How to use Twitter + Track

OK, so this will obviously actually be about how I use Twitter, and certainly not a prescriptive set of instructions outlining the “one true way” to use the service(s), but you’ve got to admit that this title is a bit more attention grabbing – and Twitter is all about attention, after all. ;-)

Anyway, here’s the basic outline of the way I’ve got things set up to meet my needs for regular Twitter usage:

  • For the people I follow and from whom I want to read everything, I have them set with IM device updates on, so that their messages flow into the jabber gateway (acessed via Google Talk – the web client, not locally installed).
  • Then (in GTalk / jabber), I “track” things like my name and randomly add and remove other subject-based words and phrases to track, depending on what I’m interested in at the moment.
  • Since I’m usually not connected via IM for most of the day, the above two steps result in an e-mail message in my inbox periodically with an easy to read summary of everything that would have come in on Google Talk, had I been logged in.
  • For everything else (people I’m not including in the above method – whether I’m “following” them or not), I add the RSS feed of their Twitter account to folder/tag in Google Reader that I just let pile up, and read it whenever I  feel like it, and clean it up without reading if it gets too big. I might investigate further subdividing (or cross-filing) these into various folders/tags to make it easier to sort through depending on what I’m interested in seeing at any given moment.

And that’s about it. My usage patterns have changed over time, even since I so recently began using it, and I’m sure they’ll continue to change as I go. So far, I’ve found that the above techniques allow me to fairly easily throttle the flood of incoming information into something manageable that I can digest, and also that I can tweak at any given time to give more or less content.

There’s a lot more to say about Twitter itself, ranging from the technical to the sociological / philosophical, and I’m realizing as I write this that I haven’t really mentioned it much before here on the blog. I’m thinking maybe I won’t, since I think it might be a mistake to try to wrap it in very hard-lined boundaries this early in its evolution as a platform. While I’m certainly not turning into a raging Twitter evangelist, I certainly was once very skeptical about it and am now realizing how vastly better / more disruptive it is than any of the other up-and-coming social network platforms (Facebook, Pownce, etc.).

So, if you haven’t already, check it out and find out how it works best for you. If you give it some time, you might grow to appreciate it (even and especially the character limit constraints). You can follow me using the link at the top left of this page.

As a teaser, Twitter, along with my other various content sources, will shortly take a more prominent role here on my blog. It’s something that I’ve been planning for a long time, but only recently started working on. More to come…

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One Response to How to use Twitter + Track

  1. Jason Brooks says:

    Great Jared. You did a great job of explaining this to me yesterday via email. Nice to have a post to send people to that want to further expand Twitter’s reach into their digital lives. so to speak.

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