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Sara Wiseman: is lifestreaming

March 14, 2011

Although I signed up for Twitter last fall, I hadn’t used the service much. So this week, I really tried to learn how to make use of it. I found more people to follow, I connected my Facebook and Twitter accounts using Tweetdeck, I uploaded a photo using Twitpic, I retweeted, and I made my first tweet directed @someone.

Here’s my Twitpic.

To me, Facebook and Twitter are very different tools. Hardly any of my Facebook friends are on Twitter. Facebook, to me, has been a great way to stay in touch with old acquaintances across the country and to keep connected with friends I see every day. My Facebook connections often post links that interest me – I have found out about new music, documentaries, events, and news through friends with common interests. When I signed up for Twitter, I couldn’t imagine what use another social networking site could be to me. I was, however, quickly impressed by the things it could do that Facebook couldn’t. By following high profile people, Twitter gives me greater direct access to information on topics that interest me than Facebook can. For instance, I follow Steve Silberman, a writer for Wired magazine and also a gay activist, Buddhist, counterculture representative from the San Francisco Bay area. Throughout the semester I’ve been reposting on Edmodo some of the interesting links he has tweeted. Twitter makes it much easier to connect with high profile figures – in any area of interest – than on Facebook. My husband (who doesn’t have his own Twitter account) has me following a number of Buddhist rinpoches. And during Canada Reads last month, the constant flow of tweets from across the country really felt like a national conversation.

But probably the best thing about Twitter is the search function. With this function, I felt like I could connect with a “global chat” – as cliché as that sounds. And before this week’s assignment I didn’t know about the Google Realtime search – a great function for people who aren’t using Twitter because it allows you to search public tweets. Like a regular Google search, a Google Realtime search or Twitter search is not a bad way to start researching a topic of interest – the latest tweets on a subject can provide links from people who are already doing the research. It reminded me of the power of connections we read about in last week’s assignment – only now we can be connected around the world in far less than six degrees! I searched for “deficiencies in a gluten-free diet”, which linked me to a blog which linked me to information I’ve been trying to find for ages. (It’s an obscure interest of mine, and not a lot of research has been done on it yet. Regular Google searches – and even searches on UWO’s library databases – mostly return information on deficiencies caused by a gluten intolerance).

Here’s a cool image I found depicting the “six degrees of Lois Weisberg”:

six degrees of Lois Weisberg

And for the record, I found out about Owsley Stanley’s death on Twitter way before anyone posted about it on Facebook… RIP Owsley.

Owsley Stanley

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