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All atwitter over a hundred ‘tweets’ Blogging, Podcasts, PR musings

Whether you know it or not, you’ve been “tweeted.” One hundred times. By us.

Now, before you lodge a formal complaint with the Center for Student Conflict, you should know that to be on the receiving end of a “tweet” isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

A “tweet” is a short message sent via Twitter, a social-media tool for communicating with your “followers” (friends, family, co-workers . . . complete strangers, stalkers and psychopaths). And by short, I mean reeeeally short. Messages are limited to 140 characters or less. That’s characters—letters, punctuation, spaces—not words (a practice sometimes also referred to as “micro-blogging.”)

You can choose to receive “tweets” as individual text messages sent to your cell phone or as instant messages, or you can read them collectively online.

The first “tweeters” started “tweeting” in 2006 as a way of letting others know what they were doing. Since Aug. 11, 2008, when RIT University News sent its first “tweet,” more than 200 “followers” have signed up to receive our news “tweets” (a typical one might include a short news or sports-related headline with a link to a longer story).

Lately, University News “tweets” about once a day—and this week we reached the 100 “tweet” milestone!

A few words of caution about “tweets” (other people’s, of course, not ours):

Beware the minutiae. Some “tweeters” share a little too much information. That’s why we’re “followers” of only about 30 fellow “tweeters”—mostly organizations, such as other higher-education institutions and news organizations, but not many individuals. (Going for coffee? Don’t care.)

Beware of “auto dump” from news organizations. This means you, R News, Messenger Post Newspapers and Channel 10. We’ve noticed that some news outlets frequently blast multiple “tweets” in rapid succession. Sometimes automated from twitterfeed, they appear, one after another, with identical time stamps. For example, right now our feed shows five consecutive “tweets” from R News—each posted “21 minutes ago.” You’re news organizations. Stop crying wolf, exercise a little news judgment and post only your top story or two.

No question, these complaints are tied to personal preferences. Perhaps you want to know when friends are going on bathroom breaks, or maybe you like rapid-fire news headlines (hey, it’s another reason not to read the newspaper, right?).

Personally, though, I’m in favor of everyone exercising a little more discretion. (To R News: Unless it’s breaking news, consider sending one an hour.)

On the other hand, perhaps you want more from University News. There is no “right answer” for how often to “tweet”—but would you like to hear from us multiple times a day (perhaps each time a new story, blog post or podcast is available)?

Let us know.

Lastly, a quick note about new podcast episodes:

Studio 86: Women’s Ice Hockey Shoots for NCAAs
RIT women’s ice hockey head coach Scott McDonald looks back on the regular season and ahead to this weekend’s playoffs.

Studio 86: Bush to Obama
Thomas Hopkins, professor of economics, discusses presidential transitions and the motivations behind outgoing presidents’ last-minute appointments and “midnight regulations.”

Have a great weekend!

  1. Brad Smith
    Mar 06

    right on mike

  2. Mike Saffran
    Mar 06

    I couldn’t have said it better myself (wait a second, I did say some of it above):

    Web 2.0 Etiquette: A Review

  3. Justin Thorp
    Mar 06

    Now Michael, I think classifying Twitter as a system for rapid fire of inane messages about when your friends are taking bathroom breaks is kind of not fair and slightly condescending. Wouldn't ya say? When people take on participating in the social media status update fire house or what some call "the real time web", they're not really reading everything that's coming in. How people consume information has changed. More and more they're just going in, seeing what's happening right now, and then pulling back out again. Plus... I think younger generations are becoming better at taking on large amounts of information and filtering out what's signal and what's noise, so getting a handful of uninteresting tweets interspersed with interesting ones doesn't matter as much.

  4. Mike Saffran
    Mar 06

    No, Justin, I don’t agree. You’re misinterpreting what I wrote:

    Paragraphs 3-5: What Twitter is

    Paragraphs 8-10: How some people, in my opinion, misuse it

    Plus, you’ve mistakenly combined two of my remarks concerning inane messages from some people and rapid-fire messages from some news outlets. (If those taking bathroom breaks are the same ones rapid-firing updates on their, um, progress, then we’ve got bigger problems.)

    Additionally, I plainly acknowledged:
    • Everyone has their own personal preferences
    • There is no “right answer” for how often to “tweet”

    I don’t disagree about the need to filter out noise—I’m only advocating for a little less of it.

  5. Justin Thorp
    Mar 06

    I think some of those "inane" "bathroom break"-like messages are actually incredibly valuable. If I found out that a friend of mine was having a coffee down the street from, it allows for me to have experiences that I would have never otherwise had. It tells me that my friends like certain coffee shops or places. Also... If you heard a bunch of folks chattering "inanely" about RIT saying things like "RIT sucks. It did X." Isn't that worthwhile? You're getting a snapshot into the brains and thoughts of the masses. This allows you to respond to issues and problems in ways that you would have never would have been able to do otherwise. I can respond to problems minutes after they happen. Often folks sign up to Twitter just to talk to the world, I think they lose credibility. It's just as much about listening.

  6. Mike Saffran
    Mar 06

    “Inane” was your word, Justin.

  7. Joanna
    Mar 20

    A lot if it comes down to personal preference, like Mike said. Or perhaps I'm getting too old to filter out the noise... ;) But there does seem to be a lot of noise. I'd follow more people if they'd just talk a little bit less. What I find interesting is that I want and expect different things from different social networking sites. On Twitter, for instance, I just want useful, good stuff. On facebook, however, I'm happy to know that someone is off to a coffee shop or getting on a plane. Perhaps I see facebook as a personal site and Twitter as more of a professional networking experience.

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