As twitter fever continues to spread, (apparently the only way you can get this fever is digitally so no inoculation is necessary), many of us are trying to figure out how best to use this communication tool. O’Reilly publishing has done a great job evangelizing twitter providing a book and webinars to get people thinking.
When I think about my own experience I believe it to be somewhat typical. I first started using twitter over a year and a half ago. I had no idea what it was about other than that people (geeks) were using it at conferences. I was intrigued right away by the possibility of having real time audience interaction at a conference. I signed on and did nothing for the longest time. A co-worker (who shall remain nameless here) and I followed each other even though our desks were right next to one another. And then that stopped.
The next spike in my twitter activity came when I read about real time updates via twitter regarding forest fire progress on the west coast. The penny dropped. This was the power of twitter. Not the public timeline and all of it’s inanity, but targeted, niche dialogues that informed faster than google, more powerful then local newspapers, able to leap over international boundaries in a single (140 character) tweet.
Next came following. Who to follow? Naturally I picked the same people that everyone else was picking and these generally turned out to be early adopter geeks who had social capital coming out of their modem. They never really said anything interesting but then neither did I. However, my co-worker and I were back on twitter realizing we could use it for broadcasting our good news about BookNet to the world. We created a work account and twitterfed it every 24 hours. It has become a healthy teenager in twittersphere years.
On my personal account, I discovered the need to dampen the noise from the early adopters and started pruning my follow list. I picked up some “star” tweeple but quickly dropped them—I like to keep my illusions intact when it comes to the big faces on the big screen.
My co-worker and I discussed the power of twitter being highly niche oriented and this is sort of where I am at today. The constant quest for information through who I follow has me picking up and dropping those I follow on an ongoing basis.
Lately I have been investigating the digital bookclub landscape and so naturally when @wossy announced he was starting a bookclub @atwossybookclub and the book was Men Who Stare at Goats I jumped on board along with thousands of others. Next I found the author @jonronsoon and started following him.
I looked for the book in my public library and at bookstores but to no avail. Amazon was out of stock! I checked daily lit to see if I could get the book through them: not there. I checked for an ebook on many of the e-tailing sites—Waterstones was getting one together but it wasn’t available yet.
In this digital age things can change fast! I was fascinated when @jonronsoon tweeted this morning:
Picador has provided a perfect example of what a publisher needs to do to meet the demand of this medium:
Teaming up with Exact Editions you can now subscribe to online access of the book. By going to http://www.exacteditions.com/menwhostareatgoats you will be able to read the full text, and have access to it for a year, for £4.99. This will allow you to link into specific pages when discussing the book and should make for a chatty book club atmosphere. This is the first time we have put a text up online in this way so it would be interesting to hear your thoughts.
Sadly this is only available in Ireland and the United Kingdom so I still need my dose of daily lit, but to bring it all full circle: that is the power of twitter!