A Twitter life…well half decade :)

So this week I received this out of the blue on Twitter;

To be honest its a bit of a sham – like alot of people I signed up without really much of a clue about the service back then and after sending the standard first tweet..


..I followed a few people and really just watched it for a few months without really grasping it and it wasn’t until a couple of months later that the addiction kicked in. It wasn’t until December that year that I really started to get the hang of things.

The first person I ever followed was Tara Hunt (@missrouge). At the time her writing influenced alot of my thinking – things like ‘whuffie‘, ‘pinko marketing’ and ‘barcamps’ sounded weird even for those web 2.0 times – she also introduced me to the idea of ‘co-working’. Alot of that stuff has stayed with me over the years but I haven’t actually followed Tara since 2009 now I think. Initially I followed quite a few of the great & good from Silicon Valley but I soon became tired of the ‘web celeb’ thing and try to avoid it as much as possible.

The person I have followed longest is Andy Powell (@andypowe11). I think Andy may even have still been at UKOLN just about at that time but he soon moved to Eduserv. I’ve met Andy quite few times over the years but am pretty sure Twitter was the first place we ‘spoke’.

Blogging and Twitter helped me get my job at Jiva, gave me the opportunity to do amazing things like travel to Barca to blog about Mozilla and introduced me to more brilliant people than I could mention. Professionally it has become an invaluable community but also for the 1st time I met people who shared my tastes in TV, comics, movies and music *and* people who I could talk rugby and lower league football with.

Twitter made me *much* more politically aware – although weirdly maybe hasn’t changed my politics. The majority of those I engage with regularly on Twitter are considerably further to the left than I but their passion has often been inspiring if occasionally bemusing!

I’ve watched with admiration while Twitter has been used as a tool to make real changes in the world, watched its role in breaking news get misreported time and again, got that feeling like when a band suddenly becomes famous and the cool kids desert them when Stephen Fry popularised Twitter in this country (and changed it forever) and seen the tabloid media slaughter hard working people just because they were easy targets. Throughout all the Premierships footballers, pitch-fork wielding mobs and hashtag hijacks I’ve still enjoyed knowing that it was there and making my own inane contributions.

Unlike alot of my peers I never thought like this

I always thought of Twitter as a product someone owned and sooner or later there would be a price to pay and at that point I’d have to decide whether it was worth paying [if not with cash then with other …intrusions]. It does seem that there is every chance that might come to a head soon.

So given my relatively well documented inability to stick at anything (well mainly jobs!) five years is a pretty major achievement so ‘cheers!’..

5 responses to “A Twitter life…well half decade :)”

  1. And you didn’t even mention the impact your enthusiasm for all things soc media had on us, the comms JISCies! That first conference when you persuaded us to use Twitter when most of the tweets were from us and 99%of the delegates either had never heard of it or thought we were mad… And look what you have done to me along the way! The divorce lawyers will be in contact with you …

  2. I like to think my introduction of you to Twitter mainly gave you something to do at gigs before the bands come on 🙂
    Part of the talk I gave on Wednesday was a compare and contrast between an organisation that was was a [little too] early adopter (JISC) & a risk averse organisation still finding its feet (MRC). Its amazing how many of the conversations about Twitter professionally haven’t changed in those 5 years!

  3. That’s a coincidence. Andy Powell was also the first person I followed; his first tweet in here:


    It’s been interesting seeing how Twitter has slowly crystallised a layer of connections in the HE digital research community in particular. Researchers having casual online and public conversations with the people who fund them, and may fund them in the future, being one facet of this.

  4. I think the open conversations thing between researchers etc & programme managers at places like JISC/TSB/Nesta has often worked very much like I would have hoped in those early social media days. Relationships have been built & ideas shared but in a pretty casual kind of way. It remains quite different at places like the Research Councils though – much more controlled and less open.

  5. That’s an interesting point, the difference between e.g. JISC and the Research Councils. Interesting in longer post/more detail on that.

    The twitter-blurring between local government folk and other sectors, especially socially, also intriguing. Just been harvesting and analysing the online/public data and content around #unicornpub, a post-wedding social event from last night. It’s quite astonishing, the connections emanating from the attendees; many people in the UK education, government, technology and research sectors who tweet will be directly connected to one or more of them. Possibly our generations Bullingdon Club photograph – but with much nicer people 🙂

    Six degrees of separation? Not in a post-twitter world…

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