I’m a Johnny Come Lately to Twitter as I’ve mentioned on this blog before. I’ve got the zeal of a new convert. It was thus with great delight that I ran across Katrina Gulliver’s Ten Commandments of twittering for academics. It’s a worthwhile article, but I’ll only list the ten commandments themselves as well as my self-evaluation of how I’m doing.
1. Put up an avatar. It doesn’t really matter what the picture is, but the “egg picture” (the default avatar for new accounts) makes you look like a spammer. [I CONFESS I WAS AN EGG FOR SEVERAL MONTHS BUT FINALLY GOT AROUND TO AN AVATAR THREE OR FOUR WEEKS AGO, LUCKILY TWITTER CONVERTS EVERYTHING TO YOUR AVATAR IMMEDIATELY, SO IF YOU ARE JUST AN EGG YOU CAN COVER OVER A MULTITUDE OF SINS IMMEDIATELY BY UPLOADING AN AVATAR. IT’S VERY NEARLY A RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE’\]
2. Don’t pick a Twitter name that is difficult to spell or remember. [I WOULD ADD TO THIS THAT IT COULD BE GOOD TO PICK SOMETHING FAIRLY SHORT. MY OWN HANDLE IS MY NAME, @PETERKPOWERS, BUT THAT TAKES UP A LOT OF CHARACTERS OUT OF THE TWITTER LIMIT]
3. Tweet regularly. [DONE. I AM NOT YET TO THE STAGE OF ANNOYING MY WIFE, BUT SHE DOESN’T REALIZE THAT’S WHAT I’M DOING ON MY IPAD; I MIGHT ALSO SAY DON’T TWEET TOO REGULARLY, ESPECIALLY NOT IF YOU ARE LISTING SPECIFIC PERSONS. NO ONE WANTS THEIR PHONE GOING OFF CONSTANTLY]
4. Don’t ignore people who tweet at you. Set Twitter to send you an e-mail notification when you get a mention or a private message. If you don’t do that, then check your account frequently. [AGREED, ALTHOUGH I STRUGGLE WITH WHETHER TO CONTACT EVERY PERSON WHO FOLLOWS ME; NOT LIKE I’M INUNDATED, BUT I DON’T HAVE TONS OF TIME. I TRY TO ACKNOWLEDGE FOLLOWS IF THE SELF-DESCRIPTION SUGGESTS THE PERSON IS CLOSELY CONNECTED TO MY PROFESSIONAL LIFE AND INTERESTS]
5. Engage in conversation. Don’t just drop in to post your own update and disappear. Twitter is not a “broadcast-only” mechanism; it’s CB radio. [DOING THIS, BUT IT TOOK ME A WHILE TO GET AROUND TO IT. HOWEVER, I’M BETTER AT THIS THAN AT STRIKING UP CONVERSATIONS WITH STRANGERS AT PARTIES]
6. Learn the hashtags for your subject field or topics of interest, and use them.[OK, I DON’T REALLY DO THIS ONE THAT MUCH. EXCEPT SOME WITH DIGITAL HUMANITIES. I HAVEN’T FOUND THAT FOLLOWING HASHTAGS OUTSIDE OF #DIGITALHUMANITIES HAS GOTTEN ME ALL THAT FAR]
7. Don’t just make statements. Ask questions. [DONE]
8. Don’t just post links to news articles. I don’t need you to be my aggregator.[I’M NOT SURE ABOUT THIS ONE. I ACTUALLY THINK TWITTER’S AGGREGATOR QUALITIES IS ONE OF ITS MOST IMPORTANT FEATURES. FOR PEOPLE WHO I RESPECT IN THE FIELD OF DH, FOR INSTANCE, I REALLY LIKE THEM TO TELL ME WHAT THEY ARE READING AND WHAT THEY LIKE. DAN COHEN, MARK SAMPLE, RYAN CORDELL, ADELINE KOH, ALL OF THEM ARE READING OR IN CONTACT WITH REALLY IMPORTANT STUFF AND I WANT THEM TO PASS STUFF ALONG. I’D AGREE THAT JUST POSTING LINKS AT RANDOM MIGHT BE COUNTERPRODUCTIVE, BUT IF YOU ARE BUILDING A REPUTATION AT BEING IN TOUCH WITH GOOD STUFF IN PARTICULAR AREAS, I THINK POSTING LINKS IS ONE GOOD WAY OF BUILDING AN ONLINE PERSONA. ON THE OTHER HAND, IN THE STRICT DEFINITION OF THE TEXT, I AGREE THAT I DON’T REALLY NEED POSTS OF NEWS ARTICLES PER SE. I FOLLOW THE NEWS TWITTER FEEDS THEMSELVES FOR THAT KIND OF THING]
9. Do show your personality. Crack some jokes. [DOES TWEETING MY CONTRIBUTION TO INTERNATIONAL MONTY PYTHON STATUS DAY COUNT?]
10. Have fun. [TOO MUCH FUN. I’VE GOT TO GET BACK TO WORK]
Related note, I‘ve been having a robust, sometimes contentious, sometimes inane discussion about twitter over at the MLA Linked-In group. Be happy to have someone join that conversation as well.