I have never seen the attraction of Twitter, never signed up for an account of even tried to understand why so many people seemed to enjoy tweeting their time away.
However, the first time I thought I should maybe change my attitude and take a second look at Twitter, was when I heard that Alan Rusbridger, the editor in chief of the Guardian Newspapers, was praising it’s media usage. The next time was when the Irish Times journalist Conor Pope told my students what a great research tool it was. And then when I met up with a good friend and wonderful journalist after Christmas, she told me about the unlimited resources Twitter seems to supply and what a great marketing tool it is, especially for freelancers like myself.
But no matter how many questions I asked her about Twitter, tweeting and threads, she kept telling me that the best way to learn about Twitter was to become part of the tweeting community. Not wanting to add another form of social media to the constant stream of information already bombarding my screen without doing a little research, I dug around on the internet and found a great transcript of a lecture held by Alan Rusbridger in 2010.
He talks about the changes the media has gone through since the very beginning with Guttenberg’s press. It has never been static and has always tried to find ways of expanding its reach, allowing the flow of information to extend further and be more divers. Rusbridger also convincingly explains the benefits Twitter has for journalism, emphasising that giving ‘everyone’ a voice that can be heard and can influence the media is possibly the truest form of journalism. After all, we all want freedom of speech and to limit the power of large media companies and their control over what we know and have access to.
So after reading the lecture and digesting the 15 points Rusbridger makes about what Twitter does possibly better than any other form of social media, I signed up for my own account, still not knowing how the whole thing really works. Two days in and I am overwhelmed with the stream of information that now floods my screen and mind. However I think tweeting is something that needs a bit of time to figure out. After all we all have our own unique way of communicating and it is a matter of finding out how Twitter fits in.
But since I figured out today what the hash-tag, hashtag or hash tag (#) actually does and means, I feel as if I am just at the beginning of a twitter-y journey, even if I don’t know where it will take me yet. But since I only have five followers so far, if I get lost it won’t affect too many.
So if you want to be part of my exploration this is me @JensineWall and my twitter-y-do.
I am sometimes giddy with the possibilities new technologies offer us for being better journalists: for reaching even larger audiences; for having more influence; for being embedded in the most astonishing network of information the world has ever seen or could ever have imagined.