John Bucher's Intro to Twitter

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John Bucher on Starting to Twitter in Vancouver
Image by: If Twitter sounds like punishment, it's because it is. But the social medium has its virtues too.
It was a long road to Twitter for digital editor John Bucher. And now it's possible he may even like it.

I'm the BCBusiness digital editor, which means two things: 1) I watch over most aspects of how this website appears to you [complaints here], and 2) I am, by necessity, a conflicted soul.

It's a question of constitution. Editors are generally conservative: They fit language to established modes of understanding it. But digital types must embrace the technologies of the moment. Where a traditional editor asks, "How can this new thing be like the old thing?" a digital editor asks, "What's the new thing, and how do I start?" And therein lies the conflict.

I made my first Tweet on February 11, 2009. The digital media team had been on my case to start. "What kind of digital editor is afraid to tweet?" they said. They had a point. Tweeting doesn't sound like something any grown man, editor or not, should fear.

The truth is, I was suspicious – perhaps even afraid. It's a technology thing. I don't own a television, I've never bought an iPod, and my brand-new cellular phone is just my third ever – a record among my friends. The reasoning is simple: If the gizmo I've got serves me well enough, why change it? New technology represents humans' steady march into the future, and there's no guarantee the future is going to be kinder, sweeter, warmer, or more comfortable – although you read such promises on gizmo boxes. That kind of suspicion carries potential hazards, though. Shunning technology, while an admirable gesture for an oil painter or humanities professor, will lose a digital editor his job.

Tweeting, if you belong to the uninitiated, is micro-blogging. If that's less than clear, think about it like this: It's millions of people, all over the world, on their computers (and, increasingly, iPhones and similar gadgets) posting 140-character updates about what they're doing, thinking, reading, and watching. Twitter enables, more than any technology that precedes it, your entry into the chattering collective mind of humanity – or, at least, that portion of it inclined to tweet.

Sound like punishment? It is. But it has its virtues, too. And so, as I approach my two-monthiversary in the Twitterverse, let me share with you what I've learned.


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