Twitter = online pointillism

Georges SeuratI finally get it, what makes Twitter so popular. Here I was afraid I was just too old. Whew, I feel much cooler now.

Never heard of it? No worries, you too can be cool and in-the-know.

Twitter is a site where you post what you are doing. Right now. In 140 characters or less (about the length of this paragraph).

You can pick people to “follow” so you see what they are doing. You may have people follow you as well. You can tweet from your phone, to make updates from the road. You can even post your tweets on Facebook and other social networking sites, to keep your entire online life organized all in one place for your friends’ convenience.

At first glance, this may seem like some sort of bizarre ADD-inspired site, for those who need an excuse to change focus every few minutes. Individual comments have little to no meaning.

But actually, if all your friends are on it – which is true for the younger generation – they can see, at a glance, who’s busy and who might be free to do something fun. No need to call friends one by one.

That’s not the only use, however. Tweet for business, and suddenly your staff have insight into how you spend your day and what’s important to you. Tweet about specific hobbies or your career, and others who share that interest can see what a day in your life is like.

Twitter has even been used for online games, like Color Wars 2008. Consider it a social experiment, not a game with a traditional start and finish. That one, I admit, I still don’t completely understand.

Georges Seurat zoomI’m looking at Twitter now as a micro-blog, where the comments make sense in the context of a bigger picture, whether it’s someone’s hobbies, their life, their perspective. Twitter reminds me of a trend I learned back in art history, called pointillism. It was made famous by Georges-Pierre Seurat’s painting shown above. At right is a close-up where you can see that it’s made up of colored dots. The dots, individually, make no sense, but when viewed collectively, as part of a larger picture, it makes up a gorgeous work of art.

Suddenly Twitter, viewed as part of a larger picture, makes a lot more sense to me.
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Get to know your favorite writer

Seth Godin Purple CowDoes your favorite writer or business icon blog? Because a blog gives you an easy way to connect with your idol. I’ve got many friends who’ve used blogs to do just that.

With people you normally can’t reach, or people you don’t already know, you have to get their attention. You could do something wild, crazy, and desperate. Or you can simply read and comment on their blogs. Regularly.

Your comments must be thoughtful, relevant, and insightful. Something more than “thanks for the great post.” Something that makes them think – a change of perspective, a real-life example, a well-reasoned contrarian argument. Whatever. Bloggers need fresh content several times a week, so if you give them new ideas, they are likely to start noticing.

I will admit, I comment on other blogs, but I haven’t deliberately focused on making this kind of connection. While I can speak in front of hundreds of people, I am oddly shy about this. Go figure. But one of these days there will be someone I want to meet, and now I know how to make this happen.
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Don’t abandon your blog – use scheduled publishing

WordpressBlogging is big, and one of the biggest challenges in blogging is finding time to do it regularly. Most blogs are abandoned after a few months or even a few weeks. I’m continuing to post several times a week, and my secret is simple: sit down for a block of time every 2-3 weeks and write a bunch of posts.

After I get my posts ready, I schedule them at regular intervals and even arrange them to make sure there’s plenty of variety. If I get inspiration in between my blogging marathons, I capture it with a draft post so it’s saved for my next session.