Of tweets, chats and Internet highways

I need to turn my back on old ways.

So how much is too much information? I’ve been thinking this since setting up a Twitter account a couple of days ago. So many people have so much to say in short bursts. Links, photos, more links, short musings, even more links,… Total information overload. In shorthand.

But I got the hang of it, sort of. That’s until 4:15 p.m. my time, when I logged into the Tweetchat. It was frustrating to wait to see posts and to have to switch back and forth between the chat page and my Twitter home page. I saw the posts on the latter though apparently they showed up on the former. I’m guessing it was a speed issue. It seems tweeting makes sense when you have fast, reliable access. This can be a problem with our part of the world sometimes when Internet access is slow and unreliable. No wonder we’ve struggled with a digital divide.

It was consoling to read a tweet that talked about people enjoying Facebook more on first use compared to Twitter. An interesting statistics from Le Roux talked about a fraction of Twitter account holders being active contributors and participants. I haven’t verified this, but from my own experience, I can relate. Making posts about various things seems like too much self-exposure. After all, who cares?

But apparently, some people do. I’m following 22 people so far, folks in entertainment, journalism, politics, blogging, and my online J class. From them, I’ve linked to great photography (saw some nice sunrises), articles about journalism and heard about creative types on the African continent. One blogger – Kenyanpundit– has provided lots of updates ranging from job openings to books she’s come across. True, she’s worth following because of the wonderful things she’s doing in creating a well-informed digital citizenry. She’s also living proof that if there’s anything that will equalize those in the global community, it’s going digital. Find out why in this interview.

But it’s not all profound. Tweets about braids and queueing at a bank are mixed in there with updates about job openings and information about books she’s come across. It’s all very different from the more linear, well-developed content that fills my world. I came across a great blog post – ‘Rethinking our thinking’ – that talks about this. I found it through following Mindy’s tweets, so there is some good in Twitter after all. So this old journo (and I’m not that old!) will have to learn a few new tricks + change her thinking to be able to teach upcoming journalists to work in this new world. Another great thing about Twitter: it’s a great tool to teach how to write hard news leads. Capture the essence of what you’re saying in 140 characters. If that doesn’t teach you how to quickly get to the point, I don’t know what will.

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