First thoughts on Twitter

I need to admit up front that I was extremely hesitant about jumping on the Twitter bandwagon. I had an account but didn’t use it at all. I realise now that I was waiting for someone to tell me why I’d want to use it and explain what it was for exactly.

Just 140 characters! really wasn’t enough to sway me. Follow anyone! why would I want to, was my thought. I haven’t really looked at how Twitter explain and sell their idea (frankly I don’t think they need to do much of that by now), but none of what I was hearing about it seemed to have anything to do with what I wanted to use the Internet for.

However! Once I found out that a lot of announcements, links and events that I was interested in were being shared on Twitter more than email lists or websites, it became clear to me that not only did I need to jump on board, if I wanted to engage in and with the heritage/museum/history industries, there really wasn’t any choice.

So, just over a month of serious use of Twitter, what have I discovered?

Firstly, it is encouraging and lovely to be followed by people who matter to you (in my case these are museums, archives and other cool places) and a little weird to be followed by people that seem to have no connection with you whatsoever.

Secondly, museums on twitter are really operating just like an exhibition. This is extra cool. They are using Twitter and their digital collections to drill down to individual items in their collections. It isn’t just that they have websites with collections that can be viewed, searched or browsed, this can be overwhelming – I want to look at something interesting but where do I start? – but they are providing a point of entry for you. Even better, if you interact with them about the links they are tweeting, they often come back with more things you might find interesting.

Following something like #collectionfishing is even more cool because it becomes like a nations (I include NZ) wide exhibition with all sorts of museums, libraries and archives contributing to the theme of the week. Like a mega-exhibition. Incidentally, I’m looking forward to the presentation at the Museums Australia National Conference in Melbourne about this from @museumvictoria and am sure to have more to say!

Thirdly, I am heading to way more exhibitions than I would have normally on this upcoming trip to Melbourne simply and only because the museums’ tweets have generated excitement for me about going to see them.

Lastly, I LOVE being able to ask a questions and interact with organisations this way. It is personal and professional and doesn’t waste time.

So, probably fairly obviously, my overall impressions of Twitter have been very positive. And I’m developing a genuine fondness for those I follow. Keep it up tweeps!!

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