photograph by Dani Simmonds
So I went ahead and joined Twitter, and I am currently quite twitterpated with it. I’m always a late adopter of social media and online social network sites, as I am with this 140 character restricted micro-blogging sensation. This is mostly because I don’t always assume the latest cool thing is actually going to be of any use to me. After plenty of waiting through, Twitter seemed like a mature enough idea to join in on the fun. Not that I’m saying Twitter is used for anything mature, but at least it has all grown up as a platform for fun. 😉
I know there are few of you who are just jumping up and down there in the back dying to ask the most important question: What does twitterpated mean? And most of you in the front are just too shy to ask, so I will try to define twitterpated for you. The Urban Dictionary does a very comprehensive job at a definition, but in case you’re more in the mood for the dummies version which makes just as much sense here goes. To be Twitterpated is to be aroused, intensely attracted, enamoured, smitten, practically in heat! That last version gives a clue to the origins of the term, and it is a very strange origin. Bambi introduced us to the word and it has since taken on a life of its own; Yes, I mean the cute forest creature Bambi. To see Bambi twitterpated, or at least in denial of the possibility of future twitterpation (did I just invent a new part of speech for a made-up word?), watch the video.
Now that the mandatory educational segment is out of the way let’s move on to the gratuitous linking.
Part of the attraction of Twitter was that the cool crowd were all there. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m always where the cool people are *cough*, so joining up was just a matter of course. Now I could put in whole directory of Twitter links here and name drop like there’s no tomorrow, but that would just be excessive, so I’ll stick to the important few.
Pearl is on Twitter. She’s as regular a visitor on this site as I can probably get, and always provides an interesting read. Her Twitter page is worth a look and very worth following because she links to a lot of useful, topical or just plain fascinating pages that I would never come across otherwise.
The illustrious Luciano has not spared Twitter his wisdom and it is a better place for it. Whether it’s thoughtful quotes, a friendly pointer towards a new book worth devouring, or just a heads up about the latest on his excellent site, if you have a brain and like to use it occasionally, follow his tweets to keep sharp.
Vishal‘s twittering makes this list to prove that nepotism is still alive and well, and because he posts very interesting snippets about hot tea 8) . That and all those strange things he finds to link to which I can’t be bothered to track down myself. To nepotism and laziness!
My sojourn into Twitter land has already borne fruit. In my short time as part of the noisy flock I have already discovered some treasures.
SmashingMagazine is a great resource on design and all things web that I have known about for a long time. But, I have never added it to my feed reader for fear of information overload. On Twitter though, I find them a joy, even though they point to both their own articles and others. The medium of tweets makes it somehow more manageable, and I’m discovering some excellent sites through their recommendations.
O’Reilly Publishing has a new blog and it’s all sorts of geek cool! Firstly it’s called O’Reilly Radar … Radar Oreilly, get it? It covers a good spectrum of topics from technology to business, the environment, education, and everything in between and beyond. Thought provoking stuff.
And if that makes you think Twitter is all serious and stuffy you might be right, because the most serious man in Galactic history is also there Darth Vader seems to like it on Twitter. When he’s not making threatening gestures towards his storm troopers, he’s musing about the everyday banalities of being the most evil despot in the known universe. Don’t you love a man in a black uniform?
The web was practically useless until someone invented a search engine, so you’ll be glad to know Twitter already has its own. The advanced Twitter search page is especially worth exploring. Not only will it let you do straight-forward text searches, but also restrict searches by various detailed criteria including geography. Learn to use this well because like all search tools it is a powerful weapon for both work and play, and considering the real time nature of Twitter, even more so.
Keeping within the 140 character restriction and the simple technology behind Twitter, there have been many attempts at organising it more using categorization and meta-tagging. On of the most successful attempts has been Hashtags which uses an old IRC convention(#) to add appropriate keywords to tweets to help collate similarly themed status updates. A very useful tool, and one I’m still learning about.
No site is an island, and certainly no social site. This is why something like Twitter needs to interface with regular people’s desktops on their computer if it wants to really become a lasting phenomenon. Twitter doesn’t disappoint in this area, with a growing list of Twitter clients, tools and miscellaneous applications to choose from. Most of these were created by people trying to fill a personal need so they vary greatly in technology and function. A wondrous box of toys to play with.
In the new world of social networks and user generated content, very few can afford to ignore the WordPress juggernaut. As you would expect there are a whole slew of ways to get your twitter account talking to your WordPress blog and for your WordPress site to talk to your Twitter account. I’ll stick to the few that I thought were the best as I consider what to use on my own site.
WordPress Twitter Tools is plugin suite by the ever active Alex King who has brought us many ubiquitous plugins before including such gems as Share This. What can it do? I lot, too much to itemise here in fact. If you want to connect up your blog and Twitter account, consider this as a serious contender for a solution.
The same goes for Lifestream, which is probably what I might end up using on my site in the future for it’s superior flexibility. It creates a lifestream page where various feeds from your external sites like Twitter or other blogs and social sites can be aggregated into a single listing. It also backs up all your past tweets to your local database which is a great solution for those who don’t like to completely rely on the immortality of free services.
When I started, a big bold subscribe to RSS icon was enough, but as all these social accounts grow, I also wanted a way to link to them prominently on this site so people can find their way there. One ready made solution for WordPress is the Follow Me plugin. It sets up a widget with tiny icons and text links to your various social accounts in your side bar.
That’s exactly what I had in mind, but for one, it’s not very pretty, and it doesn’t include a facility for a Xing account, which I do have. The only solution seems to be to spin your own text widget with manual links and custom icons. There are thousands of free social bookmark icon sets out there that you can download but none that excited me with a fitting style. The Vikiworks iconset came very close, but once again Xing wasn’t included, so perhaps I’m going to have to do this the hard way and make my own.
I’m still finding my way around the twitterverse and I like what I see so far. I’ve included what I think are useful resources above but I know there’s plenty more out there. If there are any Twitter-related links and resources you would like to recommend or share please leave a comment below.
To end I will leave you with a deep through from the wise owl. What do you mean what wise owl? You did see the video didn’t you? You must! It’s the greatest thing in sex education tapes since erotic Indian temple sculpture! There if that doesn’t get you lot to see it, nothing will.
Where was I? Ahh yes, the wise owl. The wise owl said, “Nearly everybody gets twitterpated in the spring time.” This can only mean I’m an early bloomer, because it’s not even Februaray yet and I’m twitterpated plenty.