Thursday, January 21, 2010

"In Defense and Explanation of Twitter"

I wrote the following for a new-grad program application, and thought I would post these thoughts...

Oh, Twitter. It is definitely one of the tech buzzwords of today. Visit a few blogs and company sites and you are bound to run across various designs of “follow me on Twitter!” buttons. Though I have zero formal training in marketing, it would make sense that many view Twitter as one of the latest-and-greatest web application bandwagons through which to expand one's audience. On the other hand, well-known personalities, especially celebrities, are likely to collect thousands upon thousands of followers—and could easily utilize the service to communicate with them directly and personally. (Such, I might add, is very exciting from the fan's end. I know this from personal experience!) Many also tout Twitter as a source for disseminating and reading breaking news before it can be posted or shared via other avenues.

To me, the experience of Twitter is a bit different. I began with what I would suppose is a typical non-Twitter-user's view: the question, “what is the point of it?”, followed by dismissively waving it off. I specifically remember once observing on a friend's laptop screen that he and several others were writing messages on Twitter back and forth to each other. My thought at the time was that I could not believe they were involved in such a silly waste of time. Somehow, though, my Digital-Media-Design-major's curiosity got the best of me. I found myself walking around with thoughts of approximately one hundred forty characters in length popping into my mind. After a couple of days this started driving me a little crazy, so I logged on and (with some disappointment) settled on the username I really wanted but preceded by an underscore. Oh well.

In the beginning of my Twitter days, of course, I did not really know what I was doing. I eagerly searched for and followed people I knew in “real life” and hoped that they followed me back. I fell prey to tweeting (with some repetitiveness) about what I was doing at the moment, if I was particularly loving it. As I think we tend to do—particularly these days via social networking applications—I put my thoughts out there in the hopes that others would find my online persona of at least mild interest or amusement and be thus inspired to follow me.

Along the timeline of my first few months getting really into Twitter, I began to change my approach. I sought out users who posted links to content I found relevant to my potential career path. I began to actually take up others on their Follow Friday recommendations instead of skipping over tweets filled with usernames. I followed people who were just plain fun, quirky, or made me smile. Perhaps most importantly, though, I realized that Twitter is most enjoyable after you transition from passively taking in others' information and thoughts as they stream in front of your eyes (and occasionally outputting your own) to interacting with others. It is probably easy to forget that behind the tweets is a real person typing them from their laptop or mobile phone. I discovered that if I started replying to what others were saying, many were often inclined to reply back and converse. For a long time I had been skeptical about talking with strangers in an online venue, but at least in the context of Twitter, my opinion has changed. Thanks to Twitter, I am able to connect with friendly people from anywhere in the world whom I doubt I would ever meet otherwise.

Let me end with probably my most personally exciting Twitter story. Thanks to a particular Twitter user whose posts and conversation I greatly enjoy, I connected with another Twitter user. She and I exchanged several messages and discovered common interests. I learned that she helps teach a course at Penn, occasionally flying to Philadelphia to be on campus. One of the times she was here, we happened to have a mutual free moment and met up. I found her thoroughly enjoyable and positive. If not for Twitter, we most likely would never have met. In the future, hopefully, we will be able to go rock climbing together!

A final note: yes, I agree, there is a lot of noise on Twitter. I see this whenever I search the trending topics. Therefore, the key is to find and follow the people who post valuable content, who are friendly and interesting and willing to interact. Is this not what we wish to do in “real life”, as well?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

about me [15-26] ~ Useless Facts version

  1. I love earrings, especially long dangling ones, studs, and interesting ones.  I have two piercings in each ear.
  2. I have lots of sweatshirts and I love sweatpants.
  3. I have lived in my little town in New Jersey for my whole life.
  4. I have never once chewed gum, and have no plans to do so in the future.
  5. I have a now-and-then obsession with categorizing things, like my Firefox bookmarks.
  6. Bathing suit shopping is one of my favorite activities.
  7. I always misuse the word "plug" by referring to outlets (in the wall) as plugs.  However, everyone always seems to know what I'm talking about. :)
  8. I highly enjoy spontaneous dance parties by myself in my room.  Hey, some songs just need to be danced to! (several examples...)
  9. I often eat Starbucks pastries as substitutes for breakfast or when I'm hungry but my meal schedule is all screwed up.
  10. I consider doing laundry to be "fake productivity" - you're getting something done, but you're really just avoiding many other things (which are probably more mentally tasking) that you need to do.  At least, that's my situation, haha.
  11. I rarely bother with makeup, but I like it nonetheless.
  12. I like to live in somewhat messy conditions (e.g. papers, receipts, and the like on my desk, and clothes piled on my chair - some clean, some worn) because it feels more relaxed than a highly organized space.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

That road

My butt's glued to the hard wooden chair; I'm plugged into my music; my mind's in another world entirely from my body.  I'm lost in a history I've mostly forgotten.  I mean, isn't this the way it works better?  When everything happens by accident, because you aren't paying attention to it like that?  For some time now I've been rollercoastering (no that's not a word) through waves of confusion, lulls, new and old interactions.  Yeah, in a way, it's nice and all.

But it's like you're swimming, and then one day you come up to breathe.  The air is a taste of something possibly unknown and beautiful.  Inhale, exhale... if there's even the time to do that.  The water is all around, though.  Allowing no mercy, it takes you back.  Then all you can do is keep on going.

Is it worth all the hours of a mind lost in pondering and thoughts of old?  There's always the practical path.  If I go that way, though, I think I lose the depth on both ends, the good and the bad.  And I just might want that depth, its pain along with it.

music of the mood: Brazilian Girls – Don't Stop and iiO - Rapture (Soulside Chillout Mix)

My outlook on my skills and future, from a year ago


(2:37:53 AM) me: i'm jealous
(2:38:02 AM) friend: you want to work at facebook?
(2:38:33 AM) me: sure
(2:39:14 AM) friend: want to write web code and do photoshop all day?
(2:39:42 AM) me: should i not?
(2:39:51 AM) friend: oh, i didn't know that's something you were interested in
(2:40:19 AM) me: lol
(2:40:23 AM) me: i have to try to be interested in something.
(2:40:30 AM) me: since i kinda suck at everythign artistic
(2:42:50 AM) friend: i doubt that
(2:42:56 AM) me: haha