How I Use Twitter

As a follow-up to my previous post, I thought I would take a moment to lay out how I make use of Twitter. This will include how I follow the feed, who I follow and what I post there myself.

First, the basics. I am @davidperrey. I’ve had the account since last summer, I follow 290 people and am in turn followed by 178. I have 456 tweets.

Possibly the most unusual thing about me as a Twitter user is that I don’t own a mobile phone. So, clearly, I don’t tweet when out-and-about, which maybe reduces the life-casting, but my tweets are definitely more about mindcasting anyway (now I learned these terms after the comments of the last post, I am going to use them). I also read my twitter feed on the twitter website. If there’s one thing I am looking to change it is this: a better way to catch up would be nice. I just haven’t gotten around to the investigation of some of the applications that are out there and I get by without changing my approach. That does mean I regularly miss tweets, as I am not going back over the many hours of tweeting that occurred while I am away from the computer. I came to accept that I couldn’t read everything, so I just look at what is in front of me, going back only a little way. More often than not (though I have no actual data to back this up!) I will see a retweet from another person I follow for posts that were particularly interesting. The quality bubbles back to the surface. Well, that is the theory.

Who I follow was part of my previous post, but suffice it to say, I follow those that interest me and those include people tweeting on subjects I myself would be unlikely to tweet about. I consider myself primarily a chemist tweeting about science, the local businesses, the pharmaceutical industry, with only the occasional off-topic post, but I still want to follow what is going on in those hobby areas. Twitter serves as a way to do that.

What I tweet myself are those articles I come across (either via another tweet or some other means) that I think are of interest to my followers; I look to be consistent in that philosophy. Occasional off-topic, silly or even more far-reaching tweets (the disaster in Haiti springs to mind here) are OK, but not excessively. If I want to tweet on my other interests, I would establish another account on Twitter for that purpose. So far I like my mix as it is and the activation energy required to set up and maintain a second account has not been met.

Who do I follow?

Pharma industry tweeters: I am not big into the business side of the industry, but I keep an eye on the state of things, via people like @FiercePharma and @cafepharma. Also @Dereklowe, who tweets links to his blog In The Pipeline, even though he himself is not a fan of twitter. Pharma companies are not very active, but there are good tweets from @Roche_com, @Boehringer, @Novartis and @JNJComm.

General science: Stephen Hawking (@Prof_S_Hawking) has an account but not many tweets. Ah well. I find that my day-to-day specialized reading is best done via other methods to Twitter – I have an email with the contents of my most-often referenced journals. But twitter is very useful for general science. The journal Nature has quite a presence, but as it covers a broad variety of subjects, the twitter feed it puts out alerts me to what I find interesting without the burden of scanning every issue. @NatureNews is quite a prolific (and responsive) twitterer. Have to mention @NatureChemistry as well. Some others: @ChemistryWorld @newscientist @sciencebase @cenmag, plus @nytimesscience has some good stuff in it too.

Networking/career: I originally signed up on Twitter as a networking tool and because I had heard it to be the hot new place for job searching. Not wanting to miss out I joined, but never really got the job search benefit (perhaps more of a boon within the computer industry?). But I do still follow a number of career and networking related folks, including @LinkedIn, @TriangleNetwork, @AlisonDoyle (for advice) and @JobAngels.

Local to RTP: There are quite a few locals on twitter. For business, it is hard to beat @TriangleBIZJrnl. For goings on in and around the Triangle, with some science as well, we have a long list but I’ll mention @TheRTP @ncbiotech @DurhamNC @bullcity @MyNC @SciTri @RDCH but that is only a subset.

This is already longer than I meant it to be (but I am glad that I didn’t include all this in my original post, as was my earlier plan!). I’ll conclude with a note of some things I don’t use it for yet that I would like to, such as the 3rd party application to follow things and I have not made use of the Lists feature yet. Those two are probably related. When I look back at myself from last summer, just getting started, I am amazed at how I’ve progressed. I wonder if I will think the same in another 6 months? I’ll look back and say “I can’t believe I was doing THAT!”

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