Twitter... somebody teach me

I've mostly figured out Drupal yet Twitter still mystifies me... not complicated enough? Biggrin (Being a dispensationalist, I like complexity)

Anyway, can someone who understands Twitter well explain to me what the #this and @that are all about? For example, right now if I go to Twitter.com the home page has some links to things like "Thanksgiving" "new moon" and "#blackfriday"

So why does blackfriday have a "#" ?  What exactly makes some "topics" have "#" and some not?

Question 2: I hear people say sometimes, "So and so tweeted me." What does that mean? I see how you can post stuff in a Twitter account but how would you "tweet" a person?

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Mike Durning's picture

Aaron, don't do it! Don't surrender to twitter!

People used to write books.
Then they wrote pamphlets.
Then they wrote blogs.
Then they texted and twittered.

At each iteration, the amount of data communicated diminishes.
We are rapidly approaching the point where we will no longer be able to express complex ideas with our primary forms of communications.

People spend more time on more simple communications. Little, simple communications drive out big complex ones. Witness the current threat to eliminate mail delivery once a week. After all, who writes letters anymore?
Now people who have never read a book only communicate with texts and twitters. Their most complex ideas are "LOL" or "b ther soon" or a brief quote from a song.
Soon we will descend into unintelligibility.
The next iteration will doubtless include sub-humans sending out single letters in a tragic parody of the act of communication.
And after that, civilization collapses.

How long do we have? I don't know. But a few years from now, SI will be a bunch of people sending messages through their watches.
"Fundy"
"No"
"Alcohol?"
"some"
"C?, not Fundy."

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I think you have a good point. It's got to end somewhere though. Once you get down to 3 or 4 digit posts, meaning becomes just about impossible. I suppose one could still send a greeting... Day! ...and answer one... Day!
Just think, though, when 99% of the world's population has been reduced to 140 character posts (or 70 char. or whatever comes next) for communication, those who know how to write and read complex sentences will [size=16 ]rule[/size ] [size=20 ]the[/size ] [size=26 ]world! [/size ] [size=30 ]Bwahhahhahahahahahah!!![/size ]
Sorry, got a bit excited there.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

u

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

2

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Ann B.'s picture

Y'all might be interested in the E.B. White story "Irtnog," which is the same topic pre-Twitter days. Here's a link to a copy of the story (although the actual website is about some kind of security network): http://web.irtnog.org/about/story.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Enjoyed that. A little parable of sorts. I'll have to digest it for a while.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

I just can't get into it. Facebook I understand and have fun with, but Twitter... it leaves me blank. I have my Facebook, Twitter, and blog connected so that new posts show up in my feed, but I seldom tweet or read tweets. (Tweet and Retweet sat on a wall....)

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I think it probably appeals mostly to folks using phones and other handhelds. On PC, I can't figure out what the draw is either. But SI has two Twitter accounts now and I'm trying to figure out how to make the most of them. Exploring some ways to automatically feed stuff from the site to Twitter, etc. Need to look more into Facebook as well since one of our members (Jamie Hart I believe)something there also a while back.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Bob Hayton's picture

Aaron,

I can help somewhat.

# is a hash tag, and when it is connected with something like "apj" as in #apj then it becomes a Twitter search term. In twitter, you can claim search terms and then keep track of all posts with that symbol. Today there is "Ask Pastor John" live on DesiringGod.org. So everyone who submits a question just adds #apj onto their twitter post and it all gets aggregated seamlessly. All you have to do is follow all posts containing #apj and you can follow what's happening with that event. Same goes for conferences etc. People can make blackfriday a search term, and even add some definitions around using it if they want.

@ is a way to talk to people directly. If I tweet "@arronblumer how's it going? Did you get my email?" Then only the Twitter user with the user name "aaronblumer" will get that message. Others can see it but not in their subscription feed however, unless they are followers of both me (the one who posted that twitter post [better known as a tweet ] and aaronblumer. So it's like replying or responding to people. Someone may send out a general update to everyone about a great book they just read. One of their followers can reply using the @ sign and let them know they are reading the same book or something.

RT is retweet. Instead of linking to people's tweets, you just copy them to all of your followers if you like it. It's polite to say RT: @aaronblumer when I quote aaron because then people know the original thought or post came from him. You can easily keep track of all your mentions due to the @ symbol again.

I've found Twitter to be useful and fun. I find lots of great articles and links, and stay abreast of breaking news through it. It has largely replaced my Google Reader in that I use Twitter far more. Plus, my Twitter updates my Facebook status too, and so I don't have to log in to Facebook to be active on it as well. My twitter updates go on my blog sidebar too, so people can see what I'm up to and reading, etc.

Twitter can be really bland and inane. You can tweet what you're eating each day or something. But the majority of those I follow and that which I post has nothing to do with that. It's more meaty and meaningful. It expands my reach as a blogger and book reviewer, and also allows me to find new blogs and people to follow. It has good group applications as well.

Anyway, that's a brief description of Twitter. I also wrote up something in a post on my blog about this: [URL=http://www.fundamentallyreformed.com/2009/05/21/mircroblogging-twitter-a... Mircroblogging: Twitter As the New Frontier of Blogging[/URL ].

Now what we need around here is a twitter directory of Sharper Iron members on Twitter.

My twitter handle is rjhayton (as in @rjhayton Smile )

Striving for the unity of the faith, for the glory of God ~ Eph. 4:3, 13; Rom. 15:5-7 I blog at Fundamentally Reformed. Follow me on Twitter.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Thanks, Bob. That does help. Still a bit foggy on RT: but it'll click one of these days.
A directory is a great idea. Will have to think about how to do that. One way to get started might be to just start a thread for it (under "Members Getting Together" maybe) and then give it some front page attention. But it probably makes more sense longterm to add a field to profiles for Twitter ID and then just make a view to show everybody who's got something in that field.
Probably wouldn't be hard to do.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Bob Hayton's picture

Yea, I was going to start a twitter thread, then saw this post....

Glad it helped. The easiest way is to get it figured out is to try it. Get an account, and follow a few people and you'll get the feel for what Twitter is and does. I find Twitterfox (now called Echofon) to be the easiest. I add it to my Firefox browser and then all my twitter updates are in one small convenient box I click on when I want to.

I got a twitter account and tried it for a while and it didn't click. Then I had a friend I knew start twittering and I followed him and started paying more attention. Then it clicked and pretty much everyone started getting on Twitter.

It gets a bad rap, as Facebook did when it first started out, but really it is a useful communication (social media) tool.

Striving for the unity of the faith, for the glory of God ~ Eph. 4:3, 13; Rom. 15:5-7 I blog at Fundamentally Reformed. Follow me on Twitter.