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Read about Jay Rosen's book, What Are Journalists For?

Excerpt from Chapter One of What Are Journalists For? "As Democracy Goes, So Goes the Press."

Essay in Columbia Journalism Review on the changing terms of authority in the press, brought on in part by the blog's individual--and interactive--style of journalism. It argues that, after Jayson Blair, authority is not the same at the New York Times, either.

"Web Users Open the Gates." My take on ten years of Internet journalism, at

Read: Q & As

Jay Rosen, interviewed about his work and ideas by journalist Richard Poynder

Achtung! Interview in German with a leading German newspaper about the future of newspapers and the Net.

Audio: Have a Listen

Listen to an audio interview with Jay Rosen conducted by journalist Christopher Lydon, October 2003. It's about the transformation of the journalism world by the Web.

Five years later, Chris Lydon interviews Jay Rosen again on "the transformation." (March 2008, 71 minutes.)

Interview with host Brooke Gladstone on NPR's "On the Media." (Dec. 2003) Listen here.

Presentation to the Berkman Center at Harvard University on open source journalism and NewAssignment.Net. Downloadable mp3, 70 minutes, with Q and A. Nov. 2006.

Video: Have A Look

Half hour video interview with Robert Mills of the American Microphone series. On blogging, journalism, NewAssignment.Net and distributed reporting.

Jay Rosen explains the Web's "ethic of the link" in this four-minute YouTube clip.

"The Web is people." Jay Rosen speaking on the origins of the World Wide Web. (2:38)

One hour video Q & A on why the press is "between business models" (June 2008)

Recommended by PressThink:

Town square for press critics, industry observers, and participants in the news machine: Romenesko, published by the Poynter Institute.

Town square for weblogs: InstaPundit from Glenn Reynolds, who is an original. Very busy. Very good. To the Right, but not in all things. A good place to find voices in diaolgue with each other and the news.

Town square for the online Left. The Daily Kos. Huge traffic. The comments section can be highly informative. One of the most successful communities on the Net.

Rants, links, blog news, and breaking wisdom from Jeff Jarvis, former editor, magazine launcher, TV critic, now a J-professor at CUNY. Always on top of new media things. Prolific, fast, frequently dead on, and a pal of mine.

Eschaton by Atrios (pen name of Duncan B;ack) is one of the most well established political weblogs, with big traffic and very active comment threads. Left-liberal.

Terry Teachout is a cultural critic coming from the Right at his weblog, About Last Night. Elegantly written and designed. Plus he has lots to say about art and culture today.

Dave Winer is the software wiz who wrote the program that created the modern weblog. He's also one of the best practicioners of the form. Scripting News is said to be the oldest living weblog. Read it over time and find out why it's one of the best.

If someone were to ask me, "what's the right way to do a weblog?" I would point them to Doc Searls, a tech writer and sage who has been doing it right for a long time.

Ed Cone writes one of the most useful weblogs by a journalist. He keeps track of the Internet's influence on politics, as well developments in his native North Carolina. Always on top of things.

Rebecca's Pocket by Rebecca Blood is a weblog by an exemplary practitioner of the form, who has also written some critically important essays on its history and development, and a handbook on how to blog.

Dan Gillmor used to be the tech columnist and blogger for the San Jose Mercury News. He now heads a center for citizen media. This is his blog about it.

A former senior editor at Pantheon, Tom Englehardt solicits and edits commentary pieces that he publishes in blog form at TomDispatches. High-quality political writing and cultural analysis.

Chris Nolan's Spot On is political writing at a high level from Nolan and her band of left-to-right contributors. Her notion of blogger as a "stand alone journalist" is a key concept; and Nolan is an exemplar of it.

Barista of Bloomfield Avenue is journalist Debbie Galant's nifty experiment in hyper-local blogging in several New Jersey towns. Hers is one to watch if there's to be a future for the weblog as news medium.

The Editor's Log, by John Robinson, is the only real life honest-to-goodness weblog by a newspaper's top editor. Robinson is the blogging boss of the Greensboro News-Record and he knows what he's doing.

Fishbowl DC is about the world of Washington journalism. Gossip, controversies, rituals, personalities-- and criticism. Good way to keep track of the press tribe in DC

PJ Net Today is written by Leonard Witt and colleagues. It's the weblog of the Public Journalisn Network (I am a founding member of that group) and it follows developments in citizen-centered journalism.

Here's Simon Waldman's blog. He's the Director of Digital Publishing for The Guardian in the UK, the world's most Web-savvy newspaper. What he says counts.

Novelist, columnist, NPR commentator, Iraq War vet, Colonel in the Army Reserve, with a PhD in literature. How many bloggers are there like that? One: Austin Bay.

Betsy Newmark's weblog she describes as "comments and Links from a history and civics teacher in Raleigh, NC." An intelligent and newsy guide to blogs on the Right side of the sphere. I go there to get links and comment, like the teacher said.

Rhetoric is language working to persuade. Professor Andrew Cline's Rhetorica shows what a good lens this is on politics and the press.

Davos Newbies is a "year-round Davos of the mind," written from London by Lance Knobel. He has a cosmopolitan sensibility and a sharp eye for things on the Web that are just... interesting. This is the hardest kind of weblog to do well. Knobel does it well.

Susan Crawford, a law professor, writes about democracy, technology, intellectual property and the law. She has an elegant weblog about those themes.

Kevin Roderick's LA Observed is everything a weblog about the local scene should be. And there's a lot to observe in Los Angeles.

Joe Gandelman's The Moderate Voice is by a political independent with an irrevant style and great journalistic instincts. A link-filled and consistently interesting group blog.

Ryan Sholin's Invisible Inkling is about the future of newspapers, online news and journalism education. He's the founder of and a self-taught Web developer and designer.

H20town by Lisa Williams is about the life and times of Watertown, Massachusetts, and it covers that town better than any local newspaper. Williams is funny, she has style, and she loves her town.

Dan Froomkin's White House Briefing at is a daily review of the best reporting and commentary on the presidency. Read it daily and you'll be extremely well informed.

Rebecca MacKinnon, former correspondent for CNN, has immersed herself in the world of new media and she's seen the light (great linker too.)

Micro Persuasion is Steve Rubel's weblog. It's about how blogs and participatory journalism are changing the business of persuasion. Rubel always has the latest study or article.

Susan Mernit's blog is "writing and news about digital media, ecommerce, social networks, blogs, search, online classifieds, publishing and pop culture from a consultant, writer, and sometime entrepeneur." Connected.

Group Blogs

CJR Daily is Columbia Journalism Review's weblog about the press and its problems, edited by Steve Lovelady, formerly of the Philadelpia Inquirer.

Lost Remote is a very newsy weblog about television and its future, founded by Cory Bergman, executive producer at KING-TV in Seattle. Truly on top of things, with many short posts a day that take an inside look at the industry.

Editors Weblog is from the World Editors Fourm, an international group of newspaper editors. It's about trends and challenges facing editors worldwide. keeps track of developments from the British side of the Atlantic. Very strong on online journalism.

Digests & Round-ups:

Memeorandum: Single best way I know of to keep track of both the news and the political blogosphere. Top news stories and posts that people are blogging about, automatically updated.

Daily Briefing: A categorized digest of press news from the Project on Excellence in Journalism.

Press Notes is a round-up of today's top press stories from the Society of Professional Journalists.

Richard Prince does a link-rich thrice-weekly digest called "Journalisms" (plural), sponsored by the Maynard Institute, which believes in pluralism in the press.

Newsblog is a daily digest from Online Journalism Review.

E-Media Tidbits from the Poynter Institute is group blog by some of the sharper writers about online journalism and publishing. A good way to keep up

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January 4, 2009

Help Me Explain Twitter to Eggheads

I have a nifty assignment from Chronicle of Higher Education to write about why I'm on Twitter. Personal essay, 1200 words, for print and online. Wanna help? If you're on Twitter, tell me what you use it for.

“What it’s like, why you do it,” my editor, Karen Winkler, wrote in her instructions. “Don’t expect me to do this article without talking about it on Twitter,” I wrote back. She said: no problem. So I did some of that, and here we are.

This is my Twitter feed. What I have so far:

A dummy title. Why I Write 400 Words a Day and Put Them on Twitter. Whether that’s the actual title or not, it’s the question my piece must answer.

Known audiences: subscribers to the Chronicle of Higher Education, anyone on the web who’s closely interested in social media, the 5,000+ people in my Twitter feed plus the broader crowd in Twitterland they can potentially reach. Bloggers, journalists, J-schoolers, PressThink users, my colleagues on the journalism faculty at NYU.

Deliverables: Essay in The Chronicle Review (print edition, weekly). By prior agreement, the piece will be online in the free section of the site; and it will also run at PressThink in a more developed form.

Givens: Twitter has been in the news lately. It’s seen as trendy. Lots have heard of it without really understanding it. This would probably include my editor, but that’s what good editors do. They represent curious readers who know a little. Many people have observed the difficulty of explaining what Twitter “is” until the person requesting the explanation tries it out. I certainly found that to be true in my experience.

Some “must have” parts to the story:

1. The who what when and why of deciding to join Twitter in May of 2008. (Jeff Jarvis pestered me into it.)

2. My custom-built description of what Twitter “is” and where it came from. Here I note that it’s notoriously difficult to explain to the non-user, but give it a go anyway.

3. Who I follow and why, how I picked them, how I add them now. What it’s like to read the inflow from Twitter.

4. What my Twitter posts consist of, the different types I return to, why I write them that way, and how I go about adding value.

5. The whole 140 characters thing and how that constraint creates the genre.

6. What a Twitter “feed” is, where its value lies, and how it compares to a traditional blog.

7. The connection between micro-blogging and the kind of blogging I’ve been doing at PressThink since 2003, at the Huffington Post since 2005 and IdeaLab since 2007.

8. Some terrible things about Twitter for a writer: can’t edit it, the archiving sucks, can’t keep up with follower growth and “hand add” easily.

9. And then, the thing I need your help with: what do I actually use Twitter for?.

I have a number of answers to that, which I will present, but I would like to feature some others. The intent of my question is to put the accent on “useful.” What do you use Twitter for? I’m especially interested if you’re an academic—student, teacher, PhD—but my curiosity is not limited to those groups.

My case: I use Twitter as a hand-built tipster network. That’s one thing my follower list amounts to. I also use it to keep in touch with friends of my ideas. I am planning to write these observations up as bullet points, like so: (Q: “What do I use Twitter for?”)

  • It’s a hand-built tipster network. The people I follow bring essential things to my attention and keep me current. That’s why I picked them! (140 clicks)
  • Twitter keeps me in touch with people who are friends of my ideas. I know about their projects and current obsessions; they know about mine. (140)
  • I use it to learn about the “live web” and sharing networks, two critical developments directly in my sights as a student of media. (131)

And I have a few more like that. If you want to help me, and possibly be in my piece: craft a bullet point exactly like I did, but about your experience. Make it a reply to the question: what do you use Twitter for? (Or what have you found it useful for?) Keep it to 140 clicks or less. It should be a piece of writing. An answer like, “Breaking news, Twitter is way faster…” may be a valid and accurate statement, but it is not a piece of writing. This is a writing (and, heck, thinking) assignment!

Game? By participating you give me permission to use your bullet, but of course I may not wind up using what you say. I’m hoping the comment thread will have value regardless of how much of it is used. Of course you are free to comment on any part of the assignment, offer suggestions, and to add context to your bullet point.

You can even complain about the “meta”-ness of it, and how lame it is to be writing about Twitter. But—fair warning—you will bore me really fast with that. I study and write about social media and blogging. They’re part of my beat. The Chronicle knew that when they asked me to take on this assignment.

Now if you are willing to play ball and help me with my piece, just put your bullet point in the comments. I will also be collecting replies on Twitter. Remember: I’m not asking what you think about Twitter in some lazy, hazy or general way. I’m not asking why you love it, or why some don’t. I’m asking what you find it useful for. (What’s the gain? What do you “get” if you play?) I think this is what a lot of people—and Chronicle of Higher Education readers—want to know.

What’s your bullet point? The bar is open. And the replies are streaming in from Twitter. I’ve collected the non-redundant ones. Start here and follow the trail. The latest round from Twitter is here.

Posted by Jay Rosen at January 4, 2009 12:50 PM   Print


In a class of skeptical journalism graduate students, I logged onto Twitter and asked who journalist students should follow. In ten minutes I got 40 great suggestions, including a journalist who was getting onto Air Force One when I asked.

Posted by: Howard Rheingold at January 4, 2009 1:12 PM | Permalink

Twitter is the easiest way in the world to keep up with what is happening in our world. In 140 characters or less you get can a complete update as to social and world events.

Posted by: JadedNews at January 4, 2009 1:16 PM | Permalink

As you probably know, we had a pretty compelling panel about Twitter at MLA. Cathy Davidson has a great review of the panel on her blog and I wrote about it briefly on my blog in the context of a course I am designing that will require Twitter use. But I'm in essential agreement with your main arguments: it's a way of connecting with others, scholars, friends, locals, whomever, often with the goal of knowledge-building and sharing.

I think the place of Twitter is somewhat analogous to blogs in 2002. People are a little afraid, not sure yet what microblogging will do, but I've found it incredibly useful. BTW, I'm @chutry on Twitter.

Posted by: Chuck at January 4, 2009 1:17 PM | Permalink

I use it to keep in touch with friends, network with people who share my academic interests, and find content I might have missed otherwise. (140)

Posted by: Adam at January 4, 2009 1:18 PM | Permalink

Thanks, everyone. I am going to post some of the answers coming in on Twitter. This isn't "all" of them, but a generous selection.

gmarkham: "Beyond the sheer fun of it, Twitter gives me a fluid group of eyes-on-the-world editors who inform and filter for me."

howardowens: "Twitter is a salon in 140 characters."

darrenlevy: "It makes it easier to communicate with people who are typically hard to track down."

frankfessenden: "With twitter & twitter search I'm close to new conversations re what I care about: higher ed, social media, music, politics."

joeybaker: "Twitter is my IM conversation that has the benefit of letting anyone who wants to reply."

HarryWaisbren: "I find twitter useful to engage journalists, bloggers, and academics casually whereas within other mediums they would resist."

palafo: "Crowd-sourcing tool for filtering the Web and news, sharing links, testing ideas, getting answers, taking media pulse."

ulturhack: "Twitter's brutally imposed concision almost always further clarifies my opining. It's unavoidably about essences of arguments."

debmarkham: "How often does anyone get to contribute to a project like this otherwise?"

sarahebourne: "I use Twitter to learn about non-government uses of social media, then ponder how techniques can advance civic engagement."

Twitter’s impact on my 2008.

ahynes1: "I get my breaking news on Twitter first."

moody834: "Conveying the pulse of the moment in a place ideally suited for feeling it. Twitter's the wrist where it's easiest to suss it."

andyvglnt: "Twitter helps me stay connected to friends, record labels, journalists, authors and artists I find interesting."

academicdave: "I use it to keep in touch with students, and follow what a wide range of people are thinking about. 'Swarm Conscious.'"

heinz: "twitter allows twittering: continuous, assymetric, asynchronous and easily observable news excange with a cloud of people."

MyInfoMatrix: "Value, for us, is in sharing thoughts with thinkers & doers open to input, & in return? Real Time Connections 2 leading minds."

mark3k: "for me it's the fact that i can receive lots of information on different topics, without loosing overview, getting confused" (because the 140 character limit helps.)

mattthomas: "I find Twitter useful for keeping track of what interesting people are thinking and talking about, be it prosaic or profound."

calixte: "I use my Cognitive Surplus to do some Mindcasting, using the ultimate Blip Machine: Twitter."

cami13: "Sharing with practitioners worldwide, twitter is an effective VLE, a puzzle of millions of PLEs."

Dave Winer at his blog, Scripting News:

Jay Rosen asked: "Write a 140 character post that explains what you find Twitter useful for." Permalink to this paragraph

DW: "Twitter is my shared notepad. If I want to remember something and I don't mind if everyone else knows it, I just post it here."

Only 126 characters.

John A. Byrne: "Twitter permits an ongoing conversation with an audience. In my case, editor to reader. It's a remarkable user engagement tool."

mthomps: "I still like Clive Thompson's metaphor: Twitter as proprioception."

meranduh: "Twitter expands my network, especially with locals and in journalism industry circles. Plus keeps friends, family up-to-date."

genevaoh: "on any given day Twitter can be thought-provoking, vapid, addictive, tedious. hard to peg simplistically."

davidmaclean: "A unique RSS feeder. Every link comes from an individual I've decided to follow."

briantroy: "Conversations with smart people make me smarter."

willmcjunkin: "To me it's like copywriting. It forces me to pulverize my thoughts into tiny bits. Thats useful."

UKProgressive: "Twitter and FB build traffic to my e-magazine. It's quite remarkable how these integrate and build readers."

Can we use Twitter for educational activities?

kpkfusion: "Discovery. Learning. Connection."

feliciayee: "Great news filter. I have read breaking news on twitter feeds first before going to larger media networks."

sfslim: "Twitter's amb. intimacy keeps me better connected to my friends, & lets me more broadly exp. the collective cultural zeitgeist."

amandafrench: "Glimpsing the quotidian texture of others' lives in a way previously possible for me only through novels."

abrichar: "It's a way to be close to my community, stay on top of news that's important to me, & remember there's a big world out there."

sfslim: "When used on a mobile device, twitter becomes a Stirling engine of synchronicity."

This is the first of several feeds into the comment thread from Twitter. You can jump to the next one or get there by reading the comments.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at January 4, 2009 1:21 PM | Permalink

To actively inform my readers of new blogposts and selectively follow tech news from people, not brand names.

Posted by: sghosh at January 4, 2009 1:22 PM | Permalink

Twitter provides a low-attention-load, high-density glimpse into the preoccupations of folks whose opinions are sometimes held in high regard, or amuse.

The opportunity for clutter & noise is high. It's like skimming just the headlines of Google Reader, Bloglines or Google News, but with the added editorial constraint of 140 byte headlines.

Effective use of Twitter requires a fast skim, and a platform different from its typically mobile format -- e.g., a browser with some supporting sort, search and cataloging assets.

Posted by: Mark Underwood at January 4, 2009 1:26 PM | Permalink

Twitter is how I connect with like-minded folks to show myself that I'm not crazy for thinking that connection + authenticity are paramount.

And its exactly 140 :)

Posted by: Jeremy Meyers [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 4, 2009 1:30 PM | Permalink

Here's my bullet:

Twitter creates trust thru daily relevant informational posts. Trust=sales. I've landed one contract and sold 1800 books on Twitter in 1 mo.

Posted by: Vicki Kunkel at January 4, 2009 1:31 PM | Permalink

Twitter moves contacts from a position of "must answer" (phone or emails) to can answer. It keeps me close to people I want to know better.

Posted by: marnie webb at January 4, 2009 1:32 PM | Permalink

For me: "ambient intimacy" - I get a better insight into the lives of interesting people than simply reading their blog/articles etc.

Posted by: Jonathan at January 4, 2009 1:32 PM | Permalink

I am @dmgerbino on Twitter. I have expanded my contacts in my industry and job interests. This allows me to learn more. I have also expanded my knowledge by following others in different industries. It gives me a level of contact that the web does not have. Breaking news is awesome and I am closer to NASA which is kewl. From a competitor research perspective I can now get an inside read on my competitors customers and that is powerful.

Posted by: David Gerbino at January 4, 2009 1:34 PM | Permalink

Learning about the health problems, sleeping schedules, and flight delays of all my favorite media consultants/thinkers.

Posted by: anonymous at January 4, 2009 1:35 PM | Permalink

get to see upcoming trends prior they ever appear in academic journals - so as an academic, may help me keep ahead of gane!

Posted by: lorraine warren at January 4, 2009 1:36 PM | Permalink

Twitter is a useful social medium best used for generating and sharing ideas, thoughts and daily happenings. Also great for wire feeds.

Posted by: Rich Garton at January 4, 2009 1:39 PM | Permalink

Twitter helps me navigate and share real-time bits of emerging thougts of a selected network of people who share some of my obsessions.

Posted by: calixte tayoro at January 4, 2009 1:39 PM | Permalink

Twitter is a real-time way for me to connect and stay connected, to learn more, do more and share more. It enriches my work and home life.

Posted by: Lance Ulanoff at January 4, 2009 1:39 PM | Permalink

This is the second of three posts feeding in the replies I am getting on Twitter.

(Jump back to the first.)

acarvin: "I use twitter for debunking rumors. There's a critical mass of skeptics here that more often than not rumors come here to die."

bergus: "Twitter acts as a big brain that filters and links me to the best and most relevant information available at any given time."

paulbradshaw: "Finding people who know things; spotting breaking news not by news orgs; useful tools; stimulating conversatio."

anodyne2art: "Launchpad for ones left standing in ruins asking:Where To Human? Think Tank Lab. TechAgitProp:Share Your Toys.GPS For Brains."

jny2cornell: "Twittering interesting links and thoughts earns attention and esteem, so people post them, so I follow them and read them."

dsilverman: "I use it to keep up with local blog/Web 2.0 folk, tech news & luminaries, other journalists, friends. Also float ideas."

elneclare: "I often keep track of daughter and her reports of my grandkids latest exploits. I also get updates from nyt and other MSM."

fbihop: "I wrote a story about how some local reporters use Twitter."

dermotcasey: "It makes me smarter. Thats as useful as it gets."

storageroom: "Twitter allows me to believe my every unspoken thought matters :) As a reporter, I know story help/sources can't be far away."

Karoli: "Twitter is a connector to people, places, thought and opportunity otherwise lost."

TinaDupuy: "It's voyeurism and morbid curiosity cloaked in a breaking news justification. Why would you not twitter?"

ivanoransky: "To get news tips, get user feedback, respond to that user feedback, find out what interests users, describe what interests me."

MyInfoMatrix: "If knowledge is power then what could be more powerful than viral networks of thinkers sharing knowledge in real time? Not ..."

westseattleblog: "most useful to us for getting us first word of what is happening NOW (from local one-liners to media breaking-news links)"

russ_walker: "Useful about Twitter: Following friends' whims and tracking a few thought-provoking writers in my field--journalism."

RachelSterne: "I use Twitter to find citizen reporters in areas of breaking news, like Mumbai and Gaza. Their work goes on @groundreport."

katie_foody: "As a journalism student (for a bit longer) twitter keeps me updated on all there is to learn in or beyond the media industry."

calistan: "It is another vehicle for us to promote new posts on to the tech savvy and tastemakers who can provide momentum... We also created @madwis in hopes to encourage the city of Madison to utilize twitter for important citywide updates."

planspark: "To follow people outside my liberal, Bay Area echo chamber. Hard to bear at times, but can be great sanity check. ;-) "

dimrac: "The innovation in added value simpleness: communicate direct with different social,intellectual, financial & geo level people with simpleness."

negaratduke: "I keep in touch with students, movies they r watching, their blogs for course readings, also keep up with news & innovation."

ishizuka: "Twitter enables me to engage with-not simply encounter-different perspectives - invaluable to a reporter, indeed, anyone."

emilykostic: "Twitter is the perfect tool for networking. I've met so many people & learned so much from them."

edwebb: "Mapping out a network, working from who knows whom to who knows what."

stevebuttry: "Twitter tells me quickly what's going on in my community (ice storm last night) and my industry (links, blogs, news)."

podnosh: "Sharing, sourcing ideas, sourcing how to do stuff, helping, organising, finding trust in surprising places."

Stowe Boyd: "Twitter is the most spontaneous, sprawling, and talky social tool that I use: it amplifies everything else I do online and makes me smarter."

JoeTrippi: "I use twitter to create a "read file" of cool or interesting stuff from people & contribute same on things when I can."

johncabell: "Personally: vent. Professionally: aggregate, distribute and solicit information."

louise_fletcher: "I use Twitter to learn what experts in my field are thinking, and to listen to what customers in my field are worried about."

valdiskrebs: "Twitter is the Discovery Channel for me -- discovery of new people, new ideas, and new links."

JessieNYC: "I find Twitter useful for reading and discovering beyond my field of expertise."

willmcjunkin: "Twttr fosters 'illusion' of one big conversation incl mvrs/shkrs in ur field of intrst. That arguably helps raise one's game."

howardgr: "Twitter helps me be more succinct."

bshank: "I like it as an ad hoc focus group session for ideas that haven't fully germinated in my head yet."

jeffmignon: "Twitter is personal and professional news agency."

nkempinski: "Immediacy. It's like radio. Say it and move on."

scott_malish: "a level playing field for conversing and engaging with anyone; a tool for discovering intelligent and interesting people."

asteris: "I use Twitter to engage with the real int'l community; as a CB in times of crisis, a citizen journalism notepad / water cooler."

abie: "I get fragmentary glimpses into the minds of people who interest me. Or, in the words of @rogerrorbach: social proprioception."

gtzi: "I use twitter to update on my universe of choice, with the problem of briefing outsourced."

ksablan: "Twitter alerts me to news quicker than most sources, and lets me find and direct questions to people on the scene and experts."

TAC_NISO: "keeping to 140 chars focuses the mind on what you need to say. Like having a good editor. Also quick way to hear smart things."

kentbye: " I use the Summizer iPhone app w/ your username (@jayrosen_nyu) as a saved search to track insightful media criticism & aggregate conversation."

Coyote: "Twitter inspires me to stay connected with folks, both locally and globally, and to write well enough to entertain my audience "

dangillmor: "Twitter is a current (and sometimes early) warning and gossip system, with occasional insight and frequent amusement."

mkgold: "I use twitter to connect to, and stay abreast of, a network I couldn't have imagined before I found twitter."

To see more replies from Twitter users just follow the link. Or you can get there by reading the comment thread.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at January 4, 2009 1:41 PM | Permalink

Jay, I see Twitter as the great equalizer. Now, that sounds like regurgitated buzz, so let me qualify my statement: Twitter allows me to connect with influencers and experts in my fields of interest on an unbiased platform - the kind of access I do not necessarily enjoy offline (or am unable to because of geography). The success of my efforts is based strictly on whether or not others value my insights, conversation, or the information I distribute. In that respect, Twitter is a meritocracy. I use it as a networking tool in the truest sense of the word: building new professional relationships based on mutual benefit; or new friendships founded in respect, understanding and appreciation. - @andrewkneale

Posted by: Andrew Kneale at January 4, 2009 1:41 PM | Permalink

as a police scanner by bystanders, notes for the first rough draft of history, one-on-one with dozens of people, accumulated slices of life (139)

Posted by: Brian Cubbison at January 4, 2009 1:41 PM | Permalink

I'm currently using twitter to find interesting people & ideas for a conference on mindcasting that is to take place in Oslo (Norway).

Posted by: calixte tayoro at January 4, 2009 1:44 PM | Permalink

Twttr allows me to access & interact w/ the issues & ppl that I care about in real time . Twttr is the collective conscience of the new web.

Posted by: George Roges at January 4, 2009 1:44 PM | Permalink

One of the best way to discribe Twitter to Eggheads is to quote p.176 of Alvin Toffler's Third Wave, where he talks about "Blip Culture".
PS: Jay, here's the quote from Toffler: "On a personal level we are besieged and blitzed by fragments of imagery, contradictory or unrelated, that shake up our old ideas and come shooting at us in the form of broken or disenbodied 'blips'. We live, in fact, in a 'blip culture."

Posted by: calixte tayoro at January 4, 2009 1:51 PM | Permalink

I twitter, therefore I am.

Posted by: Peg Mulligan at January 4, 2009 1:55 PM | Permalink

Jay: I just tweeted my shortest contribution :)

"I invest my Cognitive Surplus to do some Mindcasting, using the ultimate Blip Machine: Twitter."

Posted by: calixte tayoro at January 4, 2009 1:57 PM | Permalink

I've found Twitter to be the most powerful networking tool available. Its provied professional opportunities and helped me land a job!

Posted by: DaveMurr at January 4, 2009 1:58 PM | Permalink

Twitter is like the water cooler of the web. You stop in, listen to what folks are talking about, dish out your own chatter. It's great for casual talk, as well as total immersion.

Posted by: Deanna Zandt at January 4, 2009 2:05 PM | Permalink

If knowledge is power then what could be more powerful than viral networks of dedicated thinkers sharing knowledge in real time? Not a lot. (140)

Posted by: Pavan K at January 4, 2009 2:10 PM | Permalink

Apart from learning from peers and pros, chatting in targeted # groups, connecting with twitters with similar personal interests, keeping up with social media trends and getting breaking news....

I currently use twitter to keep a pulse on the yoga industry for a client and use it to poll & connect with influencers.

Posted by: Maria Olsson-Tysor at January 4, 2009 2:12 PM | Permalink

Short version: Twitter allows me to dip my toe into the info stream and kick some water around.

Long version:
-- 2008 MLA Session on Microblogging
-- My presentation in that session (GoogleDoc)
-- My blog post on how Twitter altered the experience of the MLA convention

Happy writing!

Posted by: Matt at January 4, 2009 2:13 PM | Permalink

Twitter is like playing Paper, Scissors, Rock: a child's game of a moment's notice, or serious adult discussion, over time. It's your choice. [140c]

Posted by: Critt Jarvis at January 4, 2009 2:16 PM | Permalink

#1 I use it as a back channel for discussion on live events #2 I use it so i can be part of the conversation

Posted by: Darko Buldioski at January 4, 2009 2:21 PM | Permalink

It's 2009's newspaper/magazine/radio or tv. It's culture, news, wisdom and wit. (With a dash of absurdity/weirdness thrown in.)

Posted by: Steve Haweeli at January 4, 2009 2:31 PM | Permalink

all of the above, of course. also? i see it as an an artform. some people are really good at it -- clever, provocative, funny, compelling, and yes, literary and artistic. it's amazing what one can do given the limit of 2 or 3 short sentences. it is very much like poetry, or can be, and many have found their magic. i enjoy the challenge of limited space to find new, succinct ways to use language to convey ideas & thoughts.

it's also been a truly wonderful place to hang out. it has become an amazing source of humor; really, really funny people out there, who offer some really irreverent observances. i plan to stay there, enjoying others' little pearls, continuing to toss out my own, and enjoying the bits of community that gather, and the wildly unexpected conversations that pop up, like wondering through a cocktail party.

Posted by: kari peterson at January 4, 2009 2:39 PM | Permalink

I personally use Twitter to keep track of news as well as the thoughts of movers and shakers in the world of communications. As a communication professional, I have found the links and comments invaluable for my job as well as my current personal quest to my graduate degree.

However, I also have created a Twitter channel for the University I work for(University of the Pacific). While it's relatively new, I have found that it's a great way to keep in touch with alumni and community supporters and let them know what the University is up to. Additionally, we have found that a number of other Universities and many regional news agencies now follow us in an effort to keep tabs on our movements. In essence, it has become a way for the University as a whole to network with peers, supporters and the media.

Posted by: Patrick Giblin at January 4, 2009 2:42 PM | Permalink

The innovation in added value simpleness:communicate direct with different social,intellectual,financial & geo level people with simpleness

Posted by: Dimitris Rakopoulos at January 4, 2009 2:43 PM | Permalink

I use twitter to eavesdrop on, and participate in, public cacophonous conversation not found in one-way media, classrooms or lecture halls. (139)

Posted by: Tim at January 4, 2009 2:44 PM | Permalink

Twitter enables me to engage with-not simply encounter-different perspectives - invaluable to a reporter, indeed, anyone.

Posted by: Kathy Ishizuka at January 4, 2009 2:54 PM | Permalink

It's like IRC for grownups. Only with smarterer conversations.

Posted by: Myron Tay at January 4, 2009 2:54 PM | Permalink

via PJNet Blog: "Republics require conversation, often cacophonous conversation, for they should be noisy places."

Posted by: Tim at January 4, 2009 2:55 PM | Permalink

I use it to crowdsource. Saved me $ on car rentals, found a good restaurant, made a connection that lead to a job, and found a good jeweler for anniversary present.

Posted by: Expat Teacher at January 4, 2009 2:57 PM | Permalink

Twitter increases serendipity.

Posted by: Digidave at January 4, 2009 3:00 PM | Permalink

Slightly amended to stress symmetry of posting and reading:

"Posting interesting links and thoughts earns attention and esteem, so I post them, and so people post them, so I follow them and read them." (139)

I hope the relevant antecedents are sufficiently clear.

Posted by: Josh Young (jny2cornell on twitter) at January 4, 2009 3:01 PM | Permalink

Informing while entertaining, period; end of paragraph.

Posted by: marco at January 4, 2009 3:10 PM | Permalink

I keep going back to Twitter for news and ideas from folks I wouldn't have heard from ordinarily. It's opened a new line of communication.

Posted by: Sandra Santos at January 4, 2009 3:13 PM | Permalink

Twitter is my excercise to Laconism. Say more with less.

Posted by: Nick Drandakis at January 4, 2009 3:18 PM | Permalink

"I tweet to people in the same city, or across the ocean, to share my ideas and life. I read tweets to find blogs, friends, news, and fun." -137 characters.

Or a more precise bullet: "I use Twitter to interact. I give ideas, I receive ideas, and build personal and business relationships." -31 characters

I wish I could say I used it academically, but I find little awareness of Twitter at my campus or with other college students. I have successfully used Twitter when trying to work through an idea for a thesis paper. I was trying to delve into the importance of fraternal twins in Lee's The Recess. Having many people tweet me their conceptions of twins (i.e., share the feeling of pain, finish each other's sentences, etc.) helped me pinpoint my thoughts for that section of the paper.

Posted by: hidama at January 4, 2009 3:33 PM | Permalink

Twitter is a media through which I can share information across with people who have interests in my interests!!

Posted by: Palak Mathur at January 4, 2009 3:38 PM | Permalink

For the most part I don't find Twitter 'useful'. It's provided a few good resources but I'd likely have found them via other sources. So perhaps it accelerating my data acquisition and research.

However, I had the opportunity to actually get USE from Twitter when I had to take my daughter to the ER. Twitter provided a great way to keep family and friends up to date without leaving the room or having to explain the same thing to multiple people, letting me focus on my daughter instead.

I posted the details on Blind Five Year Old:

Twitter In The ER

Posted by: AJ Kohn at January 4, 2009 3:39 PM | Permalink

I hadn't known anything about Social Media before May of 08. I work in an industry that could use it to expand. Setting out to research I found the league of tech subworlds to teach me the way. I now share my new knowledge with non-profits for global work. I keep my follow low and focused for the reseach.

Posted by: Enriqueta at January 4, 2009 3:51 PM | Permalink

I use Twitter to keep up with business network and to promote news and new products from our company

Posted by: mike miller at January 4, 2009 3:53 PM | Permalink

I started using Twitter just to learn what it is, so I can better advise the students in our college-media program. Mostly I use Twitter to learn about new social networking and newsgathering tools. Not much else so far.

Posted by: BDiNome at January 4, 2009 4:14 PM | Permalink

Twitter is multicast SMS. Think about it...

Posted by: William Ockham at January 4, 2009 4:17 PM | Permalink

I use Twitter to stay connected to both the journalism and education communities. As a journalism teacher, it is easy to become isolated on you own campus. Twitter has allowed me to connect and talk to or follow young up and coming journalists, college j-students and professors, pro journalists and other j-teachers.

Twitter is more than just a community - it is a community of communities. It is self-generating, interlocking, self governing groups of communities. It allows people to connect and find others like themselves or who have information to share that they want to know. It is more than just texting or blogging, it is community in the best sense.

Also check out Twitter in Plain English:

Posted by: Teach_J at January 4, 2009 4:41 PM | Permalink

Again, thanks to all for helping with my article. This is third post feeding in comments from Twitter.

(Previous ones here and here .)

katriord: "Best place to check to see if the planet is still breathing."

benatlas: "You get to listen in on some smart, famous, successful people without a paparazzi license and they don't mind, will it last?"

brianrose: "I use it to listen to Google Toolbar users via TweetDeck searches, and reply to any questions/concerns they have." (Customer service rep for Google Toolbar.)

selfmadepsyche: "Twitter is my water cooler, people watcher and help desk, all at once."

zhuli: "Twitter has helped me grow my network and reach out to other new media experts, especially in other cities."

richdanielson: "I use it to participate in or be informed about real-time conversations that I might not otherwise be able to access."

benshoemate: "I use twitter to talk and listen to people I don't know. (Since I have other channels for those I do know)"

MCaputo_MPR: "It is the smallest vessels, the capillaries, in the digital information body. It's an easy way to spread information."

decdetdes: "One thing it is doing for me: it is introducing me to people around the world --- an amazing technological pen pal tool."

quotergal: "I use twitter to 1) connect with online real time friends; 2) keep up on latest news; 3) access some great new media brains."

dodgemedlin: "The day of the San Diego #jetcrash, I turned to Twitter for fast, thorough news links. I never needed Google News."

manthropologist: "To get a better understanding of new journalistic methods, for news gathering and research, to 'hear it first'; in that order."

jenconnic: "As a mobile journalist, Twitter keeps me connected in what can otherwise be a lonely existence. I love the community."

(I happen to love this one.) IndyEnigma: "Been spouting opinions to my family for years, now I tell the world. If folks read & think, GREAT, if ignore, their loss! ;-{)"

willmcjunkin: "Using Twitter is like pulverizing an atom or fat molecules in milk. You hammer [and] pulverize an idea into bits. With luck sparks may fly."

ryansholin: "Twitter is a connection engine that costs nothing. No bar tab, no conference registration, no commitment. Just 140 characters." (. People "use" it for the exact same thing academics use conferences for. They'll get that.)

(*** Three stars) kiyoshimartinez: "I hope the bits that I tweet (and read) end up in conversations over beer with my friends."

Ugotrade: "Twitter - a revolt against the serfdom of public conversation in command economies meets lolcat FTW." (For the win.)

(brilliantly put!) memoirgirl: "Now I'm not just funny to myself."

dannymears: "For signposts and posting signs; for stimulation; for information; for comedy; for contact."

alexsteed: "Twitter is where I go to learn and discuss breaking news before it's processed, polished and turned into a commodity." (I like that "before" concept, as I noticed that too.)

johnmcquaid: "I use Twitter to pare down [and] focus ideas; for the flow of ideas [and] feedback; as an outlet for stuff that can go nowhere else."

jtshelton: "Twitter allows for appropriate political discourse with low barriers to access - a quasi-democracy online." (Do you mean democracy there or do you mean "open?")

tiffanyvonemmel: "Twitter is how I meet with busy people. It replaces email. At academic conferences, I use Twitter to demonstrate the performative turn of knowledge."

Twitter as a device for teaching Internet efficiency in language. Arrow back to morse code, which was clumsy but much needed then to take advantage of the telegraph, which was then "wiring" people in a new way. TONS of literature on that.

cjewel: "I self-select who informs me, amuses me, teaches me, makes me think, supports me. Some even read my books. It all depends."

rainycamp: "Twitter builds my reading list. I get links to online articles I would not have found on my own."

storyassistant: "I use twitter to engage in meaningful conversations at a cocktail party that has an infinite number of guests and backgrounds."

Editer: "Everyone whose ideas I care about is mingling at a cocktail party. I'm wandering around the room, listening in, unnoticed."

Hands down: the most recurring images in the answers I have received are the "water cooler" or "watering hole" set up (mythical) and "the cockail party" without all the "lost" chances image.

tonyaplank: "I use Twitter to connect with other writers and readers and to learn to be less verbose -- a skill I desperately need :)"

kirklapointe: "Twitter: Follow to understand, be Followed to let others understand you, throw it all open to have anyone say anything." (Say this one aloud.)

amandafrench uses it for. "Sneakily dumping lines lines of poetry into the information water main." Example.

matterhornpat: "It is real time: news, connections, ci, keyword research, answers, reputation monitor, trend analysis and humor all rolled up."

resnikoff: @jayrosen_nyu A lot of times, Twitter is where I react to news with a thought fragment, when I don't have the time or inclination for more.

A theme in many comments. Twitter allows for partial participation when partial works-- a "thought fragment." Its the small pieces loosely joined philosophy.

jeneane: "twitter is ubiquitous, parallel IM , with relationship overlaps."

kevglobal: "During field reporting, can use Twitter via my phone when I can't crack open a laptop. Twitpic and location add to reporting."

benshoemate: "Twitter works because its like a game. Challenging you with a limitation. Rewarding you with points (followers). Addictive."

newley: "I prefer what @anamariecox says: Twitter is 'like CB radio for nerds.'..."

jpkenyon: "In a story I did recently about Twitter users in my area, the best analogy was to a police scanner."

msntechjane: "I see Twitter like a ham radio for tuning into the world. There's a lot of static but some interesting operators too."

RachelSterne: "Twitter realizes the dynamic, social potential of RSS. Imagine if RSS feeds were people with brains and egos? Voila: twitter."

briancroxall: "Instead of updates from people I know IRL, Twitter links me to academics whose work overlaps mine; it's a research community."

aaronrester: "Twitter connects me to my peers at other .edu institutions in real time for idea sharing and instant feedback."

duckstrap: "For @theuptake Twitter is a tool used to dynamically aggregate geographically-based, citizen-fueled reporting & mashups."

uchicagolaw: Twitter allows us to give prospective students a bite-sized glimpse into what life here is like.

ChilmarkD: "No middleman. I'm seeing folks with unique knowledge (& many followers) now selling direct, i.e. books, web-based courses."

aclobridge: 'Connect with others -- ask questions, get answers. Share news, ideas. Learn. Build a professional community.'

(Back to the top of the trail.)

Posted by: Jay Rosen at January 4, 2009 5:34 PM | Permalink

Twitter provides attitude and context to knowledge nuggets on persons and objects of interest. Makes for happier and smarter squirrels.

Posted by: Ted Perlmutter at January 4, 2009 5:37 PM | Permalink

Meranda Watling:

"Beyond my real-life network, this blog and my online activities have helped me extend my professional network beyond even the coasts of the U.S. or its borders. Add in Twitter and Wired Journalists, among others, and I feel comfortable that someone in my network could answer or point me toward an answer for just about any dilemma or question I could come up with, journalistic or otherwise. And likewise, what makes a network work is that I jump in the conversation when I can help or offer advice myself."

I love that: and likewise.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at January 4, 2009 5:50 PM | Permalink

I think for most people using Twitter, it's a way to talk shop and potentially expand business. Also, as Christopher S. Penn said of twitter on the six pixels of separation podcast: as a 19-year old nobody/college student/wannabe blogger who is really just getting the hang of twitter, I'm making small connections and learning about smart people who I otherwise would not have access to. It's time consuming to try to make these connections using Twitter, but it's invaluable to suddenly have limitless links to people and ideas that are not necessarily available in my immediate community, which at the moment in my tiny university, feels very, very small.

About 4 of my friends in real life use Twitter, though, and when they do, it's usually to write about things only interesting to those who know them personally. Twitter is not exactly the every-person's social networking tool, at least not yet. My friends all just use facebook -- that takes up enough of their procrastination time. They're not going to sign up for what for them amounts to another facebook status.

I think there's a lot more to be said about the people who DON'T use Twitter. Not all movers and shakers are bloggers or social media experts, and it's difficult for all of them to establish the time to devote to developing online personalities and followers online.

Twitter can be re-purposed for many different uses, though it's weird constantly gauging how to twitter according to my many-faceted following audience -- I worry that some potential tweets might be too mundane or too vegan. Even if it's a little time consuming, though, I'm having too much fun trying to figure out all the possibilities.

Posted by: Brooke Lyssy at January 4, 2009 6:16 PM | Permalink

Hi Jay - I am an Australian journalist/journalism academic @ the University of Canberra. I'm @julie_posetti on Twitter. Here's my contribution for your Twitter usefulness guide:

• I use it as a journalistic platform for live-blogging events – as a textual adaptation of broadcast’s live crosses – & for observational reportage
• I use it as a journalism teaching aid. I had my b’cast students use TWT to live-blog a local election last October from the media hub (
• I use Twitter as a ‘living’ online contact ‘book’; a research tool & an ideas litmus tester – crowd sourced thinking.
• I use it to connect globally with like minds & to challenge others; to expand my knowledge base and share my ideas.
• I use it as a public diary – for life observations & as a publication platform for my Haiku efforts
• I use it as a tool for journalistic cross-promotion, by posting links to stories I value and those I write/blog.

Posted by: Julie Posetti at January 4, 2009 6:48 PM | Permalink

Well I really started using twitter heavily this summer when I had to cover the Democratic national Convention. Some events aren't worthy of loggin in to your dashboard to creast a blog post and Twitter is a really fun way to give instant updates. Its also a way to distribute you blog feed so you can cross promote.

Ultimately the internet is about "Search" there is tons of content out there, but even the best algorythms can't replace human search engines. I gets lots of interesting links that people who I think are interesting found interesting.

Mainly I use it to microblog when I am on the road. I like its symplicity

Posted by: gem2001 at January 4, 2009 9:22 PM | Permalink

Twitter is my link to the world outside my small rural community. I can learn, observe, question, whine, analyze, amuse and be amused - any time I have the time. I can see what's happening in the legal world by accessing opinions and reports that I otherwise would not have access to, and I can converse with people who are interesting, intelligent and open. By using Twitter, I can tune into diverse discussions - with the ability to change direction at any time by searching for what's being said about a certain subject - from the huge win by the U. of Utah to quantum physics, to human rights, to raising children, to legal ethics.

Posted by: Marianne Sorensen at January 4, 2009 9:42 PM | Permalink

Twitter helps my journalism students see how ideas for stories are sometimes generated and shared; during the election season there was a flux of URLs, questions and ideas, both of their own and of those pundits they followed. It also became useful for them to learn how to be concise and to develop some technological literacy. (Many people with Ph.Ds assume students have the latter but I find they often do not.)

As a journalist and part-time professor, I use it for similar purposes and to get answers to questions that arise in my reporting and writing. I also use it, to a lesser degree, to push URLs of stories I've written. Nevertheless, like many responders here, I relish seeing what people are thinking about and reading the chronicles of someone's immediate world, whether it's personal or professional, or more often than not, a complete stranger until you meet him or her on Twitter.

It's also invisible and private in a way that IM is not--you can be logged in and reading the Tweets of others and no one sees you --and provides a more efficient broadcast than IM when you are trying to take a virtual pulse on an idea.

Yes, I've gone past 140.........

Posted by: carrie havranek at January 4, 2009 10:38 PM | Permalink

As a technology professor with Twitter (@selil) I can create a deep rich life long engagement from lecture hall to career with my students and share with my colleagues.

Posted by: Selil [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 4, 2009 11:29 PM | Permalink

Hi Jay,

I'm a research academic at the University of New South Wales. I've just finished writing a piece on Twitter, so these questions are also on my mind at the moment. But speaking from the personal side of things, here's my two cents:

*I'm interested in Twitter as a mode of 'background listening'. Multiple channels of news, phatic chatter, research leads, personal updates and LOLcats will flow past me every day: some I engage with, others I skim. It all generates a kind of diffuse familiarity - with a wide range of topics and events, as well as with the everyday details of human lives.

In Twitter speak then?

It's highly granular multichannelling of information (of all kinds) that is both intimate and instructive.

Posted by: Kate Crawford at January 5, 2009 12:06 AM | Permalink

Twitter is a simple push notifier and RSS generator for my blog, client news distribution, general updates. Perfect for it.

Posted by: pbump at January 5, 2009 12:08 AM | Permalink

Dishes never-ending social capital servings in whichever flavor - hard or soft - one desires via numerous permutation - list, graph, wordle.

Posted by: Jae Phine at January 5, 2009 12:35 AM | Permalink

Thanks, everyone. All of these posts are useful in helping me form my ideas.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at January 5, 2009 12:39 AM | Permalink

Hey Jay,

You have gathered a lot of great stuff here. I've been really enjoying your tweets and explorations. Here are my humble contributions:

Twitter Keynote:
Twitter is My Village:
Twitter Makes us More:

How did I get to be so focused on what makes Twitter different? Shel Israel interview explains it:

Best of luck with the assignment, can't wait to see the results.


Posted by: Laura "Pistachio" Fitton at January 5, 2009 1:23 AM | Permalink

Twitter shows how busy and complex the world is, but reminds me that every single action is taken by people who are human, approachable. (136)

Posted by: Fleep Tuque at January 5, 2009 1:25 AM | Permalink

Anyone who has ever used a chat room will recognize Twitter. The innovation was to remove the walls and let everyone talk to everyone else.

The other innovation of twitter is the char limit - forcing economy of words adds value to the discourse and scan-ability.

Searching Twitter provides unsolicited feedback - the most honest kind.

Third party tools like Tweetdeck let you "listen" to both sides of the conversation. I follow @jayrosen_nyu and have a search for "@jayrosen_nyu "

Posted by: @benshoemate at January 5, 2009 1:25 AM | Permalink

I needed to know what hotel my firm's paralegal should stay at in Urumqi, if we were going to film a deposition over the internet there. Within ten minutes, I had three very thoughtful responses.

Posted by: Dan at January 5, 2009 1:27 AM | Permalink

I use it for socializing, but where it shines is creating flash mobs. During a recent snowstorm there were at least three warm clothing drives for the homeless, based on Twitter, and they had a great response.

Posted by: blueberries at January 5, 2009 1:29 AM | Permalink

i was just looking at thi sother site, and thought this article might help. good luck

Posted by: drew at January 5, 2009 1:35 AM | Permalink

Twitter lets me learn from and share with other journalists who believe there's a way forward for news. Plus I get to follow @lanceamstrong!

(That last @ could easily be any one of a number. But you get my drift.)

Posted by: Sam Shepherd at January 5, 2009 1:40 AM | Permalink

Why I Tweet

As my industry burns/retrenches, to cultivate virtual mentors and rouse/be inspired by enterprising peers with whom I will share a lifelong foxhole.

To unearth sources, story ideas and connect with Web 2.0 types. To pass my business card to the world, and receive the world’s in return.

(1/2) My academic life and journalism career consist of two distinct periods: BT and AT (Before Twitter and After Twitter.)

(2/2) BT: Ink stained, nearing early-onset curmudgeondom and undersharer. AT: Evolving new media grok(er), link (and linker) between old/new and oversharer.

Posted by: Chris Cadelago @ccadelago at January 5, 2009 3:46 AM | Permalink

Extremely high signal to noise ratio.

That's the bullet point.

Note, though, that without (compressed) links to much longer pieces of writing, twitter would be much less valuable.

I'd also note that twittering forces a minimalist blogging style--much like atrios', one comment on one link. That kind of succinctness is not natural for most people who write for others. So, as poet's restricting themselves to the sonnet form can lead to unexpected creative fruit, forcing people to sharpen their prose to a few content rich nuggets is generally an improvement.

Posted by: jayackroyd at January 5, 2009 6:57 AM | Permalink

If I'd twittered that, "sharpen" would have been "condense".

Forgot to put up my twitter username. @jayackroyd.

Posted by: jayackroyd at January 5, 2009 6:59 AM | Permalink

I'm intrigued by the usage of the term "microblogging" for twitter. The 140-character format sets tweeting apart from prose (blog) forms in which something is developed. Tweeting is more gnomic, yet feels more social.

Posted by: tom matrullo at January 5, 2009 8:11 AM | Permalink


I use Twitter in two ways:

1) Professional - @EndTheRobocalls -

With this account I used (during the election) it to 1) tell people what the latest news was regarding Robo calls 2) to learn (via summize and twitter search) where trends / robo calls were occuring.

Towards the end of the election cycle I teamed up with @BigEasy and @Tunie to create a very cool Twitter Google Mashup Map to track, on a map, where robo calls were coming from.

2) Personally at - @IsCool - to learn from others and help others with the latest things that I / they find that are cool on Twitter and elsewhere.


Shaun Dakin
CEO and Founder
The National Political Do Not Contact Registry

Posted by: Shaun Dakin at January 5, 2009 10:52 AM | Permalink

Twitter means I don't have to waste time chasing down good thinking from multiple sources; it assembles it all for me in one place.

I use Twitter as a work tool; Facebook as a social tool. I do not mix the two.

Interesting that the industry I'm thinking of abandoning because they don't "get" social media -- the print media industry -- is actually far ahead on Twitter of the industry I'm thinking of moving to.

Posted by: eclisham at January 5, 2009 11:05 AM | Permalink

All the stuff that others have said, plus this: I use Twitter to make me smarter and to lighten my day. Many of the people I follow are both damned sharp about things I'm interested in -- and things they make me interested in -- and they're damned funny.


Posted by: John Robinson at January 5, 2009 11:26 AM | Permalink

Twitter is a streamlined way to share important information and treats users like adults capable of self-organization.

Posted by: Rita J. King at January 5, 2009 12:12 PM | Permalink

Twitter is a fun way to connect with my readers, discover new readers, find out the buzz, keep up to date and get fodder for my own blog.

I tweet at @bloggingmom67

Posted by: Gina Chen at January 5, 2009 12:14 PM | Permalink

Twitter is like having a remote control with access to 5 million channels. I have my 200 favorites, but I also like the ability to search for ones I don't usually follow, like "Gaza" or "Minnesota recount."

Posted by: Lou Heldman at January 5, 2009 1:26 PM | Permalink

I use Twitter to see what's going on where I am not or can't be. I also meet people I otherwise wouldn't, personally and professionally. (136)

Posted by: Kim Nash at January 5, 2009 1:31 PM | Permalink

I use Twitter to stay in touch with colleagues around the state. As one of the sys admins for our course mgt system great way to get help/share ideas. I also use twitter to keep up with news from around the world, my former home town and to share ideas and learn from others. I really enjoy following the posts and seeing where the adventure may go. I also liked the color wars from last year!

Posted by: Mary N at January 5, 2009 2:34 PM | Permalink

I use Twitter as my go to RSS-feed reader that has more of a human touch and personality than say, NetNewsWire. (112)

I use Twitter to find out what brands and services are pissing off people and monitoring if any are my clients. (112)


Posted by: Rich Young at January 5, 2009 4:19 PM | Permalink

I use twitter to network and keep abreast professionally (@securitytwits), for my hobby (@HamTwits), for friends and for fun. (125)

Posted by: Tim at January 5, 2009 7:15 PM | Permalink

OCD news/opinion junkie here, so blogs are a huge time-suck. Tweets feed the addiction, filter news, make me more productive. (140)

Posted by: paxr55 at January 5, 2009 7:31 PM | Permalink

6. What a Twitter “feed” is, where its value lies, and how it compares to a traditional blog.

My Twitter feed is my thoughts, some of which evolve into ideas…on my blog.

8. Some terrible things about Twitter for a writer: can’t edit it, the archiving sucks, can’t keep up with follower growth and “hand add” easily.

Tweet before your internal editor second-guesses your thought. Thoughts are what you have, ideas are for specific audiences.

Tweets are the stage before 'writing' - let go of getting it right before you express.

9. And then, the thing I need your help with: what do I actually use Twitter for?

Twitter is an extension of my blog which is an infinitely expandable entry on my CV in the 'interests' section.

Twitter problems:

If too many more people use Twitter it will get unwieldy because of the noise of too many interleaved reasons for tweeting on the main feed.

Posted by: Alex Gollner at January 5, 2009 8:45 PM | Permalink

Tinder through "search"; kindling by "following". Fuel.

@FauxNeme (veteran writer/advocate for science/technology-based concerns).

Posted by: Deborah Neville at January 5, 2009 11:03 PM | Permalink

I'm a researcher and tutor in new media technologies at QUT.

I use Twitter to:

• get up to the minute information;

• connect with people in my field;

• listen to a wide range of viewpoints and information;

• see social networking in action; and

• enjoy the absolute sense of community.

Posted by: Deb Adams at January 6, 2009 2:08 AM | Permalink

Kevin Anderson: "I have used Twitter both socially and professionally. During the US elections, I traveled across the country, and it was invaluable as a reporting and community tool. It's incredibly light-weight. With the end of mobile service in the UK, I think it's easy to forget how effective a bridge it is between the web and mobile users."

I also found this comment at another blog to be helpful.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at January 6, 2009 10:21 AM | Permalink

i don't use twitter it uses me

twitter is like your mind in that things flash by so fast you have to suspend it to catch it - i use twitter to have my mind boggled and refreshed every time

i fought twitter from the first i joined early on - but i didn't use it - i don't have bandwidth for chatter and chat rooms - but i think twitter is an extension of your mind and an extension of others minds - i have my twitter update my facebook and also use it for when i post things from my blog it goes to twitter then to facebook at same times

twitter is an idea machine if you listen carefully - it will blow your mind - i use twitter to blow my mind sometimes when its tired of my own voice

i use twitter to dream

i don't use twitter it uses me - oh i said that already - see on twitter you can repeat yourself odd-infinitum -

Posted by: geo geller at January 6, 2009 3:41 PM | Permalink

My personal "Why I Twitter" essay is here.

Posted by: limeonaire at January 6, 2009 4:26 PM | Permalink

Twitter as ambient neighborhood conversation... on a global level.

News suddenly becomes something that happened to someone you know (or a couple of degrees separated) versus some distant and removed, non-reality.

Posted by: Humera Fasihuddin at January 6, 2009 10:06 PM | Permalink

I hear about things on Twitter long before I hear about them in the traditional media. And the topics are much more suited to my interests.


Posted by: Cindy Royal at January 7, 2009 10:56 AM | Permalink

I use it to follow about 5 people who are excellent content creation professionals-example Dave Winer ShelIsrael Frank Eliason and a few more and you !

Posted by: marshal sandler at January 7, 2009 1:13 PM | Permalink

I use Twitter to teach my class to write news leads under tight length and time constraints. Also, students can learn by sharing.

Posted by: Keith King at January 7, 2009 2:01 PM | Permalink

Pick one (or both):

Twitter is the restriction my poetic line needs. An empty box with a character limit attached is a hell of an editor to try to placate. (136)

Twitter keeps me sane inside the graduate school bubble by bringing news and ideas to my mobile phone. Twitter is a hivemind in my pocket. (138)

Posted by: Josette at January 7, 2009 10:28 PM | Permalink

If online life's like high school, then Twitter is its hallways . . . between classes.

Posted by: geoperdis at January 7, 2009 10:30 PM | Permalink

I use Twitter to interact with interesting & interested persons -- as medium thru which to share/exchange thoughts, ideas, news, support. [137c]

Posted by: Molly Block at January 7, 2009 10:33 PM | Permalink

Here J.R. uses Twitter routinely to 1) track his new thinking and 2) give others fresh reason to think with him:

Posted by: Ken Smith at January 8, 2009 3:03 PM | Permalink

Twitter forces you to be pithy and poetic if you're serious about exchanging ideas. You can also be as silly and banal as you want (but it still has to be pithy). It's great practice for getting to the heart of any matter. Twitter is a very efficient medium of exchange.

Posted by: Miriam Gordon at January 9, 2009 12:02 AM | Permalink

Hey Jay

Twitter useful for:

1. socialising and procrastinating
2. setting up and promoting events
3. promoting ideas, promoting my own blog
4. getting answers to questions
5. linking up with people when travelling to other countries
6. -- instant dipstick on what people think on certain issues
7. getting breaking news (real breaking news before CNN's breaking new)
8. stalking celebrities :-)

Posted by: matthew buckland at January 9, 2009 8:45 AM | Permalink

Twitter - sharing my ideas and passion in concise and powerful statements; keeping up with what is current and relevant in a shared vision.

Posted by: Alban Fenle at January 9, 2009 4:17 PM | Permalink

"In this talk, I’m going to tell you what twitter is, look at some of the ways people use it, and
finally tell you about how we’re using it here at the Times."

Posted by: Will at January 10, 2009 1:59 PM | Permalink

Posted by: Will at January 10, 2009 2:06 PM | Permalink

whoops, I meant to post all 3 of those together. FAIL.

Posted by: Will at January 10, 2009 2:08 PM | Permalink

Why are we still hearing so much about Twitter?

Twitter obviously isn't intrinsically entertaining. It's a benign service – in the same way that the internet would be "boring" if all it contained was the torpid mumblings of teenage goths, or swivel-eyed racists commenting on every news story as if it were an affront to their personal freedom. You can't criticise Twitter for being boring if you don't contribute to the pool; that would be like heaping derision on an empty Tupperware box for not containing a delicious ham sandwich.

So forget the endless, tedious speculation about whether the Twitterer who claims to be Jeremy Clarkson is actually Jeremy Clarkson. Ignore the self-publicising internet entrepreneurs who spend a day following 18,000 random people purely in order to attract attention. Ignore the companies and PR agencies hell-bent on turning it into an advertising platform. And just get on there to redress the balance. Or don't – I mean, it's a free country, after all.

The part in italics made me laugh.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at January 10, 2009 5:42 PM | Permalink

I like the part in italics too, Jay!

Posted by: Miriam Gordon at January 13, 2009 6:05 PM | Permalink

i love twitter because I love cnn. I am amazed at the number of people who follow me because of silly quips and useless syllogisms. Well useless if you don't have to come back at people who come at you, but HOT none the less.

Posted by: jon perry | at January 13, 2009 11:53 PM | Permalink

I am new (50 days about) on Twitter and came in cold, but I am slowly getting the hang of it. I am using it as the ultimate clipping service, I guess that happens first (watch). I am beginning to communicate (slowly participate). I am trying to help others newer then me and who know even less about Twitter. BUT I am above all fascinated by who uses it and why..... and how will it evolve. I love the energy and the speed and the information.

Posted by: CASUDI at January 14, 2009 1:57 AM | Permalink

I use Twitter to point people to my blog posts, at least what I consider my most noteable, provocative or contrarian ones.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly at January 17, 2009 2:54 AM | Permalink

David Pogue, technology columnist for the New York Times:

I'll admit that, for the longest time, I was exasperated by the Twitter hype. Like the world needs ANOTHER ego-massaging, social-networking time drain? Between e-mail and blogs and Web sites and Facebook and chat and text messages, who on earth has the bandwidth to keep interrupting the day to visit a Web site and type in, "I'm now having lunch"? And to read the same stuff being broadcast by a hundred other people?

Then my eyes were opened. A few months ago, I was one of 12 judges for a MacArthur grant program in Chicago. As we looked over one particular application, someone asked, "Hasn't this project been tried before?"

Everyone looked blankly at each other.

Then the guy sitting next to me typed into the Twitter box. He posed the question to his followers. Within 30 seconds, two people replied, via Twitter, that it had been done before. And they provided links.

The fellow judge had just harnessed the wisdom of his followers in real time. No e-mail, chat, Web page, phone call or FedEx package could have achieved the same thing.

I was impressed.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at January 17, 2009 9:26 PM | Permalink

As a result of Twitter I received a phone call from a CNN reporter seeking comment on a story. Unfortunately the reporter wasn't using Twitter as a way to generate conversation and practice a new journalism rather it was used merely as a way to find "experts." You can read the whole story here. A classic tale of the inability to understand the new digital communication structures.

Posted by: Dave Parry at January 24, 2009 9:32 AM | Permalink

From the Intro