Twitter integration

by Walter Olson on September 19, 2008

As alert readers may have noticed, I began using Twitter recently (@walterolson) and have been experimenting over the past week with what it can do. I’ve now added Alex King’s Twitter Tools plugin for WordPress, which makes it possible to integrate blog functions with those of Twitter. I’m giving a tryout to two new functions:

* Now featured atop the rightmost column of this site is a list of my five most recent Twitter posts. Some are ultra-brief summaries of Overlawyered or Point of Law posts, while others point to law-related articles or news stories in lieu of writing them up at full post length, and yet others contain non-law-related or even personal content. If you want to keep abreast with these in something close to real time without coming back to visit the site itself, “follow” @walterolson (on your Twitter account) or use the @walterolson RSS feed (distinct from the regular Overlawyered posts and comments feeds).

* Once a day Twitter Tools will generate an Overlawyered post like this one summing up the last day’s Twitter mini-posts (“tweets”). In their native form, these roundups have a rather raw look, replete with artificially truncated URLs (of the tinyurl and is.gd variety), often not identifying the article source, etc. If time and inclination permits, I’ll try to clean these up and make them more Overlawyered-relevant by reinserting “real” URLs, via links, earlier/further reading, etc., maybe cutting pure personal stuff, etc.

* Here’s a list of lawyers and law types on Twitter. I’m listed at #230.

* This is all, obviously, experimental, and aimed at seeing whether the new formats appeal to existing readers and reach new ones. If it does work well, I might take further steps, such as systematically broadcasting Overlawyered content on Twitter (a reader volunteer might come in really useful on that). One step at a time, though.

* More: If you’re a reader whose Twitter posts might furnish good story tip material for this site, and I realize that, there’s a good chance I’ll try following you; I’ve already done three posts using material I found in Twitter streams. (This is by contrast with Facebook, where I follow a more conservative policy, and mostly accept as friends only those I “really” know or at least have emailed with a fair bit).

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Twitter for 2008-09-19
09.20.08 at 12:00 am

{ 8 comments }

1 Kevin OKeefe 09.19.08 at 12:34 pm

Great use of Twitter Walter. Just discussed with my developers yesterday to add to my blog. It’s micro-blogging and should be displayed in flagship blog.

2 Adrian Lurssen 09.19.08 at 1:24 pm

Interesting post. I think this works well on this blog.

I love Twitter and post regularly, daily – but am reluctant to stream it onto our blog (scoop.jdsupra.com) because not everything I tweet is on topic.

If I used Twitter exclusively as a two-way social bookmarking device (“this reading interests me; what interests you?”) then, sure, I’d do it. But a personal hurdle seems to be: seeing the two – traditional blog & micro blog – as having a slightly different ambiance to them. One more serious than the other.

I suppose this is a personal bias – you Twitter stream integrates well, after all – and I’ll have to re-think it. In our next blog revamp, around the corner, I will stream in social bookmarks – many of the links to interesting reading that I share on Twitter – but by filtering them through another service (like Delicious, etc.) I’ll spare the blog readers from hearing about my kids, and how they like to make homemade potato chips with grandma.

A personal bias, I realize, and each blog (and its editorial context) calls for something different.

Short answer: yours looks good.

Adrian

3 Walter Olson 09.19.08 at 1:50 pm

Thanks, yes, I sense that same tension, and don’t know how stable it will be to approach Twitter primarily in the spirit of social bookmarking. I’ve already found myself refraining from joining into purely social conversations, or replying off-stream, so as not to push my stream too far off-topic. One approach might be “Facebook for those who might care how I spent the weekend, Twitter for microblogging”. Another might be multiple Twitter accounts, a path down which madness might lie.

4 Adrian Lurssen 09.19.08 at 2:55 pm

A third approach: allow your online presence to be a blend of the personal and the professional. A tricky one, because so many of us are not naturally inclined to that sensibility. The open tech platform meets the open lifestream.

It’s something we hear a lot. At the heart of this latest online landscape: the best way to extend your brand, make your point, influence your constituents, whatever – is to be entirely transparent. Live your life (your lives) online – blend the personal and the professional. (Most recently heard from Rick Klau at the LMA event in SF, last week. He’s a classic example of such.) The point has also been made: it wouldn’t be very different from the way we conduct ourselves off line (business lunches, client entertainment, networking parties, golf, etc.)

But I still return to that very personally defined hurdle: whether or not my blog readers want to hear what I’m having for lunch, or which Grateful Dead video I’m watching on YouTube. (There are a bunch of great vids there, btw.):-)

Do people still conduct business over golf? And would it handicap the game to Twitter about it?

5 Laurie/Halo Secretarial 09.19.08 at 3:24 pm

As for feeding twitter some of your blog content, try out Twitterfeed, it will do it automatically for you!

I personally feel it’s okay to blend a little of the personal into a business blog – all of the facets of life are what make us individuals and may help people understand so much more about us. But there are certainly times when it will be too much (so I don’t usually post details about my lunch!!)

6 Brett Trout 09.19.08 at 3:33 pm

Great post Walter. Integration may work well for some online personalities, but I find my blog audience and tweeps are just too different to make integration of much use to them.

Worse, while I have a Twitter Grade of 92, I fear my off-topic esoteric tweets might even put off some of my blog readers. While some of my social networks do overlap, I let the individuals decide for themselves what input they want from me.

Another problem is that if, in the future, you decide to split the networks up and stop providing Twitter feeds on the blog, will there be a backlash from readers? You have hit upon a very interesting set of dynamics; I am looking forward to what others have to say on the subject.

7 Walter Olson 09.20.08 at 12:06 am

Thanks, Laurie/Halo Secretarial, for the tip about TwitterFeed. I tried it out and it seems to have worked perfectly in creating Twitter feeds for this site (@overlawyered) and Point of Law (@pointoflaw).

8 Walter Olson 09.20.08 at 11:17 pm

Many serious bloggers, of course, do include light or personal content (catblogging at political sites, Andrew Sullivan’s “mental health break” videos). Clear cueing of which kind of content is which can help readers jump past the fluff quickly if what they want is the policy stuff.

I deliberately included more light off-topic Twitters today (Saturday) because, well, it’s the weekend. That’s another possible separation line.

Adrian’s suggestion about filtering through Delicious to get just the annotated bookmarks without the chat sounds very much worth looking into. Embarrassingly, I’ve never learned how to use Delicious, but I can put that on my to-do list.

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