[Surfnetkids: 01 Feb 2009] What is Twitter?

Surfing the Net with Kids

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#1. February 1, 2009

Barbara J. Feldman
Dear Reader,

Quite a few of you wrote to me requesting more information about Twitter. Here goes. Twitter is commonly called a micro-blogging platform, because it limits all posts (called tweets) to 140 characters. Another way to look at Twitter is as broadcast text messaging. Instant Messaging (IM) is a message sent to one person. A tweet is a short message broadcast to all your followers.

As a social media phenomena, there are probably nearly as many ways to use Twitter and reasons to use Twitter as there are users. So, I am just going to give my personal take on Twitter: why I use it and why I think you should join me.

I tweet because as an online publisher I like to reach my audience through as many channels as possible. This is the same reason I am on Facebook and why I post pictures to Flickr, and videos to YouTube. As far as social media goes, I am fairly conservative. I’m not “everywhere”… I have chosen just a few communities to participate in, and Twitter is one of them.

In the last year, Twitter has seen tremendous acceptance from traditional publishers, big companies, politicians, and our government. I now see Twitter accounts being used by CNN, the White House, and The Wall Street Journal, just to name a few. Now that it’s not just a toy for early adapters, maybe it’s time for you to have a look.

Let’s start with two basic terms for new Twitter users: friends and followers. A friend is some whose tweets are sent to you (someone you read). And a follower is someone who reads your tweets (by subscribing to them). Because you choose who to follow, it is a nearly spam-free environment, because as soon as you decide you no longer what to receive tweets from someone, you can un-follow them.

If you follow me on Twitter, you will get five to ten updates a week (not a lot by many Twitter standards) and they will be a combination of personal notes as well as business notes (which for me means they are about educational Internet and updates about the sites I publish.) I occasionally will Twitter my travels, such as the European cruise I took this summer, or the ski trip I took this winter.

Here are some of my recent tweets, just to give you a flavor of them:

American Library Association announced Caldecott & Newbery children’s book awards today. See 2009 and past winners: http://stnwk.com/2/ 12:46 PM Jan 26th from twhirl

Just saw “Revolutionary Road.” Very disturbing ending. . Still have a pit in stomach. But I am glad I saw it. 7:02 PM Jan 24th from twhirl

Inauguration is Tuesday Jan 20. Here are some inauguration websites to enjoy (including an Obama coloring page!) http://twurl.nl/iotrpe 11:05 AM Jan 12th from twhirl

I am racked with guilt. I just ate a slice of cheesecake for breakfast. Yummy … but a bit indulgent. At least it contains calcium! :) 11:41 AM Jan 6th from twhirl

Now, just a bit on how to use Twitter and then I’ll refer you to more resources. First (I mean RIGHT NOW!) go to http://twitter.com and register your favorite screen name, or real name BEFORE it is gone! No one likes being called “BarbaraFeldman24839552″, so go grab your name now before it is too late.

Now, you can find some friends to follow. Of course you can follow me. Simply go to my Twitter page at http://twitter.com/barbarafeldman and click on the Follow button below my picture. If you like kids jokes, you can also follow the JokesByKids.com Twitter stream at http://twitter.com/jokesbykids

Next, make your first tweet right from the Twitter.com website in the box titled “What are you doing?” Go ahead… try it now. A descending character count will tell you how many characters you have left out of your 140 character allotment. Hit update, and your tweet is now published on the Twitter website, and it will appear in the Home Twitter stream of anyone that is following you.

Now to answer a few questions … Continue reading What is Twitter?

See ya on the Net,
Barbara J. Feldman
"Surfing the Net with Kids"
http://www.surfnetkids.com

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