Monday, 31 January 2011

Tips for the Twitter-curious 4. Getting-by in Twitter-speak.

Hello hello.

Welcome to Round 4 of
Tips for the Twitter-curious! If you don't know what that is, or you just want to catch-up on the previous lessons, they're all listed here.

After a whole weekend to digest the content and to experiment with the ideas I've offered up so far, tell me ... are you still curious?

  • is that curious-terrified or curious-brave?
  • Or are you like @gingersburns who said she used to curious-skeptical but has lost the skepticism after reading my first post [You see!! I could have been a lawyer after all!!]
  • Are you already Tweeting away like a canary?
  • An old-Tweeter-learning-new-tricks?
  • Or are you still a-firm-anti-Tweeter? What? Still??!!!

If I've still not whetted your Twittter whistle [trying saying that fast 3 times!] then the classes on Wednesday and Friday are definitely going to be worth dropping in for. I'll be going all-out [again!] to detail how Twitter can be used for some far more practical purposes than you might expect. I'm hoping to demonstrate how time spent on Twitter really needn't be [entirely] a frivolous frippery or a waste of your free-time. But that's for the days to come ...

Today were adding to the Twitter-vocabulary we've built up over the first 3 classes:

We've already run into some strange new terms and forms of grammar in previous lessons, such as:

  • the all-important grappling with @mentions and Timelines from Lesson 2; and ...
  • how and when to use the #ff hashtag from Lesson 3.

So let's now add-in a few more items to your Conversational-Twitterish phrase book! Starting with RTs ...

RTs - ReTweeting - or 'sharing the love'!

Retweeting is an easy way to share something with others;

  • This could be anything from a tweet which made you laugh to one with something you can help spread the word about;

Retweet anything you think deserves a wider audience or which helps someone out:

  • A question which someone needs answering stands more chance the more people pass it on by RTing;
  • A link to a friend's shop can drive new traffic in their direction; and ...
  • An event you think your followers will be interested in reaches the right pairs of eyes!

Beneath the tweet you want to share simply click Retweet and then everyone who Follows you will see it in their Timeline:

When people you are Following retweet something it's a good way for you to:

  • Build your network - people often retweet things by their friends. If you like the sound of their tweets - follow them too;
  • Expand your knowledge of the kind of people on Twitter - you'll see Retweets featuring people you never knew were on there! Once you know ... you can Follow them too!
  • Gain a broader picture of the personality of someone you Follow - based on the kind of things they Retweet you get to see what's important to them.

You can even see if anyone's RTd anything of yours under the Retweets tab on your Homepage!

Retweeting is definitely a useful tool to create a feeling that you're part of a broader conversation and is a simple way to show solidarity and support to others too.

Let's move on now to the hashtag ...

What's a hashtag and why should I use one?
The use of a hashtag is, like conquering the use of Lists and remembering to check your @Mentions page, another of the ways you can filter down the abundance of information on Twitter in order to focus on one simplified aspect. But what is one?

  • At it's most basic a Twitter hashtag is any phrase or word which has a '#' or 'hash' symbol in front of it.
  • Take, for example '#twittercurious' the hashtag I've been using whenever I refer to my class:

  • Anytime you use the '#' symbol before a word, you turn that word into an active link;
  • Clicking on the link will leadyou to a filtered list of all the times that specific hashtag has been used;

This is useful if you want to be in-the-loop and chat with lots of people about the same thing - so long as everyone uses the exact same hashtag and adds it to their tweet. For example:

  • People wrting about the new products etc featured at The Craft & Hobby Show in LA have been using the #CHA or #CHAshow hashtag to mark their messages;
  • Then anyone wanting to read about the same things can just click and see the whole gamut of CHA-themed tweets!

One amazing practical use for this is in exploiting the filtered Timeline you get by clicking on a certain hashtag ... to hold your own live web-chats like those organised by crafterminds.com site:

To hold your own similar live chat all you need to do is:

  • Agree on the hashtag you're all going to use;
  • Set a date and time;
  • Sit down > tweet > include the hashtag each time;
  • Click the hashtag > go to the full list - which is ever-updating with new tweets;
  • Have a whole [free, inclusive] back and forth conversation!

There's actually another, less easy to explain, way in which people use hashtags in tweets which I'm going to try to find words to describe in next Monday's [7th Feb] post about what I'm calling 'the artistry' of Twitter!

Until then let's look at 'Trending' which is where the use of hashtags becomes evident.

Trending
On your Homepage you'll see a list of things the most popular topics being tweeted about right here, right now:

Notice how many of them feature the # showing how people are talking about the same topic, using the same hashtag and joining in a inter/national conversation to the extent that it becomes one of the most popular topics on twitter at that moment in time.

While many of these popular hashtag conversations are nonsense, just for fun memes ... I'm relieved to say that the Trends list can also show evidence of more serious concerns and is, believe it or not, a good place to pick up on breaking news.

Many times now I've spotted a name or phrase trending and wondered 'Why are people talking about that right now? What's happened?'. Once I click on it you get taken to a page containing all the tweets mentioning that phrase and can discover what's happening ... then I often hop over to the BBC News page for the full story.

Again, as I've been pointing out during these lessons, it's yet another way in which Twitter brings the information directly to YOU!

Favourites
OK so the term 'favourites' isn't that hard for a non-Twitter-speaker to have grasped ... so I mention it only to bring it to your attention:

The majority of the tweets I've added to my favourites are ones which have made me laugh - which is why I want to keep them in easy reach. [And after a quick skim through them now just to check ... I've also realised that many of them are ones I've written myself ... so ... I admit it, I make myself laugh ... there's no shame in that! I hope.]

But besides the narcissitic possibilities of laughing at your own jokes ... you can use the Favourites function as:
  • a noticeboard to pin tweets containing useful / interesting links to - so you can refer back to them later when you've got more time;
  • A diary, to store imprtant tweets with special dates or upcoming events in;
  • A place for tweets which you plan to use as prompts for future pieces of writing or to lift directly to add on a scrapbook or art journal page etc [On Thursday I'll share a few scrapbooking pages I've made which were based around Tweets];

OK, today's homework is pretty self-evident:
  1. Retweet something you feel is worth sharing;
  2. If you tweet about this class, include the #twittercurious hashtag in there;
  3. Cast your eye over what's Trending where you are; and ...
  4. If there's anything appropriate, Favourite something - it's just as easy to 'un-favourite' it later so don't worry about making any permanent grand statements with what you choose!

Right then, that's all for today.

Tomorrow will be my first 'Month in Numbers' post of the new year marking a whole year of recording my months in statistics and photos. [If you're new here and want to see what I'm talking about have a peek here.] As usual ... the invitation is there if you wish to join in ... I know at least one of the Twitter-curious is intending to do just that!

I'll see you then then.

Julie

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Vintage book: Girls Crystal Annual 1960

Hello you.

Seeing as how you've been working so hard in my Twitter class all week I thought I'd let you relax today by flicking through one of my carboot sale discoveries; a Girls Crystal Annual from 1960 which cost me all of 25p!

Feel free to curl up on the sofa with some chocolate while you browse:

The front papers feature some lovely nostalgic illustrations:

And there's some great melodramatic stories going on inside:

Check out "that prying minx"!

Then there's 'happy-go-lucky' Bill and his badge of magic powers!

And what girl's annual would be complete without something set in a boarding school?

Whatever you're doing today I hope it's a good one.

I'm having a day off. I'm not planning to work on any commissions, projects, future-class planning ... or even current e-lessons! I'm just waiting for some gesso to dry and then I'll be off art-journaling ... I've even cleared my desk in preparation ... so I must be determined no?

See you very soon.

Jx

Friday, 28 January 2011

Tips for the Twitter-curious. 3: Building Your Twitter Network.

Hi again!

I hope you're just about ready to follow some people with me in a minute ... but for now, just stand still while I fawn over you for a moment.

Thank you all so much for playing along and for letting me know about it! I'm so happy at the response the first two lessons have received.


If you remain unconvinced ... do read on ... as, once I'm done sharing all I've learned about Following ... I'm going on to debunk the idea that writing tweets is the central reason to set up a Twitter account! Because it doesn't need to be! And I have two non-Tweeting yet signed-up-to-Twitter parents to use as evidence!

But back to the fawning over the active-curious amongst you ... I'm hopefully up-to-date in adding all those who've asked to be added to the Twitter-curious list both here in the sidebar >>> and on Twitter itself. If you can't see yourself there already, just remind me when you get chance, your participation is making all my many twittering hours all worth it! But here endeth the fawning.

Now lace up your boots and let's go follow someone ...

So you're all signed up to Twitter-ville, you've given yourself a new name and a new profile; you've taken the guided tour [in Lesson 2] and have begun to tentatively find your way around ... by now I'd say it's probably about time you met the neighbours!


Who are you going to follow?
Don't tell me you don't know anyone on Twitter. It's not true.

There've been approximately 200 million Twitter accounts opened ... and I simply don't believe you're that much of a loner!

Maybe you're just confused about how to populate your Twittersphere ... so let's see if this helps:


  • It ISN'T like Facebook.
  • You DO NOT have to know someone already before you can follow them on Twitter.
  • Someone DOES NOT have to 'accept' you before you can follow them!
  • No matter how big and famous the person is [unless their Tweets are protected] anyone can follow anyone! Or, as my Grandma would have put it ... ‘a cat can look at the Queen’!

So how do you Follow people? Well ...

That's all there is to it!

  • As soon as you begin Following someone, their tweets will begin appearing in the Timeline on your Home page. [See tour-guide in Lesson 2 if these terms are unfamiliar to you].

Before I joined Twitter, whenever I'd look at other people's profiles, I'd get confused with how the terms Following and Followers were applied. So, to clarify:

Suggestions on who to Follow:
Next week, across Wednesday 2nd + Friday 4th of February I'll be discussing the less obvious types of account which you really should consider Following.

But until then ... let's begin filling your virtual-neighbourhood with the reeeeaaalllly obvious:

Family and friends - follow the people you know in 'real' life:


  • Use Twitter as a free equivalent of text-messaging - to send a short message to someone you already know.
  • Fill in the blanks of what your people are getting up to in between meeting-up with them in the flesh!
  • Maintain informal, regular, wonderfully random, even reassuringly mundane contact with those who live beyond your geographical reach.
  • See what your kids who've moved away are planning for tea or find out the weather where your parents live!
  • [At some point everyone on Twitter - sooner or later - finds themself discussing food and the weather! So let's jsut accept that fact .. and move on ...].

Virtual acquaintances - follow people you are already familiar with from their other online personas:

  • If you read blogs in a reader browser - hop out of it for a while and go browse the actual blog page you subscribe to.
  • Scan the page for a 'Follow Me on Twitter' button and ... errrm ... then follow them on Twitter!
  • Same goes for any website you regularly visit and would be interested in hearing more from via Twitter.

People similar to you - follow people who move in the same circles as you:

  • 'New' Twitter has Who To Follow tab across the top of your page;
  • There's also a summary of suggestions on your Home page.
  • You can browse by interests or look through the suggestions it has already tailored for you.
  • It analyses who you follow, who's following you etc and comes up with suggestions for you. It's not always spot-on - but is at least worth a look.
  • Once you're following a few people, hop onto their Profile pages to see who follows them and who they follow - chances are that some of them will share your interests - so begin following them too!
  • Do a general search [in the box at the top-centre] for keywords related to your hobbies and interests to see who else talks about those things.

Pay attention on Fridays [that's today BTW!] - follow those who come personally recommended by others:

  • Every Friday on Twitter you'll see the term #ff popping up everywhere.
  • This means 'Follow Friday' and is a way to personally recommend someone you think your Followers should Follow too.
  • For example my #ff tweet for today could be: '#ff @kirstyneale because not only is she amazing, she's the reason I joined Twitter in the first place'. [All true!].
  • Get it? All you need is #ff in front of a @username and people know that you're highlighting someone to follow.
Now you've begun Following all these new people you're going to see your Timeline fill up with the sum total of all their tweeting pretty quickly. And this is what Twitter is good at, it's the nature of the beast:

  • It's ever-changing; constantly renewing; fast-paced; brain food for those who need constant stimulation [ie. me!];
  • It's life as it happens, it's thoughts as they occur, news as it comes in, frustrations as they boil over, TV as it's being watched en masse ... lunch as it's being eaten ...

And sometimes ... it's all too much for two eyes to keep track of. Which is why you need to use the Lists function.

Lists:

Adding people to Lists allows you to catalogue all of the accounts you Follow into whatever order makes sense to you. In fact - you don't even have to Follow someone to add them to a List!

  • Divide people into different categories and make a list for each category.
  • Click on the Lists tab > Create a List > Give the list a name.

I have several lists [see the image above] including things like: 'Arts-Crafts-Photography'; 'TV-Film-Theatre'; 'Books-Media-Comedy' into which I add the appropriate Tweeters as soon as I begin Following them [or have them drawn to my attention. I also have one for close friends and family. Then ...

  • ... whenever I don't want to scroll down and down through hundreds of tweets in my entire Timeline having to skim the page for the faces of specific set of people I want to catch up on ...
  • I simply click on the List I filed them under, which brings up a filtered Timeline showing only the tweets by those in that list!

And ...

  • if you see a List made by someone else which contains lots of accounts which you too would like to Follow ...
  • you can actually Follow that List! Rather than add all the people yourself!

I've noticed that there's a few people following my Twitter-curious list already... so I guess this isn't news to everyone!

OK then, now you're following people you share interests with, and they're all safely tucked away in Lists for easy access, it's round about here that Twitter can start to get exciting ...

Think of it as the kind of Fan Club you could only have dreamt about as a kid!

Did you join fan clubs when you were young, so you could show your support for a band you liked and so you'd be the first to hear about their latest tour dates?

I did ... and it always seemed to involve me having to persuade an adult to go and get me a postal order to pay a signing-up fee and request newsletters with tour dates on etc etc. It's all quite prehistoric compared to the access we - not just kids - now have to the people we admire and to their latest news.

Remember my Twitter philosophy from Lesson 1 about 'if it's important, they'll ring me back'? It's like that! If they have a new film / book / tour / album / TV show ... anything ... they come and tell you about it! You're the first to know [well, you and 5 million other people who Follow them... but still ...] that's one more way way in which being on Twitter saves you the time you'd spend looking into these things!

Plus, you have such ease of access to anyone on Twitter. All it takes is an @mention and - if they're not so big that they don't check their own tweets ... they'll see your message when checking their @mentions page. Now, whether they choose to respond to this or not is up to them ... but it's the nearest you're ever going to get to phoning up / bumping into your heroes - be it actors, musicians, writers, artists and so on ... and you just never know ... people have been know to get a reply!

A Twittering success:

When my other blog - The Copy + Paste Project - reached it's 1st birthday last year my co-blogger Kirsty Neale and I hosted a two day blog party filled with some amazing special guest bloggers.

ALL of the guests I invited accepted my offer and ALL of them were people I follow on Twitter. It led to a really exciting few weeks spent planning and scheduling posts by people I admired and couldn't believe had accepted to blog for us!

However ... this leads me to address a point raised in a comment from Patti / @MissouriBend. Here's some of what Patti said:

"One of the issues I have is that the advice I was given at the beginning [...] I followed all kinds of people whose tweets I didn't really care about, just hoping they'd follow me back...what for, I'm not sure...except to build a following!"

And I'm really glad Patti raised this as it gives me chance to state something I believe, which I hope has been implicit in my previous posts but which I'll just come out and say ...

  • there are no shortcuts to building interesting, fulfilling relationships even on super-speedy Twitter!

I think the advice given to Patti when she first began Tweeting missed out some huge, key elements necessary to build a useful, worthwhile network:

  • People need a reason to engage with you;
  • You can't only sell yourself to people. You have to buy-in to others too.

I'm afraid Twitter is not the quick fix to anything. No matter what marketing advice you might have read! Like anything in life I'm afraid you'll only get out of it what you put in ... [and all those other frustratingly true cliches!].

All those amazing people who accepted my offer to guest-blog?

  • I'd tweeted them all prior to asking;
  • I'd replied to general tweets they'd written; moreover ...
  • I'd replied out of genuine interest in joining in their conversation!
  • I shared things I thought they'd be interested in;
  • I was interested in what they were saying long before I ever wanted a favour!
  • Oh and ... I didn't ask them via Twittter .. I emailed them and put my case using more than 140 characters!

I'm afraid I don't have the secret to making Twitter boost anyone's sales. It doesn't seem to work for my etsy shop ... not in any obvious/profitable way!

All I can say is that spending a portion of time each week building a network of genuine connections ... rather than just boosting numbers can't possibly hurt your business / career plans. And those people in a position to help you - i.e: future customers or influential tweeters - are much more likely to help you if you're a real, interesting, funny, considerate person with something to contribbute to their experience of Twitter and the world beyond. Just try to be someone they'll be happy to see in their Timeline every now and again ...

OK, while I carefully climb down from my soapbox ... I'll move on to that bit of mythbusting I've been promising ...

Busting the big myth of Twitter

Are you ready? OK ... put your fingers in your ears as I'm going to shout ...

  • YOU DO NOT HAVE TO WRITE TWEETS TO USE TWITTER!!!
  • NOT EVER!

Instead you can:

  • set up an account;
  • take all of the information from today's lesson;
  • choose people to Follow;
  • arrange them in Lists;
  • keep up-to-date by reading all the latest information from your favourite comedians, shops, sports teams, politicians... daughters ... and so on;

And then...

  • turn off Twitter and go about your day! The End.

I'm pretty sure this is already how many people use it.

It's what my parents do.

Dad may not want to tell the Twitterverse anything about himself ... but he does like reading-up on the latest signings to the football team he supports, and following links from Stephen Fry's tweets ... or reading his daughter's political views when she's been tweeting after a glass of wine ... ;-)

So ... if the thought of having to write tweets has put you off so far ... how are my wannabe-lawyer arguments doing now?

Have I whittled away your last reserve yet?

If not ... I've got 6 more lessons to go so hold your fire for now and give me your verdict two weeks from today! OK?

I've packed an awful lot into this lesson. So there's a lot for you to go be brave about getting on with over the weekend:

  • If you haven't signed up to Twitter - sign up to Twitter [I'm attempting the direct approach!]

Then:

  1. Start following some people!
  2. Use the #ff method to recommend someone you think people should folllow too - but only on Friday!
  3. Look at the List function.
  4. Make a List.
  5. Add people to your list. [Click on their Profile > Click on the List icon > check the tick box nest to the appropriate list].
  6. Write an @mention tweet in genuine response to someone else's tweet.
  7. Join in a conversation and ... don't give up!!!!!!!

Twitter-relationships are most definitely eased along by its fast nature and the instant access you have to people ... but they still take time.

Ultimately you've got just as much chance of having a ball over there as I did two years ago, when I'd just begun and only knew @kirstyneale!

I'll be around if you want to say 'hi', or to confirm to you that you are indeed tweeting properly!

Class will reconvene on Monday morning with a lesson on a very modern language: Twitterspeak!

Have fun!

Julie

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Overheard: Well, it's the next best thing.

Hi, hi, hi.

It feels like forever since I shared an overheard from campus with you so, while taking a break from my current Twitter-preoccupation I've trawled back through my notebooks and found this snippet from February 2008 ...

It's another one of my not-really-an-overheard overheards as this was actually something a lecturer said during a lecture I was taking notes in.

He'd been lecturing the students in the necessity of practising 'real' observational drawing as a means to improve their virtual modelling skills and during this, launched into a reminiscence about how, as a student himself, he'd travelled to Italy to take-in and sketch-out its culture and inspiration.

His following words of wisdom seemed to suggest that he'd suddenly wondered if he was coming across as stuffy and was eager to reinstate himself as still pretty cool ...

Lecturer: When I was in Florence I went to see Michelangelo’s David ... but it was too expensive to get in and I couldn’t afford it.

... so I bought a bottle of wine and sat looking at the Ponte Vecchio instead.

To his relief - I'm sure - his students laughed at the mere thought of a drunk lecturer ... and me .. well, as usual I found myself casually flicking to a clean sheet of paper to scribble his small revelation down before I forgot!

Photo: Not exactly the Ponte Vecchio ... but the bridge in beautiful Corbridge, Northumberland. Taken September 2010.

See you tomorrow.

Julie

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Tips for the Twitter-curious. 2: A Guided Tour of Twitter.

Hello.

Welcome to Day 2 of 'Tips for the Twitter-curious' . If the powers of persuasion I deployed in my 'Making a Case for Twitter' post have worked ... then by now you should have:
  • Chosen your username and hopped off to sign-up and added a profile photo and background image;

OR ...

  • Logged back in to a neglected account;

OR at the very least:

  • begun to consider that there's more to this Twittering lark than you first assumed and are quietly awaiting further coersion ... which is precisely what I'm here for!

In Lesson 3 [on Friday 28th] I'll be de-bunking perhaps the biggest misconception people might have about using Twitter by explaining how you can happily use Twitter without ever having to tweet anything yourself! But that's for Friday ...

... until then I'm 100% focussed on those of you who really do want to start tweeting but who are a little unsure of where to start:

In today's lesson I'm going to assume:

  • that you know nothing at all about the Twitter site;
  • that it's layout is a confusing foreign land;
  • and that its labels, links and buttons mean absolutely nothing to you.

If this isn't you - and you're a fully-fledged tweeter already - then instead, send a link to this post to someone in your life who you would like to take up tweeting ... and allow me to guide them around on your behalf!

Allow me to escort you around:

If you haven't already signed up to Twitter, then just treat this guide as a glimpse into all the main functions of the site - without having to try it out for yourself.

But if you have signed-up then open up another window in your browser now, so you can flick between my guide and your Twitter pages, to test out the tips in real-time as I walk you through it.

Right then, let's begin from home ...

Home:

  • Once you've logged-in to Twitter you will spend the majority of your time reading and working from out of your Home page:
There is nothing on there which is private, however only you see that specific page. Every Twitter user's Home page displays only the things specific to their own account.


  • Amongst other things, the Home tab houses the lists of people who follow you along with the people you follow. And the Timeline ...
Timeline:

  • The Timeline is the list of tweets written by people you have chosen to follow.
  • It's in chronological order with the most recent posts at the top.

Home and Timeline are the 2 main places where you'll deal with other people on Twitter.

Now let's move on to you for a moment.

Profile:

Clicking on to the Profile tab takes you to a page displaying a list of all the tweets that you have ever written:

  • This is also the page that anyone who clicks on a link to your Twitter profile sees.
  • If you have a web-address you'd like to direct people to, make sure it's in your profile.
  • This is also where your short bio is displayed. Unusually for me, my Twitter bio is one of the few things online which I've never rewritten or fiddled with!
  • NB:[If you only want specific people to see your tweets you can secure your account so only people who you allow can view them].

Speaking of tweets ... are you ready to try writing one yet?

Tweeting:

  • To Tweet you need to click back into the Home tab view.

  • You only have 140 typed characters to write your message - that includes all punctuation and blank spaces ... so type wisely;
  • The grey number in the bottom right counts down to show you how many you have left to play with.

As you get used to the format you'll begin to find ways to shorten what it is you want to say so that it all fits in.

As someone who loves words and language I relish the constraint and love seeing how I can condense an entire train of thought into a single succinct 140-character packet.

But if, unlike me, that's not really the kind of thing you do for kicks ...
  • ... don't worry if you can't fit everything into that limit at first, just write two tweets in a row!

Chances are, once you begin tweeting and following people [which I'll go into in more detail on Friday 28th] pretty soon, you'll want to aim a tweet directly towards someone in particular and they'll start tweeting directly to you too.

Here's where the @ symbol is vital.

@Mentions:


  • Whenever you want to talk directly to someone specific - or mention them in any way in a tweet you simply type in @ plus their username into your tweet.
  • You can @mention any number of people in one Tweet.
  • If they are someone who follows you, they might just happen to notice your message in their regular Timeline at the time you tweeted it.
  • And it works vice versa too - someone may mention your name in a tweet, and you just might be in the right spot at the right time to notice it, or you spot it when you scroll down through the older tweets in your Timeline.

However this is not the efficient method of doing things!

To begin with, if the person you @mentioned doesn't follow you they will not see your tweets in their timeline. And you won't see your name @mentioned by anyone you don't follow ... unless you:

  • Instead - you click on the @Mentions tab to see ALL the occasions where your name has been mentioned, right across Twitter, not just amongst people you follow.
  • This is how you can get the attention of anyone on Twitter.
  • As long as you use the @username method, they will see your message under their personal @Mentions tab.

But what if you want to write something a little more private?

Messages:

In 'old Twitter' - the version before the current interface, these were known as 'Direct Messages' which probably explains them a little more obviously.

  • Click the Messages tab to where you can write a message which will only be sent to the single person you select.

  • This message will not appear in their Timeline, rather it will go to their Messages folder, avsilable from clicking the Messages tab.
  • You can only send a direct messages to a mutual contact ie. a person who you Follow AND who is Following you in return;
  • It's more private than a general tweet - and is sometimes easier to do than turning to your email etc once you're already logged on and using Twitter.
  • That said, I only use them occasionally.

I think our tour of the most interesting Twitter landmarks is heading toward the end. There's just time for a few more mundane, but important, places first:

Settings:

  • Clicking the Settings tab takes you to your behind-the-scenes account pages.

  • From here you can do things such as change your password, alter your profile photo and connect your mobile phone to your account. Then you too can tweet from the bus / train / waiting room like so many others do!

You can actually tailor all the settings so you can choose to receive text messages when you're tweeted at or when someone directly messages you etc. Just see what works best for you.

If you're still a Twitter-virgin your homework today is:

  • To consider just trying it out.

After all it is free and you've got the shiny, full-colour guide above to help you now!

  • If you're still unsure if it's really something you want to take-on then you could even set up an account and not mention a word of it to anyone if it feels like too much pressure!

If you've already signed-up or are a still a relatively new user:

  • Go back over everything you've just read;
  • Take the tour again on your own and click on all those areas I've covered;

Then ...

  • Write a general tweet, about anything at all;
  • Write a tweet which mentions someone else using the @username method.

And that's all for today's class, thanks for attending!

I'm going to let you rest-up now ... you're going to need your energies for when we start following people on Friday!

Julie :-)

p.s: Remember to contact me via the comments section below or via Twitter itself, if you want to be added to the Twitter-curious list.

I'm not automatically adding all my new followers to the list in case they've followed me for a different reason ... [What? there might be other reasons ...].

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Cards: Hearts, arrows + shiny things!


Hi there you. And you.

A special 'hello' if you've popped over from the 3DJean Design Team blog where I've also also posted today.


I'm taking a break from writing about Twitter today, to share a couple of cards with you.

I often make cards from the bits and pieces I have crammed, rammed and squished into carefully sorted into zip-lock bags full of scraps, as it gives me the illusion that I'm being frugal, eco-friendly and resourceful!

And while, in some tinyway, I am being all those things ... the main reason I like restricting myself to only using what's in my scrap bags is how it throws out unusual combinations of 'bits' which I may not have taken time to pull together otherwise.

Here I've combined some old Basic Grey paper [I still adore that blue!] with some laser-cut hearts and a couple of things from 3DJean: the ArtChix collage image and the label, in the centre, which was printed from a 3DJean Image CD:

The Catslife Press 'Just Between You and Me' stamp also came from 3DJean a while ago now, but the Queen & Co. glittery gem embellishment is brand new, in stock now ... and ... is my latest favourite stash-crush!:

The arrow is from a punch which I found in the Hobbycraft sale. I like the idea of punches - but not the price [or the space they take up!] so when I found this one going cheap, I bought it. It's slightly less 'girly' than many punches I see ... and I'm not entirely a hearts and flowers girl through and through ... although I am warming to hearts ...[shhhhhh, don't tell anyone, OK?].

The red + white ribbon was a Christmas gift from Andrea of the very smashing shop for all things ribbony The Ribbon Girl and that silver ribbon which is catching the light so spectacularly is an Anita's Sticky Ribbon:

Right then, that's enough from me for today. We both need to go and rest before the guided tour of Twitter I've got planned for tomorrow.

Now go polish your comfy shoes and meet me back here in the morning. OK?

OK. ;-)

Julie x

Monday, 24 January 2011

Tips for the Twitter-curious. 1: To Tweet or Not to Tweet?

Hi there you.

Welcome to the first day of class, I expect you to have sharpened your pencils and your wits in preparation!

If you're someone utterly non-plussed by the whole tweeting thing or are simply a complete sceptic then please read on ... today's especially for you!

My plan is to discuss a different aspect of Twitter here each Monday, Wednesday and Friday for the next 3 weeks, allowing plenty of time in between 'lessons' for you to explore Twitter and to test out the tips for yourself.

Lesson 2, on Wednesday, is a full photo tutorial / orientation guide to using the Twitter site itself; eg. which buttons to press when and what to click where etc. But before I delve into the ultra-practical 'how' side of things, I want to use this first session to address the more general point of 'why' you might consider using Twitter.

So, let's put Twitter on trial for the next few minutes and you can consider this my case for the defence [just excuse me while I get over-excited at acting out a life-long fantasy of being a lawyer...]:

I know there's always a new trend vying for your online attention and I know each additional site you take-on involves an investment of your time and efforts. And I won't pretend that when you're fresh to Twitter it won't feel like yet another 'time-suck', an unworthy drain on your precious free-time ... but eventually, once you've got into the habit ... it can certainly begin to repay your efforts.

The Evolution of Online Information
Do you remember when you first began viewing websites and blogs regularly? It's probably a while ago now but cast your mind back to how you used to keep track of the sites you liked to visit.

  • At one time I used to keep a note book next to the computer where I'd jot down web addresses I wanted to refer back to.
  • That was until I got the hang of using the 'Favourites' button.

But while that certainly was quicker than using pen and paper I still had to spend time clicking through each 'favourite' on the list, checking for updates and then trying to remember which ones I'd looked at already.

  • And now we have blog readers to do all that for us [not people who read our blogs for us, [!] but rather sites which search the blogs you're interested in so you only need visit that one place to read through all new content].

And while these readers are hugely useful [I still refer to my Google Reader every day] and have simplified blog browsing no end, they still work on the basis of you having to go and check to see there's anything new to read.

  • But now there's Twitter ...

Think of it as the online equivalent of "If it's Important Enough They'll Ring Me Back"

Have you ever said 'If it's important they'll ring me back' right after missing a call on your phone? It's usually what you say just before deciding not to spend your time money checking to see whose number it was and then phoning them back to see what they wanted.

Well, that's now become my Twitter philosophy ...

  • what do YOU [the people I follow]want ME to know?
  • Via Twitter, if somebody has information or a blog post, photograph, project etc etc which they consider important enough, interesting enough for me to come and look at ... then they will take the time to bring it to my attention by tweeting a link to it.

In effect, they ring me back.

And I know this is how things work ... because I spend an equal amount of time posting my own links on there ... vying for the attention of people I'm following; in the equivalent of me ringing them back. It's not all one-way.

So it's a highly effective method of having the information and inspiration you are interested in, finding it's own way to you. Seeking you out!

A simple visit to your Twitter 'TimeLine' can easily become a one-stop-shop for all those updates which could otherwise take you time to catch up on. After all you choose who to follow on there ... therefore those people who are posting links to get your attention are only those people who you deemed interesting enough to follow in the first place.

Still thinking you don't have time to tweet?

Maybe you truly don't have time. Who am I to say otherwise? But maybe, just maybe, you do ...

Do you have time to leave the odd blog comment? Or to Facebook? Or post on forums? Or write emails to friends? Because since using Twitter regularly I've been able to borrow back time I once spent in these activities and now use the time building up a Twitter network.

And so have many millions of others.

Which means that it's quite likely that many of those people you are spending time contacting via five different sites can actually all be found on Twitter where you can talk to them all at one time, all in one place!

And no, it can't, and doesn't, replace the occasional long, personal email or phone call or real-life meeting. But you can consider it more like popping your head around an office door to say 'hi', or a quick chat to a neighbour on the drive.

Your tweets don't get overwritten or deleted [unless you delete them yourself] so everything you tweet is there for your friends to catch up on in their own time, as and when they drop by Twitter. Even if yesterday they missed you tweeting about how fed-up you were ... they can still read about it and attempt to cheer you up tomorrow or even a week later. And vice versa.

Twitter allows you to keep in touch at your own pace. When you have the time. And whenever that is ... you can keep you up-to-date with each other's news, keep in the loop, keep yourself surrounded by life and chatter and company and nonsense and all the passing details of life which someone chose to sit still for a moment, take a breath and type out in 140 chacters or less... to share with you and anyone else who follows them.

And that's essentially why I love it.

Measuring success.

In the days to come I'll share with you some of the more obvious Twitter-related successes I've had but really, in my two years there, my biggest successes have been exploiting the simplicity, accessibility and speed of tweeting to maintain relationships with two very good friends who I knew before I ever tweeted but who are busy people ... and aren't we all? While we still keep in touch using other methods of communication as well, having somewhere to quickly say 'hi' or catch up on what they've been doing and 'hearing' their voice through their tweets, has been such a welcome way to remove that guilty 'oh-my-goodness-I-keep-forgetting-to-reply-to-that-email' feeling.

'Social networking' is such a cold term for what I've found on Twitter. It simply doesn't convey the level of true communication and friendship I've discovered and nurtured over there.

If there's someone whose face, hands, friendship, listening ear, words of wisdom, sense of humour you miss ... someone you wish you could smile at more frequently, share your day with, cheer-up or laugh at rubbish TV alongside ... then, trust me

... sign up to Twitter, get them to do the same and pick-up where you left off.

It is that easy. I do it every day .. and I have the relationships to prove it!

Your Verdict?

So, I've made my case ... or rather, I've begun making my case for Twitter ... there's a few more days in court left until we're done here! But for now ...

... how am I doing? Are you in? Do you trust me to lead you around Twitter-ville for the first time? Have I convinced you to at least think about giving it a try sometime? Have I convinced you enough to give it a try right now?

How to join in.

If I have indeed put the case persuasively enough today then here's your next step.

Obviously, as it's a free class, open to all [even the Twitter-objectors!] there's no official 'sign-up' routine. However, if you think you might use this as your moment to sign-up to Twitter itself - so you can test out my advice as we go along - then do declare your intentions!

As I stated last time, you're more than welcome to:

  • Simply read the posts and digest them in peace at your own pace.
  • Lurk, loiter and hover in the background and not commit to anything!
  • Blog about my mini-series if you think your readers might benefit from it too. [Anyone who blogs about the class and lets me know about it will be put into a giveaway draw].
  • Mention it to friends, neighbours and strangers or, better still ...
  • Hire a sky-writing plane and tell the world!

But if you fancy something a little less strenuous ...



  • 1. Take the time between now and the next class [Wednesday 26th] to think about your Twitter username before signing up.

Ideally mine would be my name - but at the time I signed up I was still happy using the same profile name across several forums which was 'Nabview'. You can change your username and still maintain the exact same account - but it's better, for confusion's sake that you choose wisely to begin with! When I finally decided to change it to my 'real' name, it was already taken and so I re-named myself after my blog - which is how I'm @notesonpaper.

Then ...

  • 2. Sign up to twitter.com. The online details are pretty straightforward to follow.

Then ...

  • 3. add yourself some form of profile image that represents you.

Personally, I like to use a photograph of me but if that's not your way of doing things then add something else. But try not to leave it on the default image for too long ... people tend to have a suspicion of accounts which don't look like they've been set up by 'real' people. There's as much SPAM going on over there as there is from any online entity so people like to think they're talking to a 'proper' account, held by a 'real' person!

And finally ...

  • 4. Think about adding a background image to your profile for the same anti-SPAM-looking reason above.

I'm no great expert onthe finer points of this aspect, so for now just pick a photo on your hard-drive that you like . Go to 'Settings' > 'Design' > 'Change Background Image' > Browse for that image > and then select the 'tile image' option.

Then if improving on the end result is something you're interestred in, set yourself a target to go and Google-around for ways to make a better Twitter background. I'm happy with the basic photo .. for now.

Finally ...

  • 5. Leave me a comment on this post or on any of the 'Tips for the Twitter Curious' posts at any point in the coming weeks which mentions your Twitter username [the one that begins with @].

I'll then add it to a list in my blog sidebar for the duration of the series and also to this specific 'Twitter Curious' Twitter list which I've created and will leave in place indefinitely [more on Twitter Lists in a later lesson!].

This way, you can all see who else has been joining in and then go visit or even 'Follow' them on Twitter - helping you to easily to build your network from Day1.

[NB: Sometimes the 'List' function simply refuses to work for me on my computer, so if you don't see your name there immediately, be rest assured I'll be attempting to add it ASAP].

Similarly, even if you're not brand new to Twitter, but have an existing username you'd like adding to my list, the same offer applies to you. Simply let me know you're following the class and I'll add you to the list.

I'm going to be around on Twitter all week if you want to come and say 'hi' directly from there too. I'll cover this in more detail on Wednesday, but until then, anything at all you tweet which has the term '@notesonpaper' in it somewhere, should get my attention.]

Closing arguments.

OK then, that's enough from me for one lesson ... I've tried to pack a lot in, but that's mainly because I'm so enthusiastic about the whole helping-people-to-tweet thing!

If it's been a touch too much for you, then simply bookmark this page or make a note-to-self to come back and skim through it all again some other time.

I can't wait to hear from you! Be it from here, there or anywhere! Leave me a comment, tweet me, yell really loudly!

Whatever, just give me your verdict, and I'll see you back in class on Wednesday 26th!

Julie

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Tips for the Twitter-curious: Come tweet with me?

Hi you.

Apologies if you use a blog-reader and spotted a rather vague draft post which I accidentally published the other day!

I'm afraid that's what happens when I'm squashed up into a corner, using a unfamiliar computer at work ... with a student behind me whose swivel chair keeps banging mine, forcing me to shuffle nearer and nearer the desk ... which leads to me accidentally hitting a key which prematurely publishes my messy brain-emptying process.

I blame students. I suggest you do too - then we can all move on. OK? OK.

But whether or not you saw that draft , let me fill you in on what it is I've been up to. In short, it involves Twitter.

Do you Tweet?

I do.


My username over there is @notesonpaper. But you might already know that. You might already follow me there and vice versa. If not, there's a link to my Twitter profile and a widget with my latest tweets floating over in my sidebars somewhere.

Since I joined up, almost 2 years ago now, I've really fallen for the whole Twitter way of doing things. It's now part of my [almost] daily routine and has brought me more opportunities, friends and enjoyment than you might think possible if you're not already a smitten Twitterer.

I've had lots of comments, here on my blog, in emails and in person, from people who like the idea of it, or feel they 'should' be trying it, but who don't know where to begin. And several times I've mooted the idea of sharing my love of all things tweety by writing up a class full of tips, hints and insights for novice-Tweeters ...

... and now I have!


'Tips for the Twitter-curious' is a free class, starting this coming Monday[January 24th] right here on my blog and running for several weeks.

It will take the form of a mini-series of blog posts - a list of which I will file under the 'Tips for the Twitter-curious' tab beneath my header - for ease of reference.

Plus, for anyone who chooses to take the plunge and set themselves up with a twitter.com account while the class is running, there'll be 'homework' and prompts for interaction over there too.

Here's what you can expect:
  • A series of informative posts in which I'll share not only my enthusiasm for Twitter but my experiences of how to get the most from the time you spend there;
  • Prompts to get you thinking how you might incorporate Twitter into your existing online time;
  • An overview of the language and etiquette used on the site;
  • A deeper look into Twitter's practical uses; artistic value and eccentric extras; plus ...
  • Tips on how to make Twitter work for you - even in a busy life;

It will be useful to you if:

  • you like the idea of Twitter, have thought of signing up, but don't want to be wandering around there on your own;
  • you want to hit the ground running with some tips to get the most out of the time you spend on there;
  • you want a ready-made network by joining in with other people following my class;
  • you want to expand your social networks to promote yourself or your business;
  • you have already opened a Twitter account but have rarely used it;
  • you don't think Twitter is for you at all - you can't imagine yourself ever Tweeting and can't think of anyone you want to talk to on there.

Can you spot yourself in that list somewhere? If you're one of the last category, I'm going to make a particular effort to convince you to think again!

In Monday's post I'll tell you how we can all keep track of who is joining in - so we can all make some new connections and find fresh inspiration from Twitter.

But it would be great to hear from you before then.

Whether you plan to join-in by:

  • signing-up for a Twitter account;
  • logging back in to a neglected account; or
  • simply reading along to see what it's all about ... .

... you're all equally welcome and I look forward to hearing a variety of your Twitter-based thoughts and comments before we begin.

OK then my 'Twitter-curious' friends, if I don't see you before ... I'll see you on Monday 24th!

Thanks for reading me today.

Julie :-)

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Some leaflets are more useful than others.

Hi, hi, hi.

Firstly, let me thank those of you who left such thoughtful comments on my previous post. They left me with a combination of smiling face and goosebumpy skin.

There've been no comments left on my final post on the Banana Frog blog. So the 8 genuine reactions I received about it here, only served to re-assure me that I was indeed doing the right thing by focussing on my own goals on my own blog. Which is a relief!

Anyways ... I didn't log on here to just get all gushy on you ... well, I did a bit .. but now I've done that, I'll share with you something about finding inspiration in flyers and leaflets.

Obviously...

I can't remember if I've shared these pages with you already and I'm not sure why - last thing on a Sunday - I'm blogging about work rather than pretending it doesn't exist! But here I am and here's those pages regardless:

My Work Book: Contents

I made this book a few years ago now for a feature I pitched to Scrapbook Inspirations Magazine about scrapping your workplace.

My Work Book: Animation

In it, a lot of the journalling is spelled out using words cut from leaflets, flyers, brochures and postcards I picked up around campus.

My Work Book: Lectures

I found appropriate words and filled in the gaps with rub-on alphas, letter stickers and handwriting:

My Work Book: Jeans

Then just this week, I spotted a leaflet with some wording on it that looked like a good starting point for a page so I picked it up and popped it in my bag for a future art-journalling session.

However ... not everything I find is as appropriate or useable ...

On my way across campus on Friday, when passing by the Sudent Union I thought I'd be generous and accept a flyer from a girl stood stoically handing them out on a blustery morning.

But - you tell me - just what kind of pages would I need to be creating to make full use of this:

Let alone the kind of journaling I'd need to be writing for this to come in handy:

Although ... having said that ... I might just throw down the gauntlet and challenge myself to use it somehow! I'll be sure to show you if I succeed!

If it's a school-night for you too ... enjoy the rest of your freedom [I'm filling mine with white wine, dark chocolate and Aurelio Zen!].

I'll be sure to keep you up-to-date with any inspiration that gets thrust into my hands on campus tomorrow ...


J ;-)

Friday, 14 January 2011

Anyone else need cake?

Hi there you.

As someone wise once said: 'There is always room for cake':

And so say all of us, no?

Well, that's the message behind my latest - and last - post as a DT member on the Banana Frog blog today [click the photo,or here, to go to the post].

After 2 fantastic years I've decided to move on. I simply need to borrow back the time for myself and my other creative work.

It's all part of one of the goals I mentioned in my weekly Art Journal last week:


It's the one that's taken up much of my brain this last few weeks. It's number 3 on that list.
  • Learn the difference between 'can' and 'should'.
Intellectually I know the difference. Hell, I've got a first class English degree, if I didn't know the literal difference it would be a poor show wouldn't it? But I really need to start putting it into practice.

Even though I'd like to do everything and am able to turn my hand to quite a few things. Time won't allow me to. So I need to prioritise.

It's all led me to thinking [so what's new?] about what it is I really want to chase after ... so I can then lace up my boots and start running in the right direction.

Knowing me, I'll probably trip and fall along the way. Or someone else will trip and fall and land on me and I'll get scraped knees along the way ... but that's nothing new ... and it's what sticking plasters were made for.

Oh and cake always helps too ...

Julie x