From the Blog

Twitter: How You Do It: In 27 Easy Steps!

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This post is dedicated to a certain sibling of mine, and other people I’ve met who say they don’t “get” Twitter. It’s understandable. Someone hasn’t given them The Enchanted Magical Key To Understanding Twitter. Yes, Twitter can be a fetid swamp of banality. “I had a banana for lunch! LOL! Plz RT.” However, I also hear breaking news on Twitter before any major outlet, I hear about events going on around town, and yes, I hear about bananas. Sometimes, the world just needs to know about your bananas. It’s important.

The first mistake people sometimes make is thinking that their friends will also be on Twitter, and you’ll be able to conversate with them. But that’s what Facebook, MySpace and Friendster are for. Twitter isn’t just for chatting with people you know. It’s for meeting people you DON’T know. Facebook is like a reunion, where you can hang out with Aunt Mathilda. Twitter is more like a cocktail party, where you rub elbows with people you haven’t met yet. And sometimes, you make real friends. Stalkers, too!

Once you sign up for Twitter, it’s hard to know how it works, or where to start. You can follow anyone on Twitter. They may or may not follow you back. So as a start, you can go out and see if there are interesting famous people on twitter. I recommend Roger Ebert @ebertchicago, The Daily Show @TheDailyShow, Frank Conniff from MST3K @FrankConniff (he’s a pretty funny bastard), Stephen Colbert @StephenAtHome. You get the idea. I follow Al Franken @alfranken because I wuv him.

I made a point to find rockstars that I like, both from when I was younger like @CurtSmith from Tears for Fears, and now @guster, @BenFolds, @colinmeloy of The Decemberists and others. It makes me a little giddy to hear my favorite rockstars talk about doing yard work. I wish I was kidding.

From there, I follow news outlets. Here’s my list of news sites, in which I lump lefty whiny liberal outlets also. I specifically recommend The Boston Globe’s @big_picture for always jaw dropping photos. I follow @nprnews, @oregonian, (a pioneer on Twitter!) @BostonUpdate, and others. Almost any major newspaper is going to have a Twitter feed, and you can follow according to your geography and interests. A few news organizations post articles a bit too frequently, and I unfollow some publications. But it’s okay to do that. Their feelings won’t be hurt.

Then I find people who are doing things I find interesting. I follow famous bloggers, like @dooce, @thepioneerwoman, and giant tech scene overlords like Guy Kawasaki @Alltop and Seth Godin @ThisIsSethsBlog. I read a book I like, I find the author on Twitter.

Is this Twitter thing making sense? I find people who are minimalist or frugal gurus: @ManVsDebt, @zen_habits, @frugalbabe, @evbogue, @thenonconsumer, @chrisguillebeau, @RowdyKittens, @GRSblog and others.

I follow environmental causes, Oregon history and news, progressive politics, local museums, restaurants, businesses, travel resources and other stuff. And as I have amassed an ever growing list of people to follow, I discover other bloggers, local creatives, sports fans and wankers. We strike up conversations, share stories and links, and sometimes meet up in REAL LIFE. Strangers from the internet!

There are social circles of local folks on Twitter that blend and overlap. We got your foodie and food cart scene, your soccer and Timbers scene, your internet radio moguls, your design crowd (with font nuts, a small internal schism), your crafters, your gardeners, your beer drinkers, your photographers, your indie filmers, your start up scene, your weekly indie paper scene, your scenester scene, and of course, your geeks. I think every last one of us would proudly say we were geeks. And we all sort of “know” each other. I’ve met folks in real life and we exchanged Twitter handles instead of our actual names. And it didn’t even seem ironic.

Some people use Twitter for marketing or self promotion and that’s cool. There’s enough space for that. And others use Twitter to share somewhat private conversations, like when I asked @societemonstres if I accidentally killed her with my apple cake (it had nuts in it). And also, amidst all this, amazingly, I actually find real flesh and blood friends and family on Twitter. And we keep each other fully appraised of what we had for lunch.

I recommend the Twitter. You can follow me @mile73. You’ll be the first to know when my cat is being a bastard.


  1. I was convinced to join Twitter on a web-geek meetup so I immediately had people from my town with similar interests to follow, who also followed me back. Then I followed a bunch of people my best friend was having regular conversations with on Twitter (her obviously too) and from there I met and followed many people and was followed by many people.

    Over time your followings will fluctuate. I have probably followed around a 1000 people, but never more than 200 at a time. More than this and I start wondering at the people appearing in my stream. “who the hell is that? can’t remember following her.” But for me 40 to 50 people is what I can follow well and catch all the conversations, without Twitter being a total time sink. By the way, it’s ok not to read every tweet those you follow write ;)

  2. i just had a piece of bread & construction workers are making a lot of noise in my house.

    …wait this isn’t twitter!

    awesome. i think bananas can be important, too. and i like the fact that i now have a bookmark in my bookmarks bar that says twit. i just really like the word twit.

    by the way, i looked at that big picture image you were telling us about on sat. very, very cool. has a richard diebenkorn like quality!

    see? see? the twitter is good.


  3. ps thanks for the mention!!!!!!

  4. I will try it again, I have an account but will sign up again under a new business name account when I figure that one out.

    “Eating granola and coffee now. Hoping I have enough time to brush, floss and gargle before my dentist appointment in an hour. No dentists like granola in their patients teeth, AND coffee breath.”

  5. Ah! This is another funny one to follow! @alliebrosh. And and her website is a fricken hoot, too.

  6. Wow! What a coincidence! Before I had a chance to check out @alliebrosh per your recommendation, Chris sent me the link to her most recent comic, The God of Cake. I was literally pounding my fists on my desk as I was reading it. That’s how hard I was laughing. She’s really really really funny and talented!

  7. Aaaaaaand, I think Twitter just helped us to decide on buying an RV instead of a condo. We’re going to go live in a camper.

  8. For reals?

  9. michael lewallen says

    Den Mother, a Richard Diebenkorn reference! most excellent, this foretells many happy kids for the newly married couple. There goes the Saab in comes the Subaru wagon, welcome to Oregon.

  10. i fear twitter.

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