Yesterday I favourited (or should I say ‘favorited’) a tweet from @lisaharris which had a link to an article on “Scholars Seek Better Ways to Track Impact Online” published in The Chronicle of Higher Education. An hour or so later I received a direct message (DM) asking me if I was interested in exploring possibilities of joint work in this area. We exchanged a few messages and agreed to discuss this more using a technology which allows for more in-depth discussions – the telephone :-)
It occurred to me that this is an interesting example of frictionless sharing - I spotted a link to an interesting resource and decided to bookmark it (using Twitter’s ‘favorite’ function) for reading later. The bookmarking takes place in public (as, for example, I also do when I wish to bookmark web resources using Delicious or Diigo). And as a result of this public action Lisa Harris, who posted the tweet on Sunday morning, got in touch with me.
I have found that being aware of such Twitter favouriting activities has become easier following recent developments to Twitter’s mobile client. As shown in the accompanying image (on the right if viewing this post in a web browser), such activities are readily accessible via the Twitter.com web site on a desktop PC. But since, as with increasing numbers of other Twitter users, a mobile device is now my preferred method of using Twitter, it’s the Interactions tab on my iPod Touch which typically alerts me to similar activities, as shown below.
It should be noted that access to such interactions are not available on all Twitter clients. A lack of awareness of Twitter’s more subtle aspects is perhaps an example of why people may fail to ‘get” Twitter. As I mentioned in a recent post on Twitter? It’s Better Than The Most Things (According to Sturgeon) there is a need to understand techniques for filtering Twitter content which are best exploited by using a dedicated Twitter client. In this example, however, we can see that there can be benefits in accessing content (interactions) which may not be available on all clients.
It is appropriate that the screenshot of recent interactions mentions Amber Thomas blog post on “Why I Blog“. In the post Amber explains why she is embracing ‘open practices in her role as a JISC programme manager. She cites Lou McGill’s definition of open practices:
By Open practices I mean a broad range of practices which have an ‘open’ philosophy, intention or approach [...] Informal and formal open practice takes place within wider societal contexts which are evolving rapidly. Open practices take place in, and are enabled by, a highly connected socially networked environment”
Amber’s post primarily addresses the open practices within the context of blogging, and covers associated metrics which can demonstrate the ways in which the content is being used and shared. However as we can see Twitter also provides an example of open practices in which the value lies not just in the content which is shared in the 140 characters or the embedded links but also in simple frictionless sharing actions such as favouriting and retweeting.
Of course there may also be risks in public bookmarking activities: it you favourite a tweet on “how to deal with a difficult boss” you may be sending unintended messages to your manager! But open practices will always entail risks – I suspect the question will be what your personal attitude to risks are. And perhaps if you are an optimist you will see the advantages which can be gained in open practices, as I suggested in a post on “A Tweet Takes Me To Catalonia“. But if you are at heart a pessimist, you may well worry about how your tweets could be used against you. I can’t help but think that embracing open practices says a lot about the individual rather than the technology. On reflection, this is an over-simplistic analysis as I know several people I follow on Twitter who enjoy sharing their grumbles on Twitter, particularly related to public transport failures around the south west!