Following on Twitter and the Card Catalog
This is a post that most of the younger set will not understand. I have a degree in History. Back in the old days it was often necessary to get up and go to the library to do research. The card catalog was our Google.
I can already sense eyes rolling at the thought of such antiquity.
The Ironclad rule of Library Resources
It does not matter if you go to the San Francisco Public library, or to the Gleeson Library at the University of San Francisco: The item you want will not be at its’ Call Number location. After you learned this rule, it was much easier to locate materials for a paper. Strunk and White provides guidance:
- Go to the card catalog
- Create an index card for each book or periodical
- Find the materials in the stacks
- Create separate note cards to capture specific notes and make appropriate citations
How does this apply to Twitter?One difficult Twitter chore is to decide whom to follow. Yes, you can simply follow everybody. Imagine sitting is a stadium with 80,000 people posting to Twitter. The Signal to Noise ration will fall well below 1:1 –- that is you will have plenty of noise, and not enough signal. The better choice is to filter some of the noise by selecting good sources to follow:
- What are you interested in following?
- Who are the thought leaders, important contributors in these niches?
- Who can you (should you) ignore?
A Personal ExampleI was searching for information during the Central Texas Wildfires of September, 2011. The main stream media (Washington and New York) can’t locate Texas on a map, so they were of no use. The local media was also well behind on coverage.
Several people on Twitter started gaining traction, started to form gravity. As I followed these people, they led me to others that might not be as outspoken, but that were feeding critical information. The second group was providing raw data that were being re-tweeted (curated) by the thought leaders.