Today’s 23 Things Kansas activity is another one to which I am no stranger. Microblogging–which I don’t think is exactly the best term for it, but don’t have a better suggestion yet–takes advantage of peoples’ short attention span, and only allows them small spaces in which to create messages to followers. Whereas a blog–like this one–is rather unlimited in length of message (which I unfortunately tend to take advantage of), a microblog such as Twitter keeps you to a limit. In the case of Twitter, that limit is 140 characters, which was designed to fit inside an SMS text message (160 characters), leaving 20 extra characters for @replies and #hashtags and such.
As you can see from my sidebar to the right of this post, I do already participate in the Twitter scene, though I probably am not as active as I should be to actually make the tool beneficial to me professionally. I mainly use it as a quick way to update my Facebook status without having to actually log in to Facebook (sad!) and for stalker-following my favorite pseudo-celebrities. Some of the 72 people I follow: Felicia Day (Internet star), Wil Wheaton (Wesley Crusher from Star Trek: The Next Generation), Molly Wood of CNET, LeVar Burton (Georgi Laforge on ST:TNG and from Reading Rainbow fame!), podcaster Scott Johnson, Macworld magazine, and Google.
As far as actual, useful, educational uses of Twitter (for me), one of the more interesting things I’ve done with Twitter is participate in last summer’s first worldwide Twitter book club called 1 Book, 1 Twitter (@1b1t2010). An untold large number of people participated by reading Neil Gaiman’s American Gods one chapter at a time, using the hashtag #1b1t to communicate about the book as they read. Aside from not particularly liking the book, it was an interesting experience that I will likely repeat this summer, assuming #1b1t takes off again.
Another helpful tool is using Google as a live feed for microblogs around the world. If you go to Google’s Realtime search, your search terms will pull in results from Twitter, Facebook (public profiles), and more. I blogged about this feature previously in regards to tracking topic trends in blogs using BlogPulse. It’s a great tool to see discussion trends or breaking news as they happen.