23 Things for Archivists

Thing 8: Microblogging

By Kate Theimer

Microblogging, as it sounds, is blogging on a very small scale. Microbloggers publish extremely short updates or messages—140 characters for Twitter. The platform provided by Twitter has quickly risen to dominate this field, and the verb “to twitter” (or “to tweet”) has entered the public vocabulary, becoming popularly synonymous with microblogging. While there are other microblogging services, Twitter is by far the most popular with the public, and so with cultural institutions like museums, libraries, and archives.

You may notice a similarity between updating your Facebook status and writing a tweet. Recent changes to the Facebook home page interface have made Facebook status and other kinds of updates act much more like microblogging. In fact, you can link your Facebook and Twitter accounts so that you can “tweet” on your Twitter account the information you select to share from your Facebook account. You can also go the other way and share on Facebook the updates you make on Twitter. There are several applications for this. (If you’re interested, click on “Applications” on the lower left of your Facebook screen and search for “Twitter.”)

There are many ways to access Twitter, including accessing it via the Web interface (i.e., going to twitter.com), using a “Twitter client” (such as TweetDeck, Twitterfeed, HootSuite, and Twhirl), and using applications from your cell phone.

Tasks

  1. Set up your account by going to Twitter and selecting “Sign up now.” You will have to provide a name (but you don’t have to use your whole name or even your real name), user name (the name that will display for your account), password, and email. Once you have an account you can personalize it by adding your “one line bio” and location, as well a picture that will represent your account. You can also select one of the background patterns provided by Twitter to serve as the wallpaper for your account or you can upload an image of your own. This is also the time to select whether you want your account to be “locked” or open.  Twitter provides helpful FAQs on a lot of these issues.
  2. Start following some people and organizations. You’re welcome to follow 23 Things for Archivists (@things4archives), ArchivesNext (Kate Theimer, @archivesnext), Spellbound Blog (Jeanne Kramer, @spellboundblog), and SAA to start with (@archivists_org). You can also find people or organizations to follow by searching for them (go to “Find People” at the top right of the screen). Or you can look at lists of archivists, archives, and archival organizations on ArchivesNext on Twitter; look in the sidebar at the right for the lists. Although most archives and cultural organizations use Twitter for traditional information sharing, some are using it for sharing historical information such as tweeting diaries—see @Kennedy1961, @eVIIpc, @bfffranklin, @JQAdams_MHS, and @UKWarCabinet. Accounts that tweet from the point of view of a part of the collection, such as @SUETheTRex and @tenementmuseum, are also interesting. The account @Schaghenletter was another good example of this, although it’s not currently active. 
  3. Join in the conversation! Write some tweets of your own or re-tweet things that you like from those you are following. (To retweet, use the “retweet” button or just copy the text of the tweet and add RT before the original tweeter’s name.)  Just be aware that unless your account is “locked” your tweets are public and searchable.

Advanced

  • Choose another way of accessing Twitter, through one of the clients listed above (and here’s a list of the “top ten most popular”). 

Blog Prompts

  • At the end of the week discuss on your blog what you think of Twitter so far. Who do you choose to follow and what did you learn?
  • There are lots of archives, museums, and libraries on Twitter. Did you explore how they are using it? Who do you think does a good job?

Resources

  1. […] 3?  Already??  Yep!  This is my Thing 3, which is Thing 6 on the Library list and Thing 8 on the Archives […]

  2. […] which will be the focus of this post.  Microblogging in general is Thing 6 on the library list and Thing 8 on the archives […]

  3. […] this Thing, Kate Theimer is back and talking about the various uses of microblogging platforms that […]

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