Stemming Annoying Twitter Trends

December 5, 2009 § 2 Comments

Spammers are nothing if not creative. And the ways they invent to invade social media tools like Twitter threaten to ruin the party for those of us who are trying organically to build community there. Over the last few weeks, I have noticed a trend among spammers that I find particularly disconcerting: unsolicited @ replies.

I have received a several of these in the last week. Sure, I can block them, and that will prevent me from seeing their replies in my reply feed. But if this becomes a trend among spammers, I can see blocking becoming unsustainable. I’m afraid I will be forced at some point to protect my tweets, which is something I’d rather not do.

I don’t know what the solution is. I assume that people wouldn’t spam if it didn’t pay off in some way, so it seems that they get enough of a positive response that they keep on doing it. What worries me now is that people might start spamming malware with @ replies. The trend of accounts getting hacked and by proliferating malware through direct tweets is bad enough.

I know that Twitter is trying to proactively deal with spammers, but spammers are elusive and slippery. While I hope that Twitter can lock it down more, I hope that more end users get smart about protecting themselves and their friends. I mean seriously, I never cease to be amazed when I receive a direct tweet with a phishing link to an IQ test from someone who should know better.

There are resources, folks. Educate yourselves and be a good Twittizen.

Working the Network

March 29, 2009 § Leave a comment

Over my career, I have established quite a professional network. During the past two years or so, I have been able to apply online tools to stay in touch and manage my connections. This was fun a fun way to get in touch, but I always thought in the back of my mind that some day I will really need these tools for professional advancement.

Lo and behold, my department is being restructured, and today I find myself unexpectedly in search of employment. There’s no time like the present to see what LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter can do for me. So far, by day five since learning the news, the networks have mostly been useful for getting the word out and for friends and colleagues to offer encouragement and advice, for which I am exceedingly grateful.

The HR manager in my department encouraged me to get on LinkedIn and connect with people there. That is where recruitment is happening, she told me. Indeed, I have been reaching out to people there, finding professional groups to join, and searching for jobs.

Through my exploration of LinkedIn, I stumbled upon the Ning group for nonprofit professionals, the NP Forum. They are on Twitter and have a group within LinkedIn. There’s also Nonprofit Orgs, who is on Twitter, too.

Who knows? Maybe this blog will lead me to my next great opportunity. Hopefully there is a fundraising organization out there in Chicagoland that is looking for the perfect person to help build institutional memory and help track relationships with information technology. But I digress.

I hope to have a happy story here soon about social networking tools that will give courage to other job seekers out there. In the meanwhile, I take heart in hearing about other success stories.

Twitter Love and Potential

December 21, 2008 § Leave a comment

Some new (or relatively new) people and organizations have recently joined Twitter, and I’m glad to see them here. I look forward to seeing their tweets, and possibly nominating them for a Shorty Award next year:

  • Bitch Magazine — they’ve been on Twitter for a while, but just recently started tweeting in earnest (BTW, great you guys are here and are more active — I am a long-time fan. But I sincerely hope that you will soon start tweeting more content than just about your new Bee Hive giving circle. And this is coming from a fundraising professional.)
  • National Center for Lesbian Rights — the leaders of the Marriage Equality movement.
  • Walker Art Center — one of the best art museums in the world that happens to be in my home town.
  • Plenty Magazine — a green lifestyle magazine.
  • Calpernia Addams — America’s Transexual Sweetheart.
  • Sister Helen Prejean — Anti death-penalty activist and all around inspiration. She’s been on Twitter for a while, too, and has recently become a little more active.

There are some folks already on Twitter who I wish would be a little more active (including some friends of mine, @ecat, @squirrelguurl, @ggumlock, @calimex, and there are a few others I could name):

  • Jenny Holzer — while I understand this isn’t the real Jenny Holzer, Twitter is still a great medium for her truisms. Whoever is behind it, I hope to see more of it.
  • Peter Sagal — host of Wait, Wait — Don’t Tell Me. Would love to follow, but he’s so sporadic. Sagal seems to have a little more activity of late, so he may be worth following again.
  • United Church of Christ — my denomination. They tweet regularly, but I’d like to see a little more activity.

Here are some people I wish I could follow on Twitter:

  • Cornell West — it would just be so awesome if here were tweeting his spiritual genius and love.
  • Anne Lamott — writer and social commentator.
  • Ted Kooser — former US Poet Laureate.
  • Bill Moyers — journalist and public commentator.
  • Anne Matthewson — someone I follow over on Ma.gnolia who I think has a brilliant blog. She likes quotations, and I think Twitter would be a great medium for her.

There are others I’m sure I’ll think of that I’d like to see on Twitter. I’ll keep my eye out!

Shorty Awards

December 20, 2008 § 5 Comments

Now that I know about the Shorty Awards, I am spending a little time this morning thinking who I want to nominate in different categories, and what my criteria is.

I am finding that I like best the Twitterers that are smart (but I won’t follow you if you’re not, so I guess that goes without saying) have useful and/or entertaining content, and who don’t overuse auto-feeds. I like to see a little personality come through. Personal and practical, and any combination thereof. And for my vote, it helps if you have a sense of humor and that you occasionally interact with me (not to be too self-absorbed about it).

I might suggest to the shorty awards that they create a couple of categories:

  • Positivity
  • Writing
  • Community Building
  • Citizen Journalism (which I suppose could be lumped in w/ news, but the main stream news outlets are *very* different.)
  • Activism
  • Social Change
  • Reference and Libraries
  • Emergency Response
  • Creativity
  • Television

If these categories existed, I would nominate the following Twetters:

There are others who I think are great for these categories (and the categories the Shorty Awards have already established), too. If you want to more Twitter feeds that I think are worth following, check it out.

I might also suggest getting rid of the Personal category because it’s a little too mushy. And from what I can tell from the nominees that I checked out in that category, all of them would fit into another category.

I think the Shorty Awards are a great idea to inspire Tweeters to think about their content and how they are using Twitter. I know that it has got me thinking! I find myself nominating people using criteria that I use for my own tweets. I look forward to seeing who wins, and I look forward to finding more interesting people to follow.

Oversharing with Twitter and RSS

November 28, 2008 § 2 Comments

Last night I stayed up way too late playing with RSS feeds. Perhaps I’m a little slow on the uptake (not unusual for me), but I discovered a couple of new tools that allow me to use RSS technology to push out information to my Twitter followers and blog readers. And here I thought all the time that RSS feeds are a way for me only to collect information. Now I know RSS can be used as a way to share. This is a very exciting realization for me.

Yesterday, I discovered Twitterfeed, which allows you to set up RSS activity to feed into your Twitter feed. You can set up feeds from your blogs, your link sharing sites, including Facebook posts and tools like Ma.gnolia or Delicious, and probably some other sources that I haven’t thought of.

As a chronic oversharer (in more of a reference librarian kind of way, not in a TMI way), I immediately saw the usefulness. So I have set up four feeds; one from each of my blogs so that each time I make a new post it will automatically send out a tweet; one from my Facebook Posted Items feed; and another from my Ma.gnolia feed with all of the links that I tag with “reference”. I’m thinking about setting up a special feed there especially for Twitter link sharing. Possibly more on that later.

Hopefully, my followers will find this interesting and not annoying. These tools will no doubt increase my follow cost. This is a concept I find a little paradoxical. I mean, you follow people on Twitter because you’re interested in what they’re tweeting, right? I’m not saying more is better, but Twitter is an information sharing tool. Anyway, I hope that these feeds don’t become obnoxious.

I also figured out how to use some RSS widgets through my WordPress blogs. I set up my Twitter feed to update in the sidebars (that was kind of a “duh” moment for me), and I also set up some Ma.gnolia link feeds to update there. If you look to the right below the Meebo box, you will see my latest Ma.gnolia links tagged with “Social Change” and from my “Fundraising and Philanthropy” and “Development Research” groups.

These tools for me are just like Christmas; I find joy in receiving and sharing the gifts of information technology.

Following Proposition 8 Protests Today

November 15, 2008 § Leave a comment

While I haven’t been able to give as much time and attention to these protests as I would have liked, it is clear that the Internet has changed activism and grassroots organzing.

The nation-wide action was organized by grassroots movements in communities everywhere using Internet tools. I found the protest here through the Join the Impact website, which had resources and links to local websites, blogs, and Facebook pages. Word has been spread by Facebook, Twitter, and FriendFeed. I found many resources here in Chicago, including Chicago Against Prop 8, and the Great Lakes Against Prop 8 (GLAP8 – gotta work on that acronym).

Almost overnight I connected with old friends and made new ones, all of us in far flung locations acting in solidarity for marriage equality.

Today, I will be one of the featured livebloggers at the many rallies around the country.

All of the action and planning has inspired and reinvigorated me! I am eager to see the results of our efforts, and I will be sure to report on it here.

Twitter Election Feed

September 27, 2008 § Leave a comment

I have discovered another Twitter tool that has captivated my attention: The 2008 election feed.

Twitter has provided this brilliant platform that citizens can use to give their two cents about developments related to the 2008 presidential election. I discovered this while watching the debates last night. Not only did I find a handful of interesting people to follow on Twitter, following the feed allowed me to take the temperature of what the rest of the world was observing about the debates. People are actively using hash tags, which will enable you to more easily follow specific threads, but there seem to be some technical difficulties with this function. The hash tag links always seem to give me an error message. I can’t wait until they iron out the problems with this feature.

I picked up the feed again this morning to find some interesting news items and opinion pieces, as well as to hear the latest controversies, specifically about whether or not McCain muttered “horsesh*t” under his breath in response to Obama’s assertion that McCain wouldn’t meet with the Prime Minister of Spain. Fascinating stuff, let me tell you.

There is a lot of crap that folks are tweeting out there that you would expect from the lowest common denomenator. My overall assessment of this tool, however, is that it has the potential to encourage more people to talk to each other and debate the issues.

Perhaps even *gasp* across state and partisan lines. Now that would be exciting.

Watching the Election: The Conventions

September 6, 2008 § Leave a comment

Back in June I blogged about watching coverage of Clinton’s and Obama’s speeches as they vied for the top spot on the Democratic ticket. I had recently discovered Twitter, and I was finding that I was getting better information and insight than I was watching any analysis on CNN, CSPAN, or even PBS or NPR. Folks I follow on Twitter (including some news outlets) were posting links leading to further information, and I was getting better information on FriendFeed, Twitter, and FaceBook.

While watching the coverage of the DNC and the RNC, I again found myself infront of the TV with my laptop simultaneously following my friends on the social networks, and again, I found I was getting more insight and information from the Internet. It have to say that it was a lot more fun, too. The night that Sarah Palin spoke, FriendFeed, Twitter, and even my friends’ FaceBook updates lit up in response. The following night when McCain delievered his acceptance speech, my friend Stacy in Ohio and I were IMing eachother our observations.

There were people Twittering during both conventions. There were alternative news sources tweeting about all of the protests and the police activity around the RNC. I heard nothing about the police raids from CNN or PBS about Amy Goodman’s arrest or the raids on private homes in St. Paul. I learned this from the UpTake’s webcast and Twitter feed.

I am continually inspired by citizen journalism and the movement to reform media. The Chicago New Media Summit is coming up next week, and though I won’t be there, I am eager to learn about the outcome of that event. I’m hoping to learn about more alternative news services as the election approaches. Meanwhile, I’m planning on watching the election returns on The Daily Show’s Indecision 2008, as well as continuing to get information from my Twitter feed.

While I am discouraged by the political discourse that is reflected on mainstream television, I look to my social networks to be reminded that there is a majority of people in this world who, like me, want to get information out there about what is really going on in American politics, and raise the level of political discourse above the drivel that the conservative media is feeding us.

Watching the Election

June 5, 2008 § 1 Comment

Tuning into the coverage Clinton’s and Obama’s speeches last night, I must say that the best analysis was coming from Twitter. All of the major news outlets had uploaded their stories about the respective candidates, citing Clinton’s shortcomings and offering analysis about why she failed, and trumpeting Obama’s clinching the nomination.

What I had just watched on TV and what I was finding on the Internet just didn’t match.

I confess, I bought into the media hype like everyone else, and I was totally expecting Clinton to concede. I haven’t been paying attention to much of either her campaign or Obama’s, and I haven’t watched much of the debates over the last five months because I like them both and I can’t stand to see them get ugly at each other. I was excited for all of this to come to an end so that the dems could stop being so divisive.

I found myself surprised at my response when she did not concede: I was really delighted and proud.

I thought her speech was great, and although she didn’t offer an endorsement of Obama, I thought she offered some incredibly gracious words that over the long term may actually unite her supporters and his.

This was the story, and I was getting no satisfaction from the ready-made stories from the Wall Street Journal and the Associated Press. It was so obvious that the major news outlets had already written what they intended to publish, and it reflected what they had expected to happen, not what actually had happened. And live TV was not much better! The pundits were so confused and did not know what to make of what had happened. I was left very unsatisfied.

I was honestly getting better coverage and analysis from Twitter. I was more interested in the spontaneous reactions from my Twitter friends, to the news and to each other than anything the pundits had to say.

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