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Archive for January 2nd, 2008

Skepticism aside, Twitter FTW

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2008

Everywhere I turn I see Twitter-this or Twitter-that. I even read a post today about how Twitter will come of age in 2008. (I would link to it, but I can’t find it again. Sorry guys.)

I for one am intrigued by the possibilities. Even though last week, a few reporters and I went out after work and somehow we ended up talking about Twitter and they all made merciless fun of me. They don’t get it. I can’t blame them. It wasn’t that long ago I was skeptical, too.

I was off today, and I have been exploring some of the possibilities everyone is talking about.

Recently, I started importing the feed from Meranda Writes and from stumblED. (The latter is my education tumble log, remember that?) I also started following hashtags. Though I’ve only used it once so far to post my #resolutions. I also keep my Facebook mates up to date on my whereabouts by feeding my twitter updates to my Facebook status. None of this makes me a better journalist, per se, but knowing how the technology works is the first step, I guess to commanding it for my craft not just for fun. But even just for fun, me gusta.

Today, I set up a Twitter account, more for my own amusement and use than anything else, that imports RSS feeds off jconline. Of course, I’ll have to see how the powers that be feel about it. But either way, it’s useful for me. It could be useful to other people in the community who use Twitter (including a few who are following me, one of whom I’d never met and happened to run into at a coffee shop this weekend!). I also foresee, if we could establish a sizable userbase, it could be a good crowdsourcing medium or great way to break news quicker/as we get it. But I’m getting ahead of myself. I was just playing with Twitterfeed.

If only I could figure out how to get just a feed of my bylines. (Funny enough, that teacher memories call-out posted now is mine.) But I am not so sophisticated or intelligent enough to get it to feed just my stories for you all (OK, just my mom and maybe a professor or two curious what I’m up to and wondering just how much I’m producing out here). I’m working on it. So far, the best archive for my recent stories is actually Newstin. Check that, I just scanned the page — apparently I can get Newstin as an RSS feed. Wish granted. I love the Internet. My Twitter followers are now in for a treat: an ongoing log of the stories I write. Yay?

Meanwhile, on the JC Twitter account, I can’t figure out a smart way to avoid pulling in stories that are out on multiple feeds. For example, a story on the Purdue feed and on the sports feed about the Big Ten. In fact, I am not pulling in the breaking news/top stories feed because it’s nearly always just the same as the news feed, except for some reason it also pulls in content off our Moms site and occasionally, off the WLHS microsite. Part of the problem is that our RSS feeds (like many newspaper feeds) are wonky. I don’t think anyone actually sits down to think about which 10 stories get pushed out each morning, and only items posted as breaking news AND news during the day get put out on RSS, not the “breaking news” at the top of jconline. (That probably doesn’t make sense to you, but it’s part of the classification you have to choose in the CMS.) So my RSS feed/Twitter idea is only as helpful as those stories it chooses. I wish we had an Opinions RSS feed, because those are popular here, too.

Anyway, to get back to my point, I’m not sure, still, when or if Twitter will “come of age.” But there are certainly lots of cool things going on with it. Here’s a few:

  • ReporTwitters (Using the medium to be a better reporter. Sounds like an interesting proposal.)

  • Tweet Scan (Search for your own interests, like Apple, or when breaking news happens for fire & California. You get the idea.)
  • Hashtags (Tag your twitter posts.)
  • Twitterfeed (Import your RSS feeds, or even the RSS feeds of blogs you regularly read, a la ojaggregator. It’s the filter/editor and choosing the best blogs to follow, so I don’t have to.)

That’s just to name a few I use. There are hundreds more and new ones coming each day.

Anyone else know something cool I missed or could use?