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Six Twitter Questions

Last week danah boyd posted a few questions about Twitter use.  Since I answered each one in my head, I figure I’d post my answers here on the (very off) chance someone else is interested in my answers.  danah’s questions are in italics …

First, the practical question. Can i quote you?
[X] Yes, and you *must* use my real name.

1. Why do you use Twitter? What do you like/dislike about it?

I love the immediacy of Twitter.  I also like the fact that since Tweets are so small, people often write more personal things, letting you – over time – build a more holistic sense of them as a person not just as an academic (or whatever role that person has as their more careful public face, the face that is often more carefully maintained through other forms, such as blogging).

I don’t like the fact that, so often, I turn to Twitter only when I’m trying to procrastinate or distract myself from what I should “really” be doing!

2. Who do you think is reading your Tweets? Is this the audience you want? Why/why not? Tell me anything you think of relating to the audience for your Tweets.

I’ve got two discernable groups – firstly, Perth folks who Twitter and who knowingly form a sort of semi-web2.0 ensemble (the same folk you’d see at Perth Blog Meetups); secondly my academic and pseudo-academic ‘friends’ (and I use the quote marks since I’ve not physically met a number of the people I’d imagine in this category) who I share some interests with – be it digital culture, film, participatory culture or some combination thereof.  These are both the people I imagine are reading me (or have subscribed to my Tweets) and also the people I read.

3. How do you read others’ Tweets? Do you read all of them? Who do you read/not read and why? Do you know them all?

As at 2.  The only time I read new Tweets, now, is when someone I’m already reading either points to someone/something interesting or is engaged in one side of an interesting conversation and I want to hear the other half!

4. What content do you think is appropriate for a Tweet? What is inappropriate? Have you ever found yourself wanting to Tweet and then deciding against it? Why?

Inappropriate is a hard call – I’ve seen all sorts of colourful language and that seems in keeping with the immediacy and personal aspects of Twitter, but at the same time I wonder if those, aggregated, would be the sort of thing people want to be a reflection of themselves.  I guess links to porn or other potentially offensive material has to be flagged as such – the use of TinyURLs means you’re less able to predict the contents of a link by it’s URL and so the onus (I think) is on the Twitterer to make it clear what they’ve linking to.

5. Are your Tweets public? Why/why not? How do you feel about people you don’t know coming across them? What about people you do know?

Mine are at present.  I’m considering making them private as I’ve caught myself (only once so far) writing and then deleting a Tweet since it was venting about the workplace and the workplace could – at some distant point in the future – notice.  That said, I’m never really sure how private ‘private’ turns out to be.

6. What do i need to know about why Twitter is/is not working for you or your friends?

Twitter, to me, works best in tandem with other forms.  Most of the Twitterers and Twitterati I read are already bloggers, but their Tweets add a level of personality and personal depth which often isn’t visible in their blog posts (which are often more careful, especially because blogs and ‘personal profiles’ so often are synonymous in academia).

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