Friday, April 6, 2012

You Teach, I Learn

OK, friends, I need your help.

It has become necessary that I join this thing called Twitter because in less than three weeks I am needing to be in a "Conversation" about cardboard, with some very important people. I know zero about Twitter. Is it like Facebook? I am on Facebook, yet I'm also never on Facebook. See- I'm so uncool that I even spell it out in full - F.A.C.E.B.O.O.K. (I understand that the really with-it people say "FB"). I've seen this Twitter logo on people's blogs and think, "hey - that's a cute bird icon. I should reverse-applique it sometime." And felt no inclination whatsoever to uh.. twit? tweet? Until now. So I went and signed up and now I have an account. But um... what does one do with it? How does it work? Is it like status updates on Facebook, er, I mean FB? I've heard you can auto-post like how I cheat on my blog posts and line them up to self-publish when I'm on vacation. How does that work when you're in a "conversation?" Do you publish all your updates at once, like a automatic machine gun going off? Isn't that rude? Do you have to be sitting at your computer? Do you have to go to a special webpage to read tweets? What about conversations - whose twitter page do you visit? Twenty at once? What if people ask you a question? Do you even know that the question is directed at you? Oh, wait, that's what the @ is for, right? So it would look like this --:

Other People: Hey, what have you made in cardboard lately?
Me (wondering who they mean): (silence)
Other People: Helloooooo? I'm talking to you!
Me (wondering if I should speak up): (silence)
Other People: Hey! You! Yes, you! I'm talking to you @ikatbag!!!!!!!!!!!!
Me: Oh! Um, yeah, hi! Well, yes, uh.... well, @Other People, I made a cardboard house. What about you, @Second Fiddle, or you, @Third Wheel?

Do you reply like email/ichat? Can you interrupt? Also I've heard you need like one million followers. Seriously? Why? The logical part of my brain tells me that it sort of defeats the purpose of a social network if you keep your account a secret, but can't I just choose, say, 3 best friends? When I signed up for my account, the welcome page urged me to pick people to follow. Like President Obama, and Taylor Swift. Eeeek! Why would I want to eavesdrop on their conversations? Clearly, I'm missing some very important point here. But, okay, I'll obey. Here is my twitter thingamabob - anyone want to follow me?

And just in case I haven't sufficiently impressed upon you how From The Dark Ages I am, let me tell you about my cellphone - it's so old that it doesn't even have a camera on it, let alone android whatchamacallit. Only text capability. And I'm so undependent on it that when it died (for good) five days ago, I didn't even notice. My husband had to find a spare cellphone in the house and charge it up for me, until I have the time to go to the phone store and pick a new one. Hopefully Nokia, because it lasts forever and I can continue to stagnate for another decade before I have to learn to use some new technology. So no, I'm unlikely to do this twitter thing while "on-the-go". I'll just sit at my computer all afternoon, like a bad Skype session with no visuals.

Then there's this thing called a hashtag that I'm supposed to sprinkle in my conversations. I've read up about it and I know what it is and what it's for. But do I put it in every single message I send out? Er, I mean tweet. Does it have to be embedded within a real sentence? So, for instance, is this (see sparkling conversation below) wrong?

Me: Hey! Come join us for a fun afternoon of #CardboardFun!
Other people: Sweet! When is it?
Me: You mean #CardboardFun? It's on Wednesday, April 4!
Other people: What's it about?
Me: #CardboardFun, obviously!

Oh, this is so going to bomb. What kind of conversation is that? Are tweets even dialog? Or sequential? 

The husband (he wins the Supportive Husband of the Year award, I swear) and I spent some time reading random tweets to try and figure out how they worked. We picked the MN Twins page because we like baseball. We really analyzed them, like code-breaker FBI agents, but for the life of us couldn't deduce anything useful. Why are there all these @ things in the same tweet? Like, what does "@John:@Mary"? mean? Whose tweet was that? And who's talking - John? Mary? Both? At the same time? Neither? 

I'm going out on a prophetic limb here to say that I'm sure once I'm actually ON the bandwagon, I'm going to love it, like email and pinterest and blogging. But until then, Help, you guys! Educate me! Send in your advice in the comments so other people can read them too and needn't repeat your suggestions (and waste their time writing it all out). After you've gotten off the floor where you've been rolling about, guffawing, I mean. 

P.S. And how can a person talk about cardboard in 140 characters or less? Have you seen the lengths of my cardboard posts? 


  1. I have so much help for you. Read this blog post I wrote about being a Twitter newbie, and make SURE to read the Jessica Hische "Mom, This is How Twitter Works" article I link to. Really, do it. My post is written at a librarian audience (like myself) but you should find some helpful things there :D

    1. Miss Anna,

      Thank you so much for your awesome post, and the link to Jessica's intro post. Very, very helpful! We're away at the extended family's home for the weekend, so I just got to sneak away to read your post and Jessica's. I'm going to digest all that good info over the next couple of days - it should clear my head some!

  2. Oh I hope you get some good feedback here because you sound just like me. Thankfully I haven't had a reason to figure it out yet!

  3. I can't help. I, too, have a barely used Twitter account. I'm there, yet I'm not there. I will be following your comments, though. And take heart, there are other like you!! I hope someone can offer some good advice/Twitter tutorial!

  4. Yeah, I am with you on this. Except my pinterest account lies abandoned, and my blog is eerily quiet. Twitter? Who needs it. I will be watching comments closely to find out if I should even go there!

  5. Good luck with the Twiter thing. I inherited our work account, and all I ever do is "retweet" other relevant messages. I have not figured out the hashmark stuff or "language" on there either. Maybe I should read Miss Anna's article too.

  6. No help from me, just chuckles of appreciation at your blogging!

  7. ok, i can totally relate on the cell phone thing. mine is at least 5 years old, has no camera, and the memory card in it is from an even older cell phone so it can only hold about 30 ingoing/outgoing messages at a time!
    i'm waiting for the day it dies (for good) to go get another one...i don't want the internet hanging out in my pocket!

  8. sorry can't help you. I to have no idee

  9. I've been on twitter for a few years now, but only recently started to "get" it - and have a lot to learn! For the most part, I ignore it - I autofeed it my posts (you can schedule times, if you use hootsuite I think), and participate in the occasional twitter party if I know there will be people involved in it with interesting things to say. Not convinced it's anywhere near as useful as, say, Pinterest.

  10. Delurking here to just say there are no rules per se and that you should use it however you want to. Also, you'll get the hang of it in no time at all! It's like facebook, but not in a private network unless you make it so.

    Some answers to your specific Qs; not definitive at all, just random things I've learnt along the way:
    Hastags are optional, and sprinkled in so that people can find topics more easily. e.g. You could find out if there are cardboard craft related hashtags and use those in your tweets if you want other cardboard crafters to see your tweets when they do a search for that hashtag. Some people use RSS feeds of specific hashtags to keep an eye on stuff, e.g. news etc.

    Followers: you don't have to follow everyone who follows you. Follow the people whose tweets you want to read regularly. Some BIG tweeters follow everyone who follows them, but that would probably make it hard for you to read the tweets most relevant to you. If you're reading tweets by text, it gets too annoying and expensive to have every tweet from people you are following sent to your phone. (I know; I have a non-smartphone. I like to call it stupidphone.) You can delve into your account settings to select which followers' tweets get sent by text. And you can globally switch it on and off using your phone by text too. Checking out account settings every now and again is a good idea. They keep adding functionality to twitter.

    An advantage of using the website or programs like tweetdeck, twitterific, etc (there are more; i am behind the curve on this), is that you can find out if anyone has tweeted at you or mentioned you. and that's where the @ comes in. short for "at". if you want to get someone's attention, you add @username in your tweet. if your tweet starts with @username, it doesn't appear to your other followers unless they are also following the other person. private messages can be sent using "d". I am so lazy that I subscribe to an RSS feed of tweets to me.

    But honestly, use it however you want to! There is a general etiquette just like using email or writing letters, but you seem naturally polite (I think all Singaporeans probably have that drilled into us), so that's not going to be a problem. I don't think I've ever read anything about twitter etiquette that I fully agree with, so please don't let others dictate what you do and don't tweet.

    I'm @akatsukira on twitter if you have Qs. i don't use it regularly, like the always-on smartphone users do, but i check it daily like email. Also, major disclaimer: I am totally not a social media expert. I've just been on twitter for years and use it at a very basic level. To moan about my life, occasionally alert my followers about my blog posts, keep in touch with fellow food bloggers, and follow the cricket!!!

    1. Thanks, Akatsukira! I really appreciate all the demystifying you did in your comment. Am away at the inlaws' for the weekend but soon as I get home I'm going to delve right in (children permitting) and see where it takes me.

      P.S. Hello, fellow Merlionian!

  11. I signed up for Twitter a couple years ago and hardly ever use it. I set it up so my Facebook page (which also rarely gets updated) automatically posts to my Twitter page, and then half the time it cuts off whatever I wrote because my Facebook updates are usually longer than 140 characters. Oh well... Good luck keeping it short! ;-)

  12. Ha ha. I think I could have written half this post. I joined twitter to start promoting the apps I'm writing for android, even though I do not own a smartphone. It is different than facebook, and I don't quite know exactly what I am supposed to tweet.

    I too have a cell phone so old that it does not have a camera, it is rarely charged, and 90 percent of the time I don't know where it is. :)

  13. Hi I am a fairly new twitter user but have found it very useful for my teaching role. I am able to use hashtags to quickly find tweets by other educators that may give me links I can follow or new ideas to use in my teaching. There are some great guides out there for new users. You have been given a great one in an earlier comment by Miss Anna.

    With regard followers and following I think that you will soon find those that provide you with inspiration and are worth following and those that you may choose to block if they follow you simply to boost their numbers or advertise a product. You are very much in charge of who you follow and therefore what you see in you twitter feed (the stuff that shows up on your twitter homepage).

    Tweet conversations can be confusing, especially if there is a large group of like minded people who have organised a time to discuss something. What is a tweetchat?

    You can use a program such as tweetchat to follow the conversation. Everyone involved will use the same hashtag so that tweetchat collects all the tweets as they happen. Fortunately tweetchat has a pause button if you need to catch your breath.

    I only ever use twitter on my computer as I, too, am one of those who has a mobile phone that does little more than makes calls and send texts. I see no need for anything else at present. I am able to check in every now and then, scan the messages that have come into my twitter feed and check out any links that might be useful. I am able to share links I find useful by posting them in my twitter feed for others to see. So as you can see my main use is to find and share resources that help me to be a better teacher.

    Similarly I probably first came across your blog through a twitter recommendation or RSS reader recommendation because of your amazing cardboard creations and your innovative sewing.

    Good luck diving into the world of twitter.

    1. Hey Mrs S,

      Thank you esp for the links to tweet chat and what it is. I'll have to ask if this twitter conversation I'm in is on tweet chat, and then swot all the relevant stuff accordingly. Did you really find my via Twitter? Fun. I like finding out about things that are helping me without my even realizing it. Yay!

  14. I’ve only just started on twitter in the last 3 months and had no idea what to do with it. I quickly realised though that once you have a whole bunch of like-minded people to follow i.e sewing blogs, you get hooked. I find that there are whole chunks of time that I’m not blogging about what I’m doing but I’m certainly working on things or creating all the time and none of my readers get to really see that day to day process. The stumbles, the breakthroughs, the whole package. So for me being on there is a way to have up to the minute updates on what I and other people or working on. You can tweet a question about a pattern and get responses instantly, you can update people on a fabric purchase, a halfway point of a project, a great piece of inspiration...whatever. I quickly linked my instagram app to twitter so that I could attach photos to my tweets but it’s not essential. I would suggest befriending all your favourite bloggers and using it as a platform to communicate and update others without neccessarily having to deliver a nicely packaged finished product. Just get out there and let us know what you’re up to. That’s what I’m on there for! Happy tweeting!

  15. Gees, you are so funny! Thank you for sounding so amusingly feeble because I'm in the same position as you and now I can tag along and learn as you go.

    Thank you for helping on so many levels!

  16. My phone (10+? years) does have a camera but there is no more memory to store photos. My phone (samsung) has outlasted everyone else's phones. It's working, that's all I ask.
    I am still figuring out FB (like that? I didn't spell it out) as the people I want to see are hidden by the people who tend towards drivel ("I'm going to see Hunger Games", I'm cutting my nails", "My cat threw up a hairball") to some great photos posted.
    I have found, I just cannot spend time on twitter and Pinterest because then I am not sewing/crafting/being creative. I am still processing the very publickness of it all and reconciling it to my private inclinations. I can't see myself twittering but then I don't have a smart phone super-glued to my eyeball. I will bookmark the above "how-to" just in case I've been really stupid all these years by not tweeting.

    I have heard from my niece (30) and my kids (mid-20's) that NO ONE e-mails anymore. Obviously, I am old(er). I think the fountain of youth is all about learning all the new technology (sigh).

    On a good note, I have taught my 78 year old mother to use a kindle.

  17. Man I don't even have pinterest, let alone facebook or twitter. Its all I can do to keep up with blogging, email and texting. Life is way too short in my book.... Anyway, I guess the trick is to jump in and figure it out as you go, like most technology and kinda like it when you get a new snazzy sewing machine for the first time!

    Good luck and I hope the cardboard thing is worth the learning curve :o).

  18. a lot has been said by now...and I am sure you have become a twitter pro in the meantime. I have been using twitter for a while...but you know what...I don´t have that much time to check all the ongoing conversations although I don´t follow so many people. So, it's important to take your time into prefer working on your crafts or read tweets? Sometimes I have an information overload.

  19. Hope you enjoy it! One note (if you haven't figured it out yet) - the thing said above about starting it with an @ is incorrect - if you start off a tweet with "@dangandblast," everyone would be able to see it, whether or not they follow me. (If they don't follow me, and I'm private (only approved followers can see my tweets), and your post is a response to me, then they wouldn't be able to see my tweet; otherwise, responses will show what they're a response to on the individual page.)

    That appears to be a common misconception, though... got a certain Anthony Weiner in trouble!

  20. Hmm, think my comment vanished. Anyhow - what's said above about starting a tweet with @ is incorrect (as you may have figured out by now). If you (@ikatbag) reply to something said by me (@dangandblast), people will see both of our tweets unless my feed is set to private. If you just write something starting "@dangandblast", everyone will see that tweet, not just me and people following me!

    It appears to be a somewhat common misconception, though... got a certain aptly-named congressman in trouble, when he thought those tweets were private!

  21. Ah, didn't see it was approval for comments - that box doesn't show up if you haven't yet signed into your commenting account. Odd, that.


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