Saturday, May 11, 2013

23 mobile things - Twitter

Mobiles and libraries - topics occupying my mind a lot at work lately! So it's great timing that the Australia and NZ 23 Mobile Things has come along. I'm planning to examine one thing each week for the next 23 weeks, and to reflect on it here.

The first thing is Twitter, and I'll start with a history of my use. At first I was uninterested. I had a look when it started to take off and thought it was full of inane, uninteresting 140 character tweets about boring details of people's personal lives. People I didn't know. But then I started a serious-sounding subject at Curtin University called Information Management Technology and my lecturer Kathryn Greenhill set  learning how to use Twitter as our first assignment, so I was forced to take a closer look.

Actually, I'm glad I did. As an external student (I started the course while living in Japan) I found I had an instant network of people who were interested in libraries and information just like I was, and posted not just comments, but also questions, answers, links to library news, blogposts and reports and all sorts of other things. I started to see the value in it.

I was using Twitter at the exact time of the massive earthquake in Japan that resulted in the deaths of thousands of people and the nuclear catastrophe at Fukushima. I felt the earthquake, rushed outside until it subsided, then went back in and tweeted it. Less that a minute after the earthquake, my fellow students in Australia had heard the news. When other types of communication failed in the aftermath, Twitter was used by people to contact relatives and friends, and for emergency services to direct people, especially foreigners, to safety.

Now I use Twitter pretty much every day to see what's new and to feel connected to the library world. I have to admit that I lurk more than I post, and more often than not that's a retweet. One of my new year's resolutions was actually to tweet more! After exploring Twitter again as part of 23 Mobile Things  I've starting using lists to filter my Twitter stream.

The academic / health library I work at doesn't use social media (yet!). I'm informally gathering ideas on what kind of things libraries tweet about. There's a good list on the 23 Mobile Things blog, most of which I think would be relevant for my library.