Since my (second) foray on Twitter began on 1 May 2011, I have found it both interesting and somewhat addictive. Although I had tried about one year ago, I hadn’t really understood how it worked, which I think is very important to using any kind of new technology. My dear friend, Martin, explained how Twitter works and provided very good advice: ‘You need to have an idea for what you are going to use it’.
Can Twitter (and blogging) provide a means to ensure those news and views, that are generally excluded from traditional, mainstream media outlets, which also have a dominance or pre-eminence online because of the resources that they have to hand, can reach a broader audience outside of those who are already engaged in critical thinking and/or activism?
Will I be able to contribute to distributing and circulating critiques and ideas to an extent that has some influence upon public debate at any level: local, regional, national, international?? (Perhaps a tall order, but than one does not necessarily know exactly what may happen with new/social media?!)
With both an understanding about what I might use it for and a basic understanding of Twitter etiquette (‘Twittiquette’ [??]), I have enjoyed my experiment into understanding how it works and engaging in my idea for disseminating important news and commentary pieces, following other activists and communicators, and responding to breaking news. So, I found myself following those who are involved in progressive politics, new media advice, union organising and communications, and economic news, as well as more specifically public sector issues and higher education in Canada, UK and USA.
As part of my experiment with Twitter as a form of alternative communication and media, I also made a resolution to begin blogging, separate from my contributions to my department’s blog so that I might feel freer to express my own opinions and views on various issues that interest and concern me.
I am also interested to understand whether or not we can consider these two forms of communication, whether alternative or mainstream, as examples of journalism or alternative/citizen journalism.
At first I did not understand why some of the different people started following me on Twitter, at least not after reading some of their profiles and reading some of their tweets. Martin says that there are a lot of people that follow but are not really into whatever it is that you are tweeting about: ‘twitterspam’ he calls them!!
Nonetheless, I have found it useful in hearing about certain developments in the news and there are more tweets about union and work-related issues one can get than is ever covered in traditional news outlets – and definitely more invaluable when you can cover events as they are happening. For example, the person tweeting via RevolutionSyria provides links to just-posted YouTube videos and breaking bits of news – even when one cannot read Arabic (though many posts are done in English).
I clearly am finding twitter useful and interesting – including simple communications with people about more everyday matters, like discovering a good pint in a small pub in Dorset or direct messaging with a friend about their plans. So far, it has been a positive experience!!
My colleagues in my department will find this quite amusing, given that I have been self-labelling as a ‘techno-peasant’ for the last two decades…… I usually research and write about print media.