Elisabeth Goodman Using Twitter to manage information
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By Elisabeth Goodman

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Abstract

Twitter was founded in March 2006 as a social networking and microblogging service, inspired by taxi drivers, couriers and limousine drivers’ use of dispatch software. Each Twitter user (Tweeter or Tweep) has a unique username, which is referenced in "mentions", "retweets" and direct messages. Although limited to 140 characters, tweets can be enhanced by including links to blogs, websites, videos and more.

Item

Twitter was founded in March 2006 as a social networking and microblogging service, inspired by taxi drivers, couriers and limousine drivers’ use of dispatch software. Each Twitter user (Tweeter or Tweep) has a unique username, which is referenced in "mentions", "retweets" and direct messages. Although limited to 140 characters, tweets can be enhanced by including links to blogs, websites, videos and more.

To work well, Twitter takes the form of a conversation between the Tweeter and their followers or those they follow (their "followees") in a dynamic and limitless push-push exchange of information, inspiration and interaction. Ideally, the information will be of interest to followers, will inspire them to adopt and act on new ideas or new ways of working, and will enhance interactions between individuals both on and off line. Through these principles, Twitter could act as the ultimate knowledge management tool in your toolbox.

Twitter can act as an electronic directory through its inclusion of user profiles, and the Twitter directory Twellow, which boasts nearly 24 million members.

Communities of Interest can be supported through the use of lists and keyword hashtags (#hashtagexample). Twitter lists can help you to focus on specific categories of followees, and keyword hashtags can support discussions on particular themes.

The ability to "crowdsource" insights and ideas, and to use Twitter as a form of online diary, can facilitate learning “before, during and after” both outside and within organisations. (The latter is supported through such tools as Chatter and Yammer.)

Various managing strategies and tools are available to those who find the endless Twitter feed difficult to cope with. Lists can be periodically browsed to break down the volume of tweets to read through. Front-end tools such as Hootsuite and Tweetdeck make navigating between lists easier and provide other facilities such as forward scheduling of tweets to increase the chances of your tweets being seen. Searching and back-up or archiving tools are plentiful (and perhaps even warrant a FUMSI article to themselves).

For those who are still not convinced, it might help you to compare your expectations of what you can achieve using Twitter with busy networking events, or multi-stream conferences. In these situations, you aren't expected to monitor absolutely everything; only a certain number of inspiring discussions or enlightened new contacts might be expected.

Twitter may or may not be the ultimate in knowledge management, but it is certainly a tool to consider within the mix of social media tools available for your total knowledge management toolkit.

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