Archive for December 14th, 2008

“Twitter is becoming ever-more powerful. You can tell when businesses, brands and governments start putting skin in the game.” so says Mitch Joel in a post on Six Pixels of Separation entitled Why you need to be looking at Twitter.

Today, as Winter tightens its grip on credit-crunched and completely financially knackered Britain, I get my podcasting kit and WWII helmet out and trawl the world to report on Twitter… the social media phenomenon for ‘staying connected in real time’.

There are, fortunately, a fair number of articles on Twitter, written by social media experts, pundits and self proclaimed smart asses out there on what we used to call the information super highway… relieving me of the awesome responsibility of having to add to the growing list of of pundits telling you WHY YOU MUST USE TWITTER!  I’ll put a brief list of these articles at the end if I am still sober enough when I finish this report to remember to do so.

My review of TWITTER! is going to be quite different. It is a personal statement about my *journey* for self discovery and improvement and how I used TWITTER! to rebuild my shattered life…. OK…OK… it isn’t – but I am going to review Twitter as I see it, pulling no punches, stepping up to the plate…. to tell it straight.

So… where do I start? I’m on Twitter. Why? – I answer that in an interview which I shall refer to again as I close this piece.

Bob Ambrogi, US lawyer, Tweeter and serious blogger,  gave a very good reality check on Twitter and it is a pleasure to quote it here: “Tweets are trees falling in the forest. What matters is who hears them.”

He’s got a point and it is a good one because there is a fantastic amount of output out there and it is very easy to get buried in a mass of information, noise, comment, social chit  chat and spam. The basic idea is that Twitter is a real time communication tool, enabling you to receive information from those you *follow*, provide information to your *followers* and *Block* those you don’t want to follow you (You may not be that keen to have @FBIAgentElliotNess following you).

AND..there are pleasures to be had, as the wine kicks in, to *unfollow* people by deleting them from your list of *followers*.  Be warned however.  I tried to *unfollow* some spammers and ended up unfollowing some people I wanted to follow…  so I had to re-follow them.  This, a bottle of red in, is not as easy as it sounds. Anyway… I hope the ‘lucid’ explanation I have provided above gives you a taste of what Twitter is and does!  Frankly – it’s easy – get on to Twitter and try it out.

Let me give you a taste of Twitter by extracting examples from the people (*Tweeps* or Twitterati?) I follow… in no particular order of importance or ranking.

First up, to illustrate the PR and marketing benefit of Twitter,  is a serial twitterer, fuelled, some say,  by fantastic quantities of Seattle coffee, who pumps out Tweets with the enthusiasm of a  50 Cal machine gunner on an Apache helicopterKevin O’Keefe author of the Real Lawyers have blogs blog.

Next… we have the excellent list put together by JDTwit – a list of lawyer bloggers, mainly from the US – but a few Brits have managed to get off their arses to get on the list. An astonishing 561 lawyer / legal sector twitterers are on that list as at 1.00 pm GMT today.  This list must surely be a first point of contact if you want to follow lawyers.

The other day I found myself being followed by a firearms expert and instructor. This is not something that happens to me every day… so, of course, I had to follow back – and I am glad I did. Joel Rosenberg knows what he is talking about and is a Twitterer who *engages* in debate, repartee and even the nonsense I come up with on Twitter. He has, only recently, outed me as being the man in the  ‘Batman’ outfit in Sheffield. .

Before we turn to the social side of Twitter and to avoid this report turning into a complete and utter monster of a post – let me say that the Canadians are also pretty active.  There are several I follow – most notably Steve Matthews, the founder of Stem Legal and a ‘fun loving librarian’ and Connie Crosby, who describes herself as a “Guerilla Librarian’ – which I liked.

Talking of Librarians and Info/IT specialists… there are quite a few on Twitter.  There is iOverlord, who appears to spend much of his leisure time drinking, going to gigs or football matches and then tweeting about being mildly hungover the next day!  There is Jim Milles Director of the Law Library, Professor of Law University at Buffalo Law School who can be relied on to provide a sardonic twist, and, back in the UK – Jaffne, littlestar19,and stupidgirl_no1.  I shall return, for the reasons given below, to uber-librarian @infobunny.

On the Information side – although Nick is a bit baffled by the amount of time some of us waste on Twitter – no article on Twitter could be complete without mention of leading UK legal information doyen and guru, Nick Holmes – author of the Binary Law blog and founder of InfoLaw.

Stephen Fry is on Twitter – big time. A serial Tweeter, Stephen Fry kept us all informed on a recent filming trip to Africa and, most recently, has provided a snapshot of his trip to New York – complete with photographs.

There are so many different uses for Twitter, so I end with one of my favourite uses of Twitter: Social chit chat, a bit of mildly drunken posting and interaction with fellow bloggers and tweeters.  Each to his own.. or.. her own.  Let me give you a flavour of… or for our American friends *flavor*….

I’m interested in discovering more about the US legal system. Twitter and Blawg Review provides a good jumping on point.

I spend a fair bit of time late at night exchanging tweets with US lawyers… @Scottgreenfield (Simple Justice blog), @gideonstrumpet (A Public Defender blog) , @colinsamuels (Infamy or Praise – three time Blawg Review winner)  and these screen shots will give you an idea of the import of matters discussed.  (These attorneys tend to use their excellent blogs for the serious stuff  so I have given blog links to each, rather than twitter links.)

And… so finally to the purely social, at times surreal, side of Twitter.

You really have to see this for yourself – but I’ll do my best to give you an idea of how surreal.  Some UK blawgers are not terribly serious about writing legal content on their blogs and this is, possibly, intensified when they escape for a moment from the onerous burden of being lawyers or librarians to tweet.

We have uber-librarian @infobunny, prolific twitterer, Blip DJ and, most recently, founder of #TeamNun who conjured up an extraordinary Twitter meme about bumsandgin.  Basically, she has persuaded a group of possibly otherwise sensible twitterers to provide pictures of their bums while clasping a bottle of gin in the right or left hand. These pictures may be viewed in a truly remarkable video produced by @emargee… a must see if you want to know what these guys are on!

Participants in this video who  I follow include @infobunny, @Jaffne, @rah_rah, @ManxStef.

@johnbolch – a frequent user of Twitter and author of Family Lore is… curiously… not involved in the bumsandgin project!  I, too, have declined to take a photograph of my arse – but maybe on another occasion!

Curiously… the scourge of the blawgosphere and Twitter.. GEEKLAWYER… is not revealing his gin and bum – despite being *buff*…. but he makes up for this by getting on the train to go to Yorkshire for the weekend on the wrong day, by writing astonishingly direct stuff on his blog, and by writing legal opinions while consuming industrial quntities of mead and tweeting at the same time. A one off….. his head?

Something for Christmas on TWITTER!!!… of course. @Infobunny has been busy with her Pirate Christmas Advent Calendar. I look every day and I don’t ever celebrate Christmas.

And… finally… as we say in the news  world.  Why do I *Tweet*? I answered this question in an interview  with an obscure US television channel only this morning.  I am an existentialist.  I tweet, therefore I am.

Watch the movie interview?

Apologies to those I have left out – but…. I just have to go now and have a glass of red!….Hope this helps to put your thoughts on TWITTER!!! into some form of perspective… Have a good one.


This post replaced the advertised edition of Postcard from The Boat.  Charon is now sitting in state at his desk on Das Boot drinking a bit of cheapo Italian wine and reading the News of the Screws and other quality UK newspapers…

Charon also regrets that he is unable to remember where all those articles written by Pundits about Twitter are.  I’m sure you’ll find them… on Twitter… or Google… should you be minded to do so.
Update posted by Dr Charon MD…. Charon’s cousin from New York – an expert in all things medical.

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I went to bed on Saturday night in my cabin on the boat full of good intentions. I planned to wake on Sunday morning and write about the great problems our world is facing.  Unfortunately, I woke up at 04.09.  I tried to resist  the impulse to go on to  Twitter.  I was, I regret, unable to do so.  I found @Gideonstrumpet,  the author of the  A Public Defender blog in the US (I did a podcast with him last Sunday)  was still up and on Twitter. I should explain that Gideon is in Connecticut, USA.  It was nearing midnight for him.   He invited me to have a glass of red wine, after enquiring whether it may be too early for me.  It was too early for me – but as luck would have it, I did happen to have the rest of a bottle from the previous evening to hand. I make no admissions as to whether I drank the rest of that bottle.

I decided to be interviewed by an obscure US TV station on the Boat – the results are here.
I was asked why I blog and use Twitter.

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