Twitter accelerates the sharing of information by instantly connecting you to people regardless of location. (Photo Illustration: Bianca Müller, Kelly Graham)

Twitter: What's all the chatter about?

Not sure what all the fuss is about? You're not alone.

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Twitter can be confusing and overwhelming for many first time users. Its usefulness and features aren't intuitive. Like many students I talked to, Laura Cutmore says, "I don't understand it." 

Other students are like Brendan Manning who says "I have an account but have only used it twice since March 2010." They create an account but lose interest quickly when they can't figure out what it's for. 

But by implementing a couple of simple techniques, users can harness the power of Twitter to improve their everyday life. 

What is it?

At its most basic, Twitter is a way for you to easily gather a very personalized list of information that appeals to you. How many times have you been reading a paper, watching t.v. or listening to a radio station and wished that all of the stuff you didn't like would just go away? Well that's what Twitter is for. It's as if you have enough money to start your own station dedicated to only producing content you are interested in.

As Rebecca MacDonald told me, "it's a good way to stay on top of the news."

How does it work?

With Twitter you get to choose who you listen to. Often journalists, artists and friends that you find interesting don't post all of their work in one place, which makes it a pain for you to keep track of what they are doing and saying.

 

In the past if an author that you like was releasing a new book you'd have to get lucky and catch an article about it. If they aren't high profile your chances of seeing anything at all shrink to practically zero. But with twitter you can "follow" the author and be confident that you'll receive updates not only on new novels but anything else that they are up to including what they are reading. 

Okay you've convinced me, how do I get started?

First "follow" websites that you visit often. I'm going to pick one of my favourites at random - unews - for demonstration purposes.

 

(Direct link to presentation.)

Rinse-lather-repeat until you've added most of the sites you frequent. Then repeat the same procedure with the names of your friends.

Too much information!

After you follow a few people, you'll start to be inundated with updates. Don't panic. Twitter provides two functions to help you manage the flow of information. 

The first feature is called "favourites." Favourites allow you to mark tweets you find interesting so that you can refer back to them at a later time. This means you don't have to worry about following all of the links that are posted every time you check. When you have free time to read, you just pull up your favourites.

 

(Direct link to presentation.)

"Lists" is the second feature that is helpful in managing your information flow. Lists allow you to place people you follow into subgroups. They also allow you to browse through tweets by group so that if you don't have time to browse your entire feed you can catch up on what your friends are saying.  

 

(Direct link to presentation.)

 

Twitter doesn't have to be overwhelming. Feel free to ignore all of the applications and services that use it at first. Just follow a few people you like and before long you'll become familiar with twitters advanced features as you need them. Everything is 140 characters or less, how hard can it be?

Comments

Great story... might we suggest following us @dalsecurity for all your Dal Security updates? Tiger Patrol, information, security tips, and sometimes just our musings.

Posted by Dal Security | Nov 30, 2021

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