Twitter is easy to use, says the Lowrider Librarian. Ha!

Maybe it’s easy if you were born in 1992. But I was born in ’83, kids, and I’m telling you, it ain’t easy.

Or maybe it’s easy if you take a little time to figure it out instead of falling back on fears and stereotypes. Maybe. I’m not convinced.

Today I have been out on the Internet, learning the language of the natives. @, it turns out, simply means that you’re posting something as a reply to what someone else says. I’d give an example, but I’m pretty sure everyone in the world already knew that except me. I’m still confused about how you read it — do you actually pronounce “at” in your head (“[at]hermaincain No. Just, no”)? Or in this case, would the @ be read as “to”? Or do you just, not read it? Does it signal something, point you somewhere, without actually meaning something on its own?

# is a hashtag. It’s used to… tag. For example, today on my Twitter, the National Institutes of Health posted this: “#WALS The Griffin lecture has ended, and we are going to the reception at the #nihlibrary nihlibrary.nih.gov.” You may not know what WALS is,* but if you know that # is a hashtag then you may know to click on it and find other tweets on the same subject. This works best, of course, when you have an interest in the subject being hashtagged. This is something I’m still learning about — I’m not sure if Twitter offers an option to search hashtags only (I haven’t found one**).

RT = Retweet. Again, I’ll keep this short, since it’s probably obvious to everyone except me. This means that someone you follow tweets something interesting. You want to pass it along to everyone you know, and so you retweet. Now everyone in your network can see the tweet and know who posted it originally. (Just figured this out: when you mouse over a tweet, a little “Retweet” link shows up below it. Hey, maybe this stuff is easy.)

SC = Social Capital. Not Street Cred.

That’s what I’ve internalized for today. For more Twitter glossaries, visit:

Some final thoughts: Twitter’s not intuitive. If it were there wouldn’t be so many guidebooks, guideblogs, etc. floating around Google. If you’re using it as an individual, because you enjoy it, then this is probably fine. You will learn as you go, and you’ll get the hang of things as you want/need to. But the non-intuitiveness strikes me as problematic for libraries who decide to get on board. Most of the libraries I’m now following seem to be writing for people who already know Twitter. And maybe this is fine — it’s really not rocket science. On the other hand, if I approached this as “library user” v. “person completing a homework assignment” then I wouldn’t take the time to figure out what #NCSS11 means.

Coming soon:

Libraries and Twitter: The Profiles!

*Hint: it’s not a disease. I thought the same thing.

**Oh duh. To search by hashtags only, put the # in front of your search term. If you happen to like terriers, you might want to avoid the search “#terrier” — too many sad pups that you can’t adopt.


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