Sep 28, 2009

Four months of Twitter

Last May I finally decided to become a tweeter on Twitter (or a twit some might contend). Four months on, my use and perceptions of that medium have changed little. I follow few and am overwhelmed by those feeds , so I simply can't imagine how anyone following hundreds can pan the gold out of all the mud. Major filtering tools I suppose. However, I am finding it an interesting channel of communication, particularly with colleagues and strangers who go light on the self-promotion and details of when they take showers and point me to interesting resources. I also appreciate the pointers to news I might otherwise miss.

It's a medium that is clearly abused by some. I killed one feed, because the woman writing it seemed to be intent on retyping an entire book of crappy aphorisms. Multilingual feeds in languages that I don't understand are occasionally frustrating (and I'm sure some reading my feed feel that way about my German tweets), but it's also fun to puzzle out the odd tidbit of Portuguese or Italian with no pressure. Lately I've been getting spammed by "nice" girls offering themselves for sale, and I wish I knew a way to block nonsense like that and not restrict others with reasonable intentions.

On the whole I think that Twitter has been a worthwhile addition to my communication toolset. I'm not sure where else I could get a bunch of good, fresh tips on children's book reviews and publishing like Carsten Peters (calutateo) provides or follow the tasteful reading lists of others. Since I'm not selling anything at this point (plans for a technical book have been delayed indefinitely due to surprise developments in the technology in the past year), I can't confirm or refute any of the claims of Twitter's importance for marketing, and I really don't care about that point. I'd rather trade work philosophy one-liners with colleagues, point to useful sources for self-education and have a bit of fun.


  1. I couldn't agree more. I am enjoying it for the most part too. It is nice to hear other peoples' viewpoints on translation issues, and I am definitely more in tune with what is going on in the industry. And I promise never to tweet TMI like when I take my showers ;-)

  2. Hi Kevin,

    I don't knoe the 'Echoton' app that you apparently use.

    In Tweetdeck, there are four buttons beneath the photo on each Tweet.

    Lower right one: 'Other actions' User/Block and report spam.


  3. I use Twit for publishing info on the jobs I do as I complete them to give potential customers an idea of the range of work I handle. This list also appears by magick on my website and Proz. I can also easily copy the list to an Excel file if I feel the need.

    Whether this is all a good thing or not, I couldn't really say. What baffles me is why I get 'followers' who sell things like earring hole plugs for punters with a penchant for decorative self-mutilation. They can't be following me for any legitimate reason that I can see, so I've tended to block them as they sign up. Is there some 'aggregational merit' system on Twit or something? "Bag as many hustlers like yourself as you can and get into network heaven"? Now I'm thinking about just letting anyone follow me who will just to see if it leads to anything interesting.

    I find the business models behind so much Internet behaviour increasingly opaque, and I wish somebody would come over one rainy Sunday and patiently explain it all to me.

  4. @Rod: Funny you should mention online business models. Too many of them smell like MLM and remind me of the strange mix of old-time religion and naked greed one used to encounter in Amway circles. It seems every frat boy has a training program to teach you how to make millions with Twitter, Facebook, etc. At the same time, there is useful info out there on subjects that interest me, such as e-book marketing or value-added services (that work online or off), so I follow a lot of the good and bad information online stream with cautious interest. The tweets I sent some time ago pointing to tools for topic tracking or online reputation analysis were found in this effort. I can think of numerous legitimate applications of such for our modest freelancing.

    With regard to Twitter following, I track (on Twitter and via web logs) a few folk from the copywriting universe, because freelancers there have much in common with us and can be applied 1:1 for translators.

    @Chris: Echaton is the name that is used by TwitterFox now for some reason.

  5. Hi Kevin,

    Although I don´t have time to tweet or twit, I take note of your twits each time I visit your blog. There are interesting stuffs in your tweets. For instance, "Absurdity sharpens the mind: "<"So does this mean Trados has value after all?">".

    Well, we have to try making sense out of nonsense pretty often in our translator career. Trados doesn´t make sense for me, but many clients insist upon having their documents done with Trados. In fact, Trados makes sense only when there is no other choice. Fortunately, we don´t have to be with Trados all the time. There are some other tools or combinations of tools. For each project we find a most suitable one.

    As to marketing with Twit, I would wonder that it works properly. Making millions with Twitter or Facebook? For some gullible ones, maybe. At the end of the day, a freelancer won´t make millions. The sharks who manipulate media, maybe.

    We do need media, such as Twitter and/or Facebook. But beware, we need to make sure that we perceive the reality in a right way. There are people who manipulate media to desinform us so that we perceive a fictitious reality. We might be guided to misjudge what´s happening with our profession. We might be misguided to believe that we must follow the rules made by those big shots in our walk of living. It is always the same: We need to filter the information from media, including Twitter. And the filtering takes a lot of time and energy. I am glad to know that some people do find utility in Twitter and I profit from their insights from time to time.

    Vielen Dank für dein Schreiben in diesem wunderbaren/-vollen Blog!

    Ein schönes Wochenende!

    - Sylvia

  6. You beat me to the punch, Kevin! We've been on Twitter for about a year, and in general, we feel the same way you do. I do get overwhelmed with the hundreds of people who follow me, and I particularly dislike folks who describe themselves as "Social marketing rockstars" and "enabler of dreams" and "online strategy consultant." Their tweets usually don't add much value to me, so I have stopped following their updates. The tweets I find the most interesting are, not surprisingly, from fellow linguists and folks in related fields, such as language research, linguistics, literature, bilingual education, etc. I've read and learned great things on Twitter, and we try to keep the time we spend on it to a minimum -- Twitter can be a black hole. I have yet to look into good filtering tools.


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