1000 tweets later

Twitter wordle

Last August I took up Twitter. I've just reached a thousand tweets (or will have, when this post is auto-tweeted), so it seems like an appropriate time to reflect on how useful the whole thing is.

I was initially sceptical, but I find that Twitter does complement blogging very well. It's a good place to post links to useful or interesting links which I think are worth sharing, but aren't worth a blog post (I don't like just posting links: I feel I should say something insightful to go along with it, but I don't always have something insightful to say!) Ditto for things I come across in my reading. It's not quite as good as having somebody sitting next to you who to say 'hey, look at this!' to, but then again that sort of behaviour is usually frowned upon in libraries anyway. As the wordle above shows, most of my tweets are military history-related, and still often aviation-related, but a bit more broadly construed than here on the blog. ('rt' is short for 'retweet', which reposting the tweets of other users.) I also talk about other interests or pop culture from time to time. Of course, I could do that here if I wanted, but I don't want to change the focus of the blog. The informality of Twitter makes it easier to play around.

Even more than blogging, Twitter is about who is following you and who you are following. (In round numbers, about 140 and about 100 people, respectively.) While there are a few regular Airminded commenters who are on Twitter (@thrustvector, @AirPowerHistory, @jondresner, @lifeasdaddy), I generally interact with a different set of people there. I get the sense that most of them don't read Airminded, at least not habitually -- even outside of the SEO consultants (who LOVE using the web, but only seem to actually use the web to tell other people how they can get more readers). On the other hand, there are people I've interacted with in the Twitterverse who do read Airminded, but wouldn't comment here. Informality wins again. The abbreviated and fleeting nature of tweeting makes it more liberating, in a sense, than blogging: there's only so much you can say in 140 characters, so you don't need to say something brilliant, and if you say something strikingly unbrilliant, well, it's soon lost in the stream. (On the other hand, it's surprising just how clever some people can be with so little to work with.)

My proudest Twitter moment did relate to Airminded. @ukwarcabinet is tweeting the British Cabinet's view of the Second World War, day by day (currently it's up to 4 February 1940). It's run by the National Archives (@UkNatArchives), and includes a link to the relevant Cabinet papers, which can be downloaded for free. And according to Jo Pugh (@mentionthewar), who works on it, I was partly to blame:

@Airminded I hope the @ukwarcabinet thing seems like a good idea. It was largely inspired by your post-blogging the Sudeten Crisis.

Which is very cool indeed.

Twitter promises to be even better than a bunch of RSS feeds for keeping tabs on conferences, jobs and general academic gossip. I say 'promises' because academia is, as usual, slow to cotton on to new media, and the critical mass of #twitterstorians isn't quite there yet for Twitter to be an essential way to keep up to date with your own field. Which is one reason why I'm writing this post: sign up, follow @Airminded, and tweet! If you choose not to, you can still get an idea of what I'm tweeting by looking at the bottom of the sidebar on Airminded's home page.

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8 thoughts on “1000 tweets later

  1. I'm really enjoying Twitter myself. It reminds me of the early days of blogging, in terms of the breadth of people, the new connections, and the speed of communication. Which makes me feel old, somehow. As I said at the carnival, it operates in a very productive gray area between professionalism and informality, information and play.

  2. A 1000 tweets...Well done you Twit! (BTW this is a joke!) Is that the right descripttion for Twitters? Anyway they are always informative just like the blog.

  3. ErrolC

    Well done. I've just followed you (@errolwi), although I've had airminded.org on RSS for some time.

    I'm using twitter tomorrow to mini-blog a trip to an airshow (via DC-3), which is a lot less work than having an actual blog.

  4. Post author


    Yes, it's still got a bit of that 'wild west' feel about it, like the early days of blogging/the web/usenet/etc (not that I was there for the early days of any of them, except the web). Then masses of AOLlers come along and routinise everything. Enjoy it while it's new!


    Thanks, I think 'tweeps' is the proper term :)


    And followed back. Good pics!

  5. Neil Datson

    I rather think that one of David Cameron's 'foot in mouth' moments was when he referred to so many 'twits making a twat' - or something like that.

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