Why Do I Tweet? I Do It for You

A good friend of mine, @jeffswain, over at the five-4-six blog, posed a really tough question and I’ve been asking myself ever since:

Back in the 80s in a railroad town with a declining population, all we had was a top-40 station, (eventually) classic rock station, oldies stations, and talk radio. And of the entire catalog of classic rock songs and oldies, it seemed like the stations only played the top 40 hits of the respective eras they covered.

It wasn’t until the 90s and early 00s rolled around that things got better. Kids started bands, and we went to shows. We shared mixed tapes. There was an alternative station that broadcast in Central PA via radio and Web. It was around through my college years and first real job. I bought a ton of CDs. I went to Rolling Rock Town Fair, and I went to Warped Tour. When the station changed formats to country, it all went down the tubes. I lost touch with music. I stopped buying music. I stopped going to shows all together. I lost the better part of a decade.

Then @ronbronson, @andrewcareaga, @radiofreegeorgy, @TimNekritz, and a few other Higher Ed Critics did their The Top 100 Albums of the 2000s, and I realized it was time to crawl out from my frickin’ rock. I tried my local stations. That top-station? Crap. That classic rock one? Now 80s hair bands. The oldies one? Now a mix of 90s and 80s with a side of country. No good station to speak of.

So here I am incommuting an hour to work, realizing that the “oldies station” that plays hits that I wouldn’t have listened to in the 80s and 90s is probably all my town has left to offer. (And they just played that Bryan Adams song again for the tenth time this week.) Then it occurs to me that I don’t really need radio to keep me up-to-date; I need you. I need @dtatusko‘s blips. I need Higher Ed Critics like @andrewcareaga.

What does this have to do with why I tweet? My department, my university, my town is a like local station. The Web has top-40 rock stars. Higher ed even has it’s own top-40. With twitter we can take our ideas and remix them. Share what’s new or unique. It’s great to hear what rock stars like Chris Brogan, Seth Godin, and Jared Spool have to say. But what’s even better is responding to @jeffswain, or sharing the blogs of @chasgrundy, @shelbythayer, @aprilsheninger, or joking with @brendensparks. Twitter is my playlist for insight and entertainment.

Who we follow, what tweet, and and what we retweet is like a mix tape that we share.  Twitter is not top 40 radio. It doesn’t have to play the same hits from the same rock stars 24/7, unless you want it to.  Every tweet peep is a garage band, and (@micala, @marleysmom, @DebraSanborn, @tsand, @3dogmcneill, @cmykdorothy, @joelgoodman, @cyndef, all of you) I am your groupie!

Why do you tweet? Who’s on your twitter “playlist”?

Image mix tape for matt’s bday by ramsey everydaypants

9 Responses to “Why Do I Tweet? I Do It for You”

  1. Says:

    Ah, a kindred spirit — and not just in musical tastes. I too grew up in an old railroad town where I hung out after school at the pool hall populated by fellow punks (i.e., hoodlums/juvenile delinquents) and Norfolk & Western pensioners. At night, my buds and I tuned in to the local top 40 station. Same situation, at least 10-15 years before yours, Nikki. ;)

    I love this metaphor. To twist it a bit more, I would liken Twitter to a mix of top 40 stations and underground college radio. There’s more, of course. Talk radio. All-day advertising stations. Etc.

  2. Says:

    I was pretty late to start using Twitter compared to a number of my friends. I thought it was silly and couldn’t image what I’d use it for. Now after a couple years of using it, I know the answer to that question. I use Twitter for a number of reasons.

    I use twitter to feel connected professionally with instructional designers, e-learning developers, and Student Affairs professionals. I use it to follow conference hastags to see what interesting discussions are happening and to see if I might want to go next year.

    As a department of one, I can stay connected with peers all across the University and in some cases across the nation. I bounce ideas of my followers, ask for help and feeedback, share information, give help and feedback when someone asks. An example of this, @NikkiMK and I just recently met to discuss common issues that we have and are going to be working together to figure some things out for both the Library and Student Affairs. This probably wouldn’t have happened without Twitter. Penn State is huge. Twitter helps make it feel a lot smaller.

    I use Twitter in my job. I use it to post information for the cocurricular learning program (EDGE) that I run. I post reminders about 3-4 times per week about upcoming events, courses, new modules, and other news. It is slow moving right now with only a few followers, but I have hopes it will catch on as we market EDGE in other way in the coming months.

    I use Twitter as an RSS feed of sorts or as a social rating system. If I see that individuals I respect have tweeted something, I am much more likely to check it out and bookmark it in del.icio.us to check out later if I don’t have time to read immediately. It could be news, work related information, something funny, or something touching. @JamieOber is my personal weather guy.

    Beyond work related reasons, I also use Twitter to socialize. Even though I have been at the University for over 15 years now and know a lot of people superficially, I feel more connected with people than I ever have and strangely, for what so many people say about Twitter being so superficial, on a deeper level. I’ve had several people that have gone from Tweeps to friends. I think that is the real value of Twitter for me.

    My play list has some similar names and some different ones (@NikkiMK, @micala, @DebraSanborn, @tsand, @JeannetteMarie, and @cmykdorothy, @chrismillet, @BrianAlexander, @cammybean), but mine also has group of women who make me happy with their banter and craziness, but also their support, intellect and womanly wisdom. They are known by their hashtag #knitpistols.

  3. Says:

    @andrewcareaga: Ah-ha! There’s the hidden similarity. I love the extension to the analogy. I must point out that I didn’t point out some of the obvious people I follow like my partner-in-crime @robin2go, the @eduguru (the higher ed jam band), and the brilliant former guru @rachelreuben (or is it “the artist formerly know as ‘eduguru’”?). These folks are great follows but I assume @eduguru and #heweb tweets know that it goes with out saying that I am following them.

    @aprilshenginer: Absolutely love that you have referenced the #knitpistols collectively by their hashtag. Twitter hashtag as group identity! It’s such a great way to be an individual and group at the same time. I also love seeing the overlaps and differences in our “playlists”.

    Using twitter to find ways that we can overlap has been really rewarding to me. What I like about Jeff’s post is that he was talking about his two communities mixing. To me, that’s exactly where innovation happens. Sometimes we don’t see that we share a similar problem because we have different roles and work in different units. Or because we are talking about work and leisure activities. Then we find that the solution used for a leisure activity can be applied to the workplace. Without collaboration, we’d never know.

  4. Says:

    And just because… https://twitter.com/NikkiMK/statuses/10230246633

  5. Says:

    Hi Nikki,

    Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I’m aggregating all the video responses on my blog. You can see the entire playlist here five-4-six “Why Do You Tweet?”

  6. Says:

    Twitter has been a way for me to connect to and meet so many new people who share similar interests and a kindred spirit.

    It’s also increasingly apparent that I need to catch up to the 21st century and invest in a webcam so I can better participate in our community’s shenanigans.

  7. Says:

    As a fan of mix tapes, I’m digging this post and your metaphor. I still learn about cool music through mix tapes (well, CDs or mp3 mixes nowadays)… but I learn about new people through Twitter. And then meeting some of those people in person (like you, last year at eduWeb) is a really cool experience.

    Protip: I have a 45-minute commute and podcasts beat the heck out of local radio.

  8. Says:

    Hi All,

    I posted a second video question on the topic of “Why Do You Tweet?” Based on all the responses we’re beginning to look at the deeper meanings behind why we do this. You can see it here:

  9. Says:

    @brendansparks: Yes. You need a webcam. And you need to Skype us for thefakeheweb excursion.

    @chasgrundy: Thanks for the flattery. I enjoy a good podcast or two myself. Maybe we can swap some recommendations, commuter to commuter.

    @jeffswain: Great stuff! I’m looking forward to more of these questions in the future.