The Added Value of Twitter is in the Little Things

Twitter - Jerry Taft
Jerry Taft, long-time Chicago TV weatherman is an avid Twitter user. Thanks to his recent tweet I got a twinge of nostalgia, imagining the news team I grew up with in the ’80s.

Twitter has not even come close to beginning to lose its edge in my world. Many of my closest friends and peers do not use this — but this was much the case with AIM and Y! Messenger in years past. Twitter (and the numerous search engines built upon its API) enable each user access to immediately strip any and all degrees of separation from one’s self and one’s interests of the moment.

When Cubs season came around, I immediately searched Cubs on Tweetscan and added about a dozen folks who were tweeting from Wrigley on opening day (Another search tool launched more recently is Summize). The majority of people I follow are in Los Angeles. I do have a habit of adding folks depending on what locale I am in — I want to hear the local noise (which I can find by searching TwitterLocal or BrightKite). There’s a Twitter wiki with an up-to-date index of all tricks and tools for enhancing the Twitter experience here.

The way Twitter works is much more dynamic than instant messaging. What Taft tweeted above — in <140 characters, an hour or so before going on air -- was only seen immediately by a handful of people (a portion of his 77 followers who happened to be following their Twitter feed at the time). However, his announcement of the Ch. 7's new team -- and the fact that it's the same team that me and my peers grew up with on Ch. 5 in the 80s -- can also be found on Google (which crawls and indexes Twitter daily) and in posts such as this one, (especially after I put the names Magers, Yu, Giangreco, and Taft in text). It may seem subtle, but Taft is promoting his newscast in a very nuanced and personalized way. There isn't such a mention of the reformation of the classic Chicago news team on the ABC7Chicago website, or elsewhere for that matter.

What’s the point of all the noise?

I find it hard to cut down on the number of people I follow (currently over 400) because each and every one of them adds value to my daily life. It may only be one in every ten tweets that does anything for me — often less, but, as with anything today, it is easy to turn on and turn off Twitter. And later, to do filtered searches. Alas, too much time on Twitter can get crazy, for example, a friend comments on a friends tweet and suddenly there’s another person you’re interested in following.

It’s not about who you know or who follows you. With Twitter, it’s about who you follow, and how you choose to use the little 140-character gems of wisdom and added value in your life.

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