This blog represents most of the newspaper columns (appearing in various Colorado Community Newspapers and Yourhub.com) written by me, James LaRue, during the time in which I was the director of the Douglas County Libraries in Douglas County, Colorado. (Some columns are missing, due to my own filing errors.) This blog covers the time period from April 11, 1990 to January 12, 2012.

Unless I say so, the views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They may be quoted elsewhere, so long as you give attribution. The dates are (at least according my records) the dates of publication in one of the above print newspapers.

The blog archive (web view) is in chronological order. The display of entries, below, seems to be in reverse order, new to old.

All of the mistakes are of course my own responsibility.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

April 16, 2009 - tim miller tweets

[The library employs a host of wonderful people, and it's fun to see what they're up to. This week, library employee Tim Miller talks about about living in Twitter Town. - Jamie LaRue]

I've only been a citizen of what some people call "Twitter Town" for about a week now, and I love it already. My web browser always has a Twitter tab up. On The Net, this electronic tossed salad of people,places, institutions, and bots goes by the domain name twitter.com. If you haven't joined this quickly growing community of "Tweeters"already, sign up now.

Twitter is just an upgrade of several older ideas. Chat rooms have existed since the early nineties. A lot of you probably remember the days when you'd come home, crank over your dial-up modem, and hop on AOL for a little strange talk with the other Americans, who weren't playing Nintendo or watching "The Simpsons." Later on, instant and text messaging became the major mediums for communicating with peers.

Chat rooms still exist. They allow people to express and take in newopinions, while meeting other personas. Unfortunately, the open chat format also gives criminals and perverts an easy way to manipulate unaware Net-goers. On the other hand, text and instant messaging allows users to customize who gets a message.

I've never text messaged a random cell phone number. I tend to stay in my social box, where networking and friendship opportunities are limited to the people I talk to every day. That's no good. As a Douglas County Libraries employee, I believe that meeting new people and gaining fresh perspectives is part of lifelong learning and literacy. Sending messages to people I know doesn’t allow me to do those things online.

Then again, chat rooms have become too random and dangerous for me. I never know when some electronic snake-in-the-grass or a software porno solicitor is going to bug me out of any want to be online. This goes for social networking websites like MySpace and Facebook too.

Some people are pretty ambitious when it comes to finding new "friends"on the networking sites. I'm not. Once I've "friended" someone, we might exchange messages once or twice, but then it's over. That person is just another picture on my list of un-friends. If I add the disadvantages above to the fact that it takes a lot of time to answer the "Hey, how ya' doin'?” messages from everyone I've ever known, and the guilt from not staying in touch with them, I have a ginormous lack of motivation to visit MySpace or Facebook.

Twitter has combined the best, and left out the worst, of the chat, text, instant message, and social network concepts. The site works like a single, global chat room, with customizable features that allow users, or "Tweeple," to customize who they follow and what they read.Those annoying solicitors and criminals have taken up residence in this medium too, but all I have to do is block them. Plus, Twitter involves no pressure.

Each "tweet" I leave for followers can only be 140 characters long.That limitation applies to individual messages too. Unlike MySpace or Facebook, I don't have to keep in touch with people I barely remember,or read way-too-detailed accounts of what everyone else is doing on the site. With Twitter, I can read and write what I want, without feeling guilty, while also meeting new people. Tweets can contain links to other pages, so Twitter works like a news aggregator too. I can even get tweets on my cell phone.

People have been talking about Twitter for a while now, but I never tried it until Douglas County Libraries (DCL) started tweeting to notify its patrons of news and upcoming events. Since then, I've been addicted.

You can find and follow DCL on Twitter, under the name "DCLcolorado."If you'd like to read my rants, you can look me up as "tr1str4m" on Twitter, or visit my blog at timotheus.synthasite.com. As always, DouglasCountyLibraries.org is your online access point for lifelong learning and literacy in our communities.

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