Twitter and Me

You probably heard–Twitter went public today. I’m not much of an investor, and goodness knows I’m not rich. Nonetheless, I spent part of my day seeing how the IPO went, mostly following the live blogs on Mashable and The Guardian.

Spent another sliver of my day tracking down my Twitter roots. You may know that a service called Topsy tracks the Twitterverse for topics you care about. What I didn’t know until today is that they will show you every tweet you’ve ever made! The good part of this is that it matches the memory I have of my early days on Twitter.

As I recalled, I learned about Twitter when friends from BarCamp Milwaukee and Web414 returned from the 2007 South by Southwest conference, where Twitter had a sort of coming-out party. Sure enough, Topsy told me my first tweet was on March 20, 2007 at 1:16PM:

Michael McCallister's First Tweet, March 20, 2007

Michael McCallister’s First Tweet, March 20, 2007

The next day proved a little busier:

Topsy's collection of @WorkingWriter's first tweets

Topsy’s collection of @WorkingWriter’s first tweets

Seven and a half years and more than 4200 tweets later, I’m still with the service. I go in spurts with posting, but unlike that first day, my tweets are more about sharing information, and not just about me. Back then, posts answered the question “What are you doing?” These days, it’s much more “What do you know?”

My long, if uneven, tenure on Twitter has helped build my authority online as a writer. I always recommend it as a way to keep up with what’s going on. Twitter’s role as a catalyst of the Arab Spring enhanced its reputation as a place where ordinary people can have a voice–if abbreviated to 140 characters.

Today’s IPO reminds us all, however, that Twitter does not belong to its users. The open source alternative, Identi.ca, hasn’t exactly gained a lot of traction over the years.

You are, of course, invited to follow me (@workingwriter) at both Twitter and identi.ca. Hope you find the feed interesting!

How do you use Twitter? Has it helped you in some way? Do you still think it’s a trivial place where strangers tell you what they’re eating? Were you once addicted, but gave it up?

 

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