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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Twitter you not

I finally succumbed last night and signed up to Twitter. It is not something I planned to do nor am I really convinced as to its value but I had my laptop with me and was browsing the web rather than watch 'Notting Hill' for about the fifth time.

In fact, I blame Bethan Jenkins. I was sitting next to her at the e-government conference on Friday and noted that she was twittering away. So I was on the Twitter site in the first place out of curiosity to see what she had been saying.

When I started blogging I did so because I could see its value as a means of getting across a point of view, interacting with people and also a means of promoting a campaign and keeping a record of key issues for non-internet campaigning. That is why there is a thread running through my blog on data protection for example and also on civil liberties issues. I cannot see the same value in twitter but I will give it a go and see what happens.

Matt Withers has some of the same issues in this morning's Wales on Sunday. He records some of the more mundane comments from politicians on Twitter recently:

It's good to see so many of our elected representatives getting involved on Twitter, which is, depending on how you look at it, either the latest Internet phenomenon or an AOL chatroom from 1995.

Thanks to this constantly-updated bible of people’s statuses, we know that in the last week Neath Port Talbot council leader Derek Vaughan “just had excellent meeting with my cabinet”.

Fellow Labour European candidate Lisa Stephens, thrillingly, was “on the train to London”, while Caerphilly AM Jeff Cuthbert was “off to the Labour group meeting” and leadership wannabe Huw Lewis was “getting ready for a day of meetings in the Assembly”.

Deputy regeneration minister Leighton Andrews, on the other hand, was – wait for it – “working in the Bay”.

It’s the future and we like it!

It is inevitable really that twitterers will lapse into that sort of record of their life simply because that is the nature of the beast. Still, if you cannot beat them....
There's a great deal of hyperbole surrounding twitter, just as there was around blogging a few years back. There's alsoa big pile of journalistic scorn, some of it in reaction to the hyperbole.

I signed up to Twitter for the same reason I signed up to Facebook, I wanted to try it and see what the fuss was about (sign my friends are uber geeky, this was about a year ago and I was very late to the party).

It's useful as a method of updating my status and doing mini blog posts if I'm away from a PC, free SMSs assist with that. It's also good when there's an event on that people are interested in—watching Question Time I can use the hashtag to find others talking about it, at Harrogate I was following conference based Tweets from people I'd never heard of (but ended up meeting while there), etc.

As with all online media, you get out of it what you put into it, and there is no right way to do it, it's a tool, and I find it a useful one, if only to update my Facebook status easily.
Matt, feel free to e-mail at peter.black@wales.gov.uk to explain what a hashtag is and how you use it to update Facebook status. Thanks
Mat's good. You won't go far wrong if you take his advice Peter!
Psst! Peter!

Twittering isn't the same as facebook status's, so you don't need to start every update with "is".

Every sentence isn't started with "Peter Black" by default, so "is" isn't the natural follow on.

Just a tip! :)
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