I Stopped Following You On Twitter. Nothing personal.

I stopped following you on Twitter today. Nothing personal. You’re still funny. People still like you. Your 2037 remaining followers still admire the amount of snark and wit you can pack into 140 characters.

Its not you. Its me.

I just woke up and realized that my Twitter feed was no longer meeting my needs. I realized that Twitter is like a dinner party in a warehouse and everyone is standing by the buffet line, all 646 million of us, trying to be clever and pertinent but not too personal and not too emotionally involved.

I came to talk to people who know about libraries and teaching and educational technologies and writing and poetry and mobile tools in the classroom and open education resources and science stuff. Oh, and Star Wars. Yes, also Star Wars.

Your posts kept interrupting my train of thought. Your selfies and cookey cat pictures kept hiding the posts I really wanted to see. I’m sure your cat is very nice, but I don’t really care what she ate for breakfast. And I don’t understand the cheese hat.

You aren’t the only one. I stopped following dozens of others. There will be several dozen more to come, I’m sure.

I can imagine you and the sadness you might feel. Sitting there alone in your apartment, refreshing your Twitter feed, wondering where follower 2038 has gone. You aren’t the kind to keep an actual list of followers, I hope. If so, it might take you a while to check and double check the list of names to find the disappeared.

There is, of course, software you might use to isolate changes in your Twitterdom to find my handle is the one that is gone.

Don’t think too poorly of me. I followed you once for some good reason. Who knows? Maybe I will follow you again.

But it is awkward, isn’t it? The knowing that you are still following someone who is no longer following you. The relationship has changed. No more favorites. No RTs. A lonely silence on Follow Fridays.

Try to move on. Don’t wallow in the misery. Use the disappointment to help you grow strong.

I wish you all the happiness in the world. You deserve followers who appreciate your every tweet. May you be richly blessed and, when the time comes, may your Twitter account be verified and graced by that little blue check that means so much to so many. That moment when the world is forced to recognize that you are exactly who you say you are.

Until then, my friend, take care of yourself. Try to be brave. You have 2037 other followers to think about. Tweet them well.

How Twitter Connects Writers with Readers

Two months ago, I posted a review of Barbara Abercrombie’s Year of Writing Dangerously. It is the kind of thing readers do spontaneously when they enjoy a book. They want to share that book. Readers who blog share by writing reviews.

Yesterday, the author of that book, Barbara Abercrombie, tweeted a link to my review. It was kind of her because it gave my review new readers. It felt really good to have an author I enjoyed read and acknowledge my own work in some small way. It was a nice gesture.

Here’s the thing: her random share was helpful to both of us. I have felt stuck for weeks and got myself unstuck last night because I recalled the things that originally inspired me in her book, I felt a small sense of acknowledgment from someone further along the writing path and I reread my post with fresh eyes and liked what I saw. I wrote again last night, and it was fun.

The share was helpful to her because it connected her readers with a favorable, honest reader review of her work. Reviews in vetted publications still matter very much to writers. There is still no substitute for a positive review in NY Times, Kirkus, Library Journal or Publishers Weekly. Those publications help book buyers know what to buy and what to avoid. As a reader, I need something more than just a critical evaluation of a book’s content and technical execution. I want to know if readers like me connect with the book. If professional reviewers rave about a book, but no readers are blogging about it, I don’t feel as enthusiastic about picking it up.

Writers seeking their audience should consider the small, simple connections made possible by Twitter. Writing isn’t supposed to be one directional. Writing is supposed to be a conversation. Twitter is a tool that helps make that possible.

The Earth Moved (Just a Little)

The Earth moved today. Okay, the Earth actually moves everyday. Today I actually noticed it moving.

I was in my home office (Oak Ridge, TN), working on review notes for a friend’s article, when all the walls in the house began to shake. It was loud but not terribly frightening. It lasted only a few seconds.

At first, I thought the front of my house had been struck by a strong gust of wind, but I looked outside and none of the trees were moving.

Strangely enough, my first instinct was to post to Facebook and Twitter to see if anyone else had felt the tremor

While posting, my neighbor called to see if we felt the tremor. They had just had their pilot light activated and wondered if something had gone very wrong. We assured each other that we weren’t crazy.

A few seconds later the tweets and Facebook posts started rolling in. Friends felt it from miles away. Turns out a large part of the South

Fascinating to see so many people reach for Facebook to share the experience or just confirm sanity.  Equally fascinated to get a tweet from a friend in Nashville who didn’t feel the tremor but had seen a news article tweeted a few moments before.

This is how news travels now. We turn to Facebook to make sure our people are okay and Twitter provides the information on what’s going on.

A completely minor, non-event. Still, a nice, gentle reminder that it’s all connected.

Mindful Tweeting

I’m normally a pretty cordial fellow. I don’t like to upset people and try to be both respectful and professional. I try to be mindful in how I communicate with others. I blew it today.

I attended a meeting with a sales rep from a fairly major company selling mobile app products and services to the college. The rep jumped right into his presentation without taking time to really introduce himself or explain why mobile applications are important to the college. He certainly didn’t take the time to find out why we are interested in exploring mobile enterprise products. His presentation was loaded with reminders of how “popular” mobile is right now and how “frightening” it is how much time we spend with our smart phones and other mobile devices and blah, blah, blah.

The product wasn’t bad. The sales connection was.

I came into the meeting frustrated and grew more so with each passing “popular” and “frightening”. So I tweeted my frustration. Not sure why. Not sure what I was hoping the tweet would accomplish. It was like my “rescue me” note to the world. Don’t bother looking for it. I’ve deleted it. I sent it, forgot it and moved on.

Suffice to say, it was snarky. 140 characters lends itself rather nicely to snarkiness.

A few hours later, a manager from the company emailed me asking for a chance to speak about my tweeted frustrations. I was caught by surprise that someone actually read my tweet. Duh. That’s what tweets are for, right?

I know that smart companies constantly scan the social web for mentions of their company. That’s good business. I was impressed that someone personally reached out to engage me on my issues and discuss further.

Just a reminder that Twitter is a phenomenal tool, connecting us to a host of other people around he world in real time as well as putting us into conversation with the people we need to talk to before we even realize we need to talk to them.

And a reminder to be careful with those 140 character capsules. You can’t know where they are going and what harm or help they are likely to create.

Facebook gives me superpowers

When I was a kid, there were two recurring fantasies that kept me fascinated for years and years:

  • What if every moment of my life were being recorded by my glasses so that everything I saw, said and heard was documented for future archivists to explore and piece together the meaning of my existence?
  • What if I could know where my friends were and what they were doing all the time?

Those would be kinds of super powers. I was a strange kid. Now I’m 37, and I’ve been given those powers. Its called social networks.

I’ve been thinking a lot about social networks recently – what they are for, how they connect us, how they isolate us, how they can make life seem simultaneously more intimate and more remote.

I did an inventory of the social networks I use:

    Google Plus

And I just joined Pinterest, which apparently is more intended for 20-something ladies planning their weddings.

I don’t use these networks all the same way but they all give me superpowers.


I check Facebook at least 5 times a day. I check in when I am someplace interesting. I post pictures and videos of my daughter. I post articles and I like stuff. Timeline may or may not be a huge violation of my personal privacy but I think it is pretty great that it can aggregate data from my day and put it all together in one neat, well-organized, more or less sequential line. Some of my friends do the same. That’s both powers: the power to document my own life — mundane and sublime — as well as the power to know where my friends are at any given time and what they are doing.


I’ve become a bigger Tweeter just recently. Mostly because it is the most compact, information-rich way to find out what people you are interested in are thinking about. The biggest difference: you “friend” people on Facebook; you “follow” people on Twitter. Reading someone’s Twitter feed can be like peeking inside their brain. People unfollow me from time to time. I don’t get offended. When people “unfriend” me it hurts just a little.

Google Plus

I’ll be honest. I don’t actually use Google Plus very much. I haven’t taken the time to figure out what it’s for. I do like the concept of Circles where groups of friends can share posts but I haven’t had a “group” of friends since early high school. I’m pretty much an everybody or nobody kind of guy these days. So, maybe Google Plus doen’t actually give me superpowers, yet, but if I had a superhero outfit I could do worse than the nifty +1 logo.


I will have to save LinkedIn for another post. I have a passive-aggressive relationship there. I love the ability to see who I know that knows somebody else I know in a completely different context. Superpower: omniscience. The ability to directly perceive how everything is related. Unfortunately, LInkedIn fails to satisfy my kidhood fantasies as I rarely check in and keep meaning to update my profile with all the Important, Serious Stuff I am doing at work. If I’m not updating my basic profile, am I really present?


I underuse the social aspect of this network. I use GoodReads pretty much just to list the books I’ve read and keep track of books I want to read. I do keep up with what a few of my friends are reading there, but, to be honest, my favorite part is posting GoodReads updates to Facebook because that’s where the people are.


Very few comments on my blog so far. To be fair, I very rarely read other WordPress blogs, let alone comment. So, I don’t know for sure that I am actually using WordPress as a social network. But I do get a thrill when people read and tell me they read what I wrote. Superpower: back to the documenting my existence for future scholars. Its the Quotidian in Ubiquitous Quotidian.

PInterest and Tumblr

I’ll leave both of these alone for now since I haven’t used them much. I suspect I’m too wordy to connect with these image blogs much.

I can see that this post started out as one thing and has become something of another. Back to the beginning, Facebook gives me superpowers. That idea deserves another try again soon. I should slow down a bit and notice how I really use Facebook.