Why should we care about Twitter?

I keep seeing mentions of Twitter on biblioblogs.

I have no problem with people enjoying whatever new social toy floats their boats, but why should libraryfolk care about Twitter? How can it be applied to our work? Are bibliobloggers just going on about it because it is a neat new social toy?

I’m not finding answers to these questions.

Got any? I’d love to hear them.

19 thoughts on “Why should we care about Twitter?

  1. David, I commented over at Iris’ place. Has anyone actually suggested that librarians should be all a-twitter? I assumed that the various twitterers were blogging about personal fascination… but maybe I’m missing something. Well, Liz Lawley’s talking about social connections, but that’s one of her things.

    Surely nobody’s saying that librarians should jump on *every* new thing, no matter what? (I don’t see any such suggestions in the LibWorm result…and before the BlogCops jump in, ***I am not saying that anyone HAS made such a statement***)

    (I’m not a twitterer; as an introvert who’s not always “connected,” it wouldn’t float my boat.)

  2. GMTA- I also noticed Iris and I posted at the same time.


    It is almost as though I had a device via which I could get a constant read on what she was doing… πŸ˜‰

    Walt wrote: “Has anyone actually suggested that librarians should be all a-twitter?”

    Not that I know of- and I didn’t suggest that anyone had. What I’m saying is that it is curious to see so many librarians who frequently write about the use of “social software” in libraries all talking about this tool at the same time. It wouldn’t strike me as strange if the tool seemed to have some practical application in libraries.

    Like Iris, I’m puzzled. I don’t get it. I’m hoping someone will explain it to me.

  3. David, I think we’re on the same page (I wasn’t suggesting that you made such a suggestion–just wondering whether I’d missed one–and aware that I’ve been accused of straw men before, so trying to forestall such an accusation).

    Some social software is relevant to libraries. Some isn’t. Those boundaries are anything but fixed. To me, twitter is WAY over on the irrelevant side…

    Count me as puzzled three, then.

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  5. Steve, could you perhaps share some idea why? I read your post, but still don’t see it.

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  7. David, it is possible that you are thinking too hard about this! If it doesn’t seem fun to you, that’s OK.

    I don’t see a library application to Twitter, but it makes sense to me that a geographically dispersed group of acquaintances (like library bloggers) might find it a fun thing to use to keep tabs on each other.

    You know how people put up IM away/available messages that say what they are doing? It’s like that, only broadcasting.

    A few hours ago, Andrea Mercado put out a brief plea for help finding stuff over Twitter. She knew a few of her librarian buddies would see it and maybe help. I did a little searching and offered a possible link (also via Twitter). It is just a different, low-stakes way of keeping in touch.

    But, really, it could just be a fad. I certainly can’t see myself updating my status multiple times per day every day.

  8. Right now, I’m not sure what practical library applications Twitter has. But maybe if enough of us library types try it out and experiment with it, we’ll think of some. Isn’t that how many new tech toys get applied?

  9. I am with you, David. Twitter is an inane plaything for narcissistic airheads who blithely assume that their banal doings are of intense interest to everyone in the world. What we need are serious blogs that endow us with tools and techniques that enable us to serve our patrons well. I could not care less about who has seen whom at such and such a conference or what so and so had for breakfast. Bother all such mind-numbing, self-absorbed twaddle. Let us act like adults, group. Not everything Web 2.0 is for us. We may need to know about Twitter as patrons may ask us about it. But we let us not go gaga over everything that is Web 2.0.

  10. Hope-

    I tried Twitter and didn’t see the value in it, but a whole bunch of people who I don’t think are narcissistic airheads are writing about it- that’s why I’m puzzled and was hoping others might help me understand why it seems so popular among bibliobloggers.

  11. So, I wouldn’t go so far as to say anyone who Twitters is narcissistic or an airhead. In fact, I can see how people might find this fun. And if my family were ever online or interested in such things, I could see keeping them updated with pithy little comments on what I was doing. But they aren’t. So I won’t. Yet.

    Although it looks like I could keep up with what Steve’s doing… so that might be fun. I like spying on people. πŸ˜‰

    Oh, and David, all I can say is: JINX! πŸ™‚

  12. I don’t plan to use Twitter, but it did get me thinking, again, about the limitations of my organization’s enterprise IM — there are only about 5 pre-set status settings but there is a “note” field. So I’m going to try it in a twitter-like fashion to explain that I’m online but on the desk so will wander away or whatever people have been doing with their status in AIM for years πŸ™‚

  13. As someone who is avoiding Twitter (for reasons I’ve mentioned elsewhere)…

    “…an inane plaything for narcissistic airheads who blithely assume that their banal doings are of intense interest to everyone in the world.”

    Doesn’t that also describe blogs? MySpace? Facebook? And, well, most of the internet?

    “Let us act like adults, group.”

    Not until I’m dead in the ground. Maybe not even then.

  14. David and all. Okay, I have now read some very thoughtful commentary on Twitter and agree that it is something we need to know about. David Lee King’s Twitter Explained for Librarians or 10 ways to use Twitter is an excellent analysis, for instance. But I don’t need yet another way to monitor the self-promoting ephemera of the Michael, Meredith, Steven and Steven, Jenny crowd. Like we care. And Joshua, yes, much of what is on the Internet is trivial. That is why we need to apply our powers of discrimination and employ time wisely. There is a good essay in the latest issue of The Atlantic about the vapidity of much of Web 2.0. As librarians, we do want to be able to assist patrons to use the latest technologies and we can’t afford to come across as fuddy-duddies. But often I get much more out of the non-librarian blogs such as those of the computer magazines than I do by the librarian blogs. The business periodicals often feature more substantive analyses of the new tools than do the Library 2.0 blogs, the writers of which seem childishly concerned with appearing cool and being referred to by one another. Twitter can be a useful tool. But instant messaging can eat up time better spent reading the latest issue of PC Magazine.

    Thank you, David, for providing a forum for such discussions as these.

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