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Have You Heard About Twitter Yet?

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You may be too busy worrying about workplace issues to have heard of Twitter, but I hope to introduce you to a whole new way of receiving and delivering information — as well as having fun. With this post, I introduce you to a new Twitter feed focusing on workplace stories, where links and commentary are delivered in bite-size chunks: 140 characters, to be exact. Too busy to follow and read blogs and your favorite news sources online? Twitter can help you digest information more quickly.

So what is Twitter? Many Twitter users have struggled to explain Twitter to non-users — it’s more an experience thing. Twitter was founded by Evan Williams, who also founded Blogger, which was used to create this blog (and literally millions of others) over 5 years ago. (I still use Blogger, in fact, although I may be making some changes soon.) The basic premise of Twitter is this: What is your answer to the question: What are you doing?

When I first heard about Twitter, I thought that it couldn’t possibly be very interesting, as the mundane details of most peoples’ lives are not terribly compelling to me. If you’re a Facebook user, it is theoretically similar to your Facebook status, which keeps your friends updated about what you’re up to. (For the hard-core geeks among us, it’s actually possible to have your Twitter status update in Facebook.) That in itself can be handy: a friend recently reminded me that we were able to see each other while traveling in Atlanta (even though it’s challenging for us to see each other in the DC area where we both live), because we had both posted that we were spending a few extra hours in Atlanta. When my mom was ill recently, word quickly spread without me having to contact a number of people.

But what really makes Twitter interesting is learning about what people are reading and doing. Instead of reading postings from dozens of blogs, which I’ve lost the ability to keep up with, I see in a short sentence or two whether a particular blog entry is something I’d like to read. If I’m not sold by the description, I quickly move on. Your Twitter friends can help you find the needles in the haystack that the Internet has become.

Another asset of Twitter is that you can choose your friends. Twitter provides a running list of your friends’ posts — similar to a news feed. You can choose who to “follow,” so that their updates appear in your feed. You see one of your friends engaged in what appears to be an interesting discussion with someone else. You then look at the other person’s feed, and decide that you want to follow them as well. You can quickly build up a larger list of people you follow, so that your stream is an ongoing source of interesting dialogue and commentary from people you know (or want to know). If it doesn’t work out, and you decide you don’t want to see a particular person’s feed anymore, then you stop following them: it’s as simple as that.

So where do I sign up? you say. It’s easy and free: just go to Twitter.com, and set up your account. It literally takes only a minute or two. Here’s the fun part: add @Qworki as your friend by deciding to follow me. That’s my employment-related updates. I just started a couple of days ago, but plan to keep that up on a daily basis if I can by posting the most interesting new articles and other random thoughts. (If you’d like to follow my personal feed, it’s @pbrantner. It won’t be focused on employment issues, but you can see who I follow and get a better sense of how this all works.)

I look forward to seeing how this new technology can be used to deliver the information you’re seeking — inexpensively and effectively.

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