Ambient Overload
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Me, Twitter?

Bart & Gabe are determined to see how far they can push the use of twitter at this year's MLA conference.  They want to use my Doe Lecture to seed some of the discussion before and during the meeting, so I just sent Bart some questions that he can use for the "Twitter Tutorial" that they're cooking up later this month.

As I understand it, they'll use the questions as the basis for generating some twitter discussion so that people can get used to re-tweeting and using hashtags and embedding stuff and whatever else it is that people do with twitter.  As someone who is pretty twitter-averse I find my participation in this to be tremendously amusing.

I have an account.  I'm following 65 people and am followed by 61.  But I almost never put anything up, other than a note when I've put up a new blog post (not that there's been much of that lately).   Since June 2008, when I signed up, I have precisely 130 tweets.

I keep an eye on it, but mostly because I find Rosanne Cash to be wonderfully hilarious.   But now, even the president of my university is trying to tweet something every day or so.

Gabe, who I actually don't follow (I probably should) and I have had a number of long talks, particularly as he's been planning for the conference, on how twitter can be used productively.  I remain agnostic about it's potential value to me, but interested.

Last year, I followed the twitter feed for the Doe Lecture from my hotel room. It didn't give me much of a sense of what Ana was actually saying, but it did give me a good feel for the emotional temperature of the room and how well-received the talk was.  (I did watch the video of it later on, which then helped to make sense of some of the tweets).

I know that what Bart & Gabe are after is real conversation -- the feel of taking half a dozen people and putting them in a bar after a good lecture and listening to them talking animatedly about it.  Can you create something like that among a much larger group of people who aren't all in the same place?

I don't know. I don't track twitter discussions enough to have examples of where I think it has really worked well.  But it's worth the experiment.  I might even pitch in.



As the Archivist at the Office of History I created a Twitter account to provide a way to connect the NIH Library and NLM with the History Office. Our office were not enthusiastic and were not familiar with it--historians and museum curators-- but I've put it up and rarely posted due to that. At NIH we are prevented from Facebook (only certain Institutes--NLM is allowed). I see some benefit if supported but as I have seen trends come and go I wonder if we have reached a critical mass of information sharing? Not sure and probably not.

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