Saturday, October 31, 2009

From Blogging to Twitter

There are moments in life that change everything, and people who are the catalyst for such change. Phillip is one of those people for me. David and Rachel are another two.

In late 2007 I was working on writing fiction on my old desktop computer. I couldn't get my computer to do the things I wanted it to, so my friend Larry, a retired philosophy professor at Portland State, put me in touch with his favorite student and friend Phillip, the man who understands all things having to do with computers and the internet.

Phillip worked with me for awhile trying to get my old computer to do what I need it to do and finally insisted I get an Imac. He said it was the best computer for a writer. He told me it's a more intuitive technology and more suited to the kind of work I was doing. He found the best deal for me and I bought the Imac and had it shipped to him. He set it up for me, loading it with every program I could ever want or need, plus a large collection of great movies. Then he shipped it to me and talked me through the set up. He is and always will be my Administrator.

During early January of 2008 my New York friends, Rachel and David, were in town for a visit and dropped by. They were delighted with my new computer and decided I must blog. I didn't know what a blog was. It was explained to me and within minutes I was a blogger.

It was the beginning of the political season and the field of candidates for the Presidential election was narrowing. I have always been a political junkie, so politics was what I blogged about. And low and behold I gained a small but growing following.

Now almost two years later I have a blog archive of 1,473 posts on Utah Savage plus six other blogs I manage and contribute to. I have a Netvibes account. I post my photo albums to my Picasa web album. I've received twenty two awards from other bloggers. I learned what a meme is. I became a blogging fool in the space of two years. I became a member of a blogging community. It was one of the other bloggers in my circle who first discovered Twitter. I took to it like a duck to water and before you know it I was neglecting my friends and ignoring my blog.

Now when I get up in the morning the first thing I do is tap the space key on my computer as I pass it on the way to the bathroom. And Twitter is the first place I go once I've let the dogs out and have my first cup of coffee in my hand. I have spent as much as ten hours at a time on Twitter and I've all but stopped visiting my blogging buddies unless I spot them on twitter. Time speeds by. It took two years to gain a following of a hundred other bloggers. It has taken only a few short months to gain a following of over 1,000 on twitter. Now I seldom see my blogging buddies on Twitter. They have not been bitten by the twitter bug. But I'm a full blown twitteraholic.


WendyB said...

I'm on Twitter too....I often wonder if it's just going to replace blogging. Even more accessible, easier, even more instantaneous than blogs. But you can't write anything meaningful or elegant there.Hmmm...

Nan said...

Your mention of 10 hours a day on Twitter is one reason I've avoided it. I fear its time-devouring abilities.

darkblack said...

When it stops being momentarily stylish, or ceases to serve your purpose...You'll so be out of there.


Suzan said...

How do you do anything on Twitter other than make short comments or provide links to essay sites?

Isn't it limiting to your writerly impulse?


giggles said...

Yes...those of us still in the bloggy 20th century world miss your visits!!!!! (I've been sucked into Facebook, but you will not find me twittering.... I wonder if FB and Twitter are flashes or if they will put an end to the bloggyworld? Blog chatter has slowed down, all 'round, without a doubt!)

Utah Savage said...

twitter is time devouring, but the idea that you can't say anything meaningful in 140 characters isn't true. It's true that many people don't know how to use twitter and so tweet music or tell us some meaningless detail of daily life. But twitter is a powerful tool for political discourse. And as to the writerly point, I'm learning to be very concise with the words used to convey my message.

The difference between twitter and facebook is one of the things that makes twitter so appealing to me. Facebook is for family and friends. Twitter is for millions of unknown adults to carry on a rather sophisticated political conversation. But you know me, I believe everything is political.

There are those not mature enough to do well on twitter. Not to put facebook down, but Sarah Palin doesn't like twitter because she can't control her followers. She is open to passionate disagreement with her "ideas" but can get away with all kinds of BS on facebook.

I think the blog will be a place to post elaborations of a tweet, but will cease to be a place to hang out. Twitter moves so fast. And I can converse with Melissa Harris-Lacewell and other brilliant minds that I would never have a chance to "meet." I follow WH press-corps, Rachel Maddow and many of her staff. I follow writers and agents. It's an amazing place, but has taken a tole on the blog world for certain. Or at least, my participation in it. I admit I'm thrilled to see you here and very interested in what you have to say. But I imagine all of you here would do very well on twitter. It's taken me 2 years to acquire a modest following on my blog. That might have a lot to say about me as a blogger. But I have almost 1,200 followers on twitter and it's only taken a few months.

And whenever I see one of my blogger friends on twitter I always retweet them and do my best to encourage others in my twittervers to follow them too. Darkblack appears now and then and it thrills me. I saw mathman yesterday and tweeted a cheeky greeting to him. I see PhoebyFay on twitter and now she visits regularly. But all the bloggers in my circle who were first to jump on the twitter bandwagon have now stopped tweeting. They were the reason I looked into twitter. But for some reason it grabbed my attention in a big way.

Utah Savage said...

Oh yes, did I say I have mastered the art of saying something meaningful in 140 characters. Disregard that long comment.

Yes, I see I now and then need room to roam in. I will, no doubt, keep the blog.

Elizabeth said...

I miss your blog. I check back now and then to see if there's something new. I'm on twitter too, but get bored with it.

themom said...

I must have a lot more to figure out on Twitter. I'm apparently not commenting properly to enter into a discourse. Basically - I don't understand the site well at all. I've enjoyed my blog immensely - now I've got voyeurism of FB as well. I need a life!

sitenoise said...

There are so many communities on the web it's not funny. It's not just FB vs Twitter, and I think you know that.

I don't post to Twitter but I like following a few people for their witty blurts and occasional good links.

The problem I have with twitter is the fucking ReTWEETS. I remember a dozen yeas ago, give or take, when everybody and their mother was first getting "on the email". Seems like the first thing they learned was how to FORWARD some really cool thing they found on the web, or some funny joke that was FORWARDED to them, TO EVERYBODY IN THEIR FUCKING ADDRESS BOOK.

ReTweeting seems like the same thing to me only it has a new name. I know that the intelligent folks on twitter aren't forwarding the "101 best metaphors from a class of 5th graders", but the principle is the same.

It's lazy. If you've found something interesting, make it your own and tell me why, in your own words.

ReTweets are as ugly looking as a forwarded email message. I like my reads to look good as well as mean good.

If the community you've found is Twitter, well tweet away. Your blogging buddies will understand. It's not like you've un-friended them on Facebook.

Utah Savage said...

Phillip, I remember the last time I saw you on twitter was the day I learned to retweet. I understand what you mean, but the utility of the retweet is that it moves a bit of news quickly throughout the twitterverse. For instance, I called my congressmen to express my support of a public option in healthcare reform. The only Utah democrat's staff member who answered the phone hung up on me when I said the words "public option." I was stunned and infuriated. I found Rep Matheson's site and sent him a tweet to express my outrage that the only democrat from Utah votes like a republican & won't be getting my vote next time. My tweet was picked up and retweeted by about ten different people who's networks are much broader and more numerous than mine. So, to my way of thinking this makes twitter and the retweet a powerful tool for outrage, change, and movement politics. But I do agree that the retweet is over used and used more to gain new followers than it is to spread information.

anita said...

i've always read that if you really want your representative (federal, state, local) to pay heed to your story, your request, your cooncern, whatever, your best bet is writing a letter. yes, a letter. a letter printed on paper, with the appropriate salutation, which shows respect for the person's office, and with a cogent argument spelled out and backed up by facts and figures (if need be).

The e-mail letter may get a little bit more attention if it, again, is cogent and bears the mark of a sane person; but tweets are onsidered just venting, they get very little serious attention.

tweeting, i guess, creates instant community, which good. yet i fear for the damage it is doing to the english language and the ability of people to think and write critically when necessary.

i never, ever respond to text messages on my phone that read:

how RU? or any variation thereof.

ok. vent over.

Lisa said...

I see you tweeting and I marvel at your ability to pick up the technology and run with it. There's a certain instant gratification to Twitter and Facebook that blogging lacks. If it's about the writing, then blogging is where it's at. But if it's communicating about all sorts of things quickly and with lots of people, then it seems you've found your niche.

Tweet on, Utah.