good mix of Twitter accounts to follow that both give me access to articles, ideas and resources I know I'll find interesting, and accounts that challenge me to think differently about the world.  I try to follow at least one link every day to a resource/site/article that I know I'll profoundly disagree with.

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Customer service FAILs (and a WIN)

A few short stories of recent FAIL and WIN experiences in customer service:

Trying to stop getting unsolicited postal mail from Comcast

I'm not a Comcast customer, haven't been for a long time, and never at my current address. I get postcards, letters and brochures from them on a regular basis - sometimes several times a week.  It's annoying and wasteful.  I searched the Comcast website and the Internet at large for a while for a web-based form to get on a "do not send me mail" list, and couldn't find one.  I called their 800 number and hung up after too many minutes on hold.  I finally sent in a generic inquiry through their online form, providing the addresses I wanted removed.

Done, right?  Nope.

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12 kinds of social networking status updates

If you're new to Facebook, Twitter or some of the other social networking spaces out there, you're probably asking yourself, "what should I expect to see when it comes to the status updates that people post in these places?" Or if you're a social networking veteran, you might still be thinking, "what's my niche online?  How do I decide what to post?"

Well, you're in luck!  I really enjoy cataloging and categorizing these kinds of things, and so I've put together this list of 12 kinds of social networking status updates.

Most every status update will fall into one of these categories:

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5 ways to use Twitter without being a Twitter user

Beautiful TreeI have a lot of friends and colleagues who are rightly skeptical of the value that Twitter brings to the world, but who are also aware that there are things "happening" there that might be of interest.  Often the perception is that they either have to break down and sign up for a Twitter account to use it full force, or that they have to miss out on those happenings altogether.  Here I offer those folks (and perhaps you) a list of five ways you can use Twitter without actually being a Twitter user:

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