May 17, 2009

Tweet, tweet, chirp chirp

When I logged in for my daily dose of Doonesbury today, I found Roland Hedley tweeting away with important messages for his follower base about the impending dismissal of his houseboy and whatnot. A few months ago I wouldn't have understood the joke; now I'm part of it. In February, my colleagues the Jenner sisters (Twin Translations) put a post on their blog about having joined Stephen Fry and other celebrities on Twitter. I was rather skeptical about the whole thing, being inclined to agree that this Web 2.0 "phenomenon" was blogging for those with ADHD. Recent endorsements by The Petshop Boys haven't done a lot to persuade me otherwise.

So why am I now GermanENTrans on Twitter? Rather often I've had short bits of news that I wanted to post to my blog, where there was neither good reason, nor sufficient information, nor time to make a "normal" post. A bunch of one-liners for stuff that might be valid for a limited time only would look really silly in the main text. Other thoughts also played a role, like being able to communicate availability or the lack thereof without logging in to and updating a dozen agency calendars (I'm asked to do this, but I ignore it, because it's an unreasonable waste of time I don't have).

Currently I'm only "following" a few people on Twitter, and I'm quite overwhelmed trying to keep track of that limited data feed. I don't send it to my mobile phone or any such thing, because the constant interruptions would be as bad as telephones that never stop ringing I think. I just log into my page once a day or so and scan for interesting tidbits. As you can see from looking on the left column of this blog, I feed my twitter posts to my translation blog, thus achieving exactly what I wanted in the first place: passing on short bits of information on (mostly) translation-related topics in an efficient, timely manner. Since I expect to have a lot of short messages regarding dog stuff in the future, I'll probably do a separate Twitter ID for that. I don't think there are a lot of translators out there interested in laying blood trails through the woods or dummy training.

At the ProZ powwow in Berlin recently, I met quite a number of other translators who have made Twitter part of their personal and professional communication toolset, including a number of old fogeys like myself. That's where I heard about hash tags and a number of other "insider tips" for the first time.

So is Twitter the crest of the wave of the future? I don't know and I don't care. It's accomplishing the limited result I want from it now with no bother, and that's good enough for me.


  1. Kevin, I'm on Twitter for pretty much the same reason. I feed it to my blog too. Twitter took a while to get used to, and I didn't use it properly during that time (posting double posts to cover a personal response to someone, rarely checking or using it, not responding to others). Things changed once I installed a plug-in in Firefox called TwitterFox. I am able to check my feeds a couple times a day and respond to people. I found once I started having a dialog more and more people found me - quality people, not the ones you complained about on my blog. I ignore those who are autofollowing me and concentrate on addressing my core audience - translators.

  2. Thanks for the tip on TwitterFox, Jill. I had seen the name in the feeds but had no idea what it was. I've installed it now, and it does indeed give me a better way of tracking things!

  3. Hey I just discovered there is such a thing as replies, and you apparently sent me one a while back, Jill. Not sure how they work yet (I'll Google it), but having them separated on a tab in TwitterFox makes it easier to keep an overview.

  4. Hi Kevin,
    When first looking into all this Web 2.0 stuff, just by way of keeping abreast of things, I started following '@holadiho' ( who seemed to be an acknowledged expert in the field of Zen and the art of viral marketing etc.

    He raised the point in his blog that many seemed to 'unfollow' each other, calling it "Der Polnische Abgang". He wrote "Trotzdem fällt es vielen sehr schwer einfach hinzunehmen wenn bestimmte Leute ihnen einfach kommentarlos unfollowen."

    I unfollowed him, writing a polite note to the effect that he was clogging my Twitter in-box, whereupon he led me to a tool that his developers had come up with called 'Tweetdeck'

    As far as I can see, it certainly seems to have more capacity than Twitterfox.

    Give it a whirl.


  5. Tweetdeck? Hey, that looks like the projection screen from the Twitter presentation I saw a photo of the other day. I think Ms. Dillon was the presenter. Thanks for the tip - I'll play with it!


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