It is just over one year since I re-started using my twitter account (I had made a partial, halting effort more than one year previous to that in late 2009, I believe), and exactly one year to the day since I drafted and ‘published’ my first blog post.
It has been a rather eventful year, with the Occupy movements spreading out from Wall Street across the USA throughout the world, the ongoing attacks on public sector workers and their unions,as in Wisconsin, Canada and Greece, and the reaction of students, from California to Chile to Québec to France and beyond.
I have found that blogging provides an opportunity to comment on events and not worry about whether or not the letters-page editor on a newspaper or community-content manager of a website will okay your thoughts for posting, and twitter comes in handy as a means to try and reach out to others with your comments.
For example, when I blogged about Brigette de Pape’s example of free speech in the House of Commons last year, I got 131 views in one 24-hour period (considering that I had only two subscribers to my blog and about 36 followers on twitter), plus scores for a few days afterwards, it provided an insight into the ways in which twitter can help to ‘push’ potential readers to your blog, when it otherwise might just float through cyberspace un-noticed.
It also gained one posted response from someone who is a supporter of the Conservatives, but who clearly did not read what I had posted. Not unusual, I suppose. However, it is just when you try and have a debate or discussion or argument with someone of very different political views and they do not ‘hear’ what you say. Both sides need to hear what the other says before responding.
As people started following me on twitter for one reason or another, I felt as if I had an ‘obligation’ to carry on tweeting and re-tweeting on those subjects. It is hard when you have a wide range of interests, which those who are following you on twitter might not have.
I have found that re-tweeting others’ messages or comments has been an interesting experiment. I realised that, after I had re-tweeted some tweets that I found interesting, odd and/or comical, and thought others might want to read, people who were following me on twitter might assume that I agreed with those tweets and so I realised that I had better indicate on my profile that this might not be the case.
Also, I have noticed that the range of issues that interest me sometimes mean that I am covering a number of issues, from US, UK and Canadian politics to international issues around poverty, austerity and neoliberalism, to issues to do with post-secondary education and universities, across the same three countries, as well as some related issues to do with journalism, (alternative) media and writing.
I have found twitter to be sometimes incredibly addictive and I find myself trying to be clever or witty, but then get a response which indicates that, perhaps, the limitation of 140 characters meant that my ‘wit’ was easily misunderstood!! Or when I was being ironic…..
Also, I have found blogging to be an interesting process, too. It can be addictive in itself, particularly when you feel that you have something to say. As a university-based educator, I find that I want to be careful that I do not cite or include erroneous or incorrect information, but which is also time consuming. Yet, as with twitter, blogging appears to be more important as a process of perhaps shortening one’s comments to a couple or three paragraphs (say about 150-250 words), and then posting them.
The logic of both blogging and tweeting appears to be trying to be succinct and yet say something. The question becomes though has the technology or the technique (techné?) come to shape how I/we think in adapting ourselves to using these media?
My last thought on this for today is whether twitter, which I have found exciting when events are taking place, and blogging are, either individually or together, merely ‘time-wasters’ that give us an illusion of having a say (via cyberspace) when there are few people reading our blogs and tweets?