I’ve long felt a bit conflicted on the subject of Twitter. I remember doing a workshop while I was a student at the University of Warwick, and we were being encouraged to embrace the micro-blog opportunities afforded by Twitter. Someone asked whether it was okay to tweet during conference presentations, and the facilitator suggested it would be fine. I was horrified – to me, that sounded somewhat disrespectful, like being on your mobile phone at the back of the classroom (and any teenager will tell you that’s guaranteed to get you into trouble!)
How the times change… I was at a conference last month, and found myself tweeting all sorts of fun things during presentations. A couple of people did look a bit annoyed, so I tried to make sure they could see the screen – I felt the need to convey that honest, I’m not texting!
As a result of my tweeting, and the fact that I was one of the plenary presenters, I picked up quite a lot of new followers that day. And for a few days afterwards it was fun, seeing what got re-tweeted, favouriting others’ tweets, joining in with a bit of inspirational midwifery chat… But beyond that, I began to find it all a bit too much like hard work. Very distracting, too, if I’m honest. And I encountered my long-standing problem with Twitter: it’s like being in a tiny part of lots of conversations, but I do struggle to keep up because I feel like it’s a language of minimalism.
However, I’m going to keep going, because some great stuff has happened in my relationships via Twitter lately: first, I’m able to publicise a research service user network I’ve been involved in setting up; second, I get my daily dose of happy midwives via Twitter – there’s a group of highly motivated, positive and enthusiastic student midwives over there; and lastly, I had an incredibly satisfying moment in a meeting a couple of weeks ago, where I was able to say that yes, I had been able to locate a particular paper, because I got in touch with the author via Twitter!
I’ve noticed that a lot of my colleagues don’t engage with Twitter – just as many of them don’t really get involved in blogging, either. What do you do? Do you follow Piirus on Twitter? Are we all happy tweeters nowadays? Does anyone else get that half-a-conversation frustration that I’ve described? Or do people have highly effective ways of filtering out all the stuff they’re not that interested in? (Watch our blog for some Piirus tips on using Twitter!) And finally, has anyone built a research collaboration from Twitter beginnings? We’d love to hear about it if you’ve managed that.