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August 24, 2009

Twitter Primer

Steven R. Berryman

The phenomenon is not understood. It has nothing to do with text messaging, and more to do with poetry and “forced pithiness.”


Were it not for my work neighbor, call her the "Twitter Gitter," suffering all of my ill-informed questions, it would all be a mystery now.


The pithiness of outgoing text "tweets" is forced by the dialog box on home page, as even Bill Gates gets no more space than 140 characters.


In other words, once signed up and signed on to Twitter, a free proposition, including spaces, each item block sent is limited to a 140 max.


For example, the above four paragraphs, and all the others use up exactly this amount of room for musings; pushing at the dramatic license!


Beware that there is no spell-check, and there are rules of the road and tricks of the trade; IMHO this is to "reveal" the messenger inside.


First sign up, and then create your profile. Your friends can search you by it, and having good key words helps to identify common threads.


Add either a picture of yourself, or an "avatar," which can be any image or caricature you like that may have personal significance to you.


The fun begins when you are set up and folks notice you and become your "followers," meaning they look at what you send out as your "tweet."


No, no, this is not diabolical, as in Plankton taking over the world in "SpongeBob SquarePants!" They are merely subscribing fans reading.


Some "followers" appear randomly, some have sought you out, so be aware of any exposure risk or stalking potential before you become public.


Some will be spammers, marketers or pornographers; be sure to sort them out by checking their profiles; and edit them out as you deem necessary.


The payoff is big as you serendipitously find like-minded others that may never have been known by you; like the ships passing in the night.


Best part is: Now you decide whom to follow yourself! Do searches for existing friends, do keyword searches and read their twits over time.


Experiment. Reveal just what you wish to reveal, and post whatever you want; not just "What are you doing" as the dialogue box suggests....


The big payoff is consolidating the various thoughts into a synthesis for your further evaluation; twit on what you find then, if you wish.


I follow The Washington Post, WFMD Radio, The Frederick News-Post, and favorite columnists involved in multiplying their messages to others.


If you are in a cause, like We Surround Them – Frederick, or Help Save Maryland, or just want to follow the action, Twitter can't be beat!!


Some tricks on tweets: use a hash sign – or the pound symbol # – as it makes any connected word searchable by others seeking common ground.


To amplify your message, include web addresses and links for whatever your content may be, as in Too long ????


Then go to where any long address will be ingeniously shortened for your into a summary URL that works exactly the same way. becomes the link you include then, just created for you, as it saves characters, creating a summary link effect.


President Obama used Twitter during his historic campaign, getting the word out fast, and keeping supporters pulling in the same direction.


BHO's method could have been to twitter one person in each of our 58 States for instance, and then that one repeats from their state on out.


Being on top of the state-of-the-art networking technology wave was critical to the victory margin for him in campaign 2008, no doubt about!


And so we learn from winners and adapt, as "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery," in this case justly deserved. Outcome be damned.


So explore Twitter if you wish, as the journey is half of the fun. And budget your time and don't get too much sucked in to this adventure.


Again, as "brevity is the soul of wit," you will become more conservative and respectful of words using twitter; you simply have no choice! or


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