Twitter for Beginners

February 26, 2009 · 3 comments

I joined Twitter a couple of days ago (you can follow me at http://Twitter.com/niceguyted) and have been trying to figure it out in the little bit of spare time I have that’s not devoted to work, The Quixotic Jedi, and other stuff.  A few minutes of Google searching yielded some pretty crappy results – I had to dig a bit deeper than I expected to really find some good stuff about how Twitter works and what the dos and don’ts are.  There are a few links between my reviews below that you can check out, but I’ll give you the rubies I found in Google’s mountain of rocks first:

Twittercism – it’s a blog all about Twitter.  And it’s brand-new.  Twitter itself is probably around a year old, and most of what I found at the top of the Google heap is old – a drawback to Google (and the subject for an entirely different post), because the sites I found first have been clicked the most.

Rubies

I subscribed to the RSS feed for Twittercism, and I suggest you do, too – if you have an interest in keeping up.  Way to pick a niche, Sheamus!

All the information I would want to disseminate to you, dear readers, about Twitter can be found in three parts:  Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

If click those links and read that content, you’re pretty much home free.  If you want to keep reading, great.

Rocks

The only friend-finding search engine I’ve found for Twitter that seems to be of any use at all is Twubble.   It searches for common people being followed among the people you’re following – e.g. “Jimmy and Johnny both follow Lance Armstrong, Robin Williams and CNN News”  Not much good for those of us just starting out – it needs data to crunch and if you’re not following anyone, twubble has nothing with which to work.  I found this here, which has a decent survey of Twitter friend-finding engines – though I didn’t find any of the other sites listed very useful: 

  • TwitterLocal searches for other users by geographic location (you have to download TwitterLocal Air, though – it seems a bit too involved for my beginner tastes).
  • TwitterWho uses Twitter’s people search (which was apparently down when I tried it) – I don’ think this is very useful – it’s searching for email addresses and people’s names:  in the age of usernames and cyber-egos, these unique identifiers aren’t the same as those we use in real life.
  • Twits Like Me is idiotic:  it searches for people with a similar username to yours.  No matches for niceguyted “You’re just too unique!”  I feel gross that my site now contains a link to it.
  • TwitDir seems like a great idea – search for the topmost followed twitterers, etc – but the site was down when I checked it.

Another post I found with a Twitter friend-finder survey was this one here

  • Twitter Packs wiki – seems to still be realtively young, content hasn’t become unwieldy (yet, but it has the potential to do so very quickly – not much of an organizational structure), last updated 1 week, 5 days ago (not good for a wiki), organizes into groups of subjects/topics called “packs” e.g. topic, interest, location, etc.
  •  Tweetscan – dead link?  wouldn’t load for me; again, another old post (04/2008).

My regular Google search also turned up TwitterTroll – “real time Twitter search engine” – very slow, received errors when I searched for “philosophy” and “da vinci” – not up to speed yet.

Nothing of interest via the Google Blog Search tool.  Surprising?

Meatloaf

The conclusion?  Twitter itself is still new enough that the follow-up technology doesn’t have much with which to work, so it just can’t be that good.  The best way to find friends on Twitter is already built-in to Twitter itself:  follow the people from your address book that are already on Twitter, and invite those in your address book that aren’t.  And mooch off your friends. 

There’s also a “Suggested Users” tab on Twitter’s “Find People” menu – not a bad place to start either.

I signed up the day before yesterday and only pulled a couple of friends from my gmail contacts list.  I found one or two others because I’ve heard them mention their “tweets” before and started following them. 

As I mentioned earlier, I just subscribed to the RSS Feed for Twittercism – a blog all about Twitter.  There’s also an interesting post on Twittercism about TweetDeck, which caught my interest because I’ve seen it mentioned in a few places (e.g. THE $@BS).

My next step:  follow everyone that my friends are following (for a little while at least), then use Twubble to narrow down the commonalities (which will probably be big-time news engines like CNN or zines like Boing Boing), then comb through and get rid of the stuff I’m not interested in.  I’ll need to spend some time following a shit-ton of people to actually figure out what interests me and what doesn’t.

I’ll keep you posted.

Thanks also to my friend Sabrina for her informative post about Twitter etiquitte, which you can view here.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

scott February 26, 2009 at 08:04

You gotta be tiwitten me

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BRIAN February 26, 2009 at 13:39

I still don’t get it…What is the actual point of twitter? What am I supposed to get out of it?

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