More musings on Twitter

December 7, 2008 by Josh · 1 Comment
Filed under: Tech 

I’ve been spending more and more time on Twitter recently and I wanted to collect a few random thoughts and experiences I have had to share with blog readers.

One of the coolest things about Twitter to me is that I can be in contact with people I couldn’t normally meet through other sites like Facebook which are meant to build an online collection of people you already know or nestled away in Ohio.

For example yesterday I hopped on to Twitter and saw a page full of updates from MC Hammer, the actual MC Hammer, and I replied “@MCHammer Opened Twitter to a page full of MCHammer updates, musta been Hammertime on Twitter!” Had this been any other network I belonged to I’m sure the “conversation” would have ended at that. Instead I got a tweet back a few minutes later, “@Josh_Smith U got it Josh”.

While it’s not as if MC Hammer and I sat down and discussed the meaning of life over coffee at Starbucks, this brief exchange was similar to many others I have had with prominent writers, CEOs and others on Twitter. Short sometimes meaningful bursts of conversation.

I’ve also found Twitter to be an excellent source of checking local road conditions when traditional media was slow to report on the actual road conditions. And I recently found out that many great Broadway shows come to Ohio stopping in Columbus and other cities because I follow BroadwayAllison on Twitter.

When I had suggested we see a Broadway play in the near future my friends scoffed that, “We aren’t in NY” and were genuinely surprised when I told them about Grease playing in Columbus, OH!

There are a lot of wrong ways to use Twitter and it is easy to have a bad experience if you go in looking for one but if you just want to make connections with other people Twitter is a great tool.

Are you following Josh_Smith on Twitter? If not go sign up and let’s chat.

Web 2.0, support systems and Tobias Buckell

November 19, 2008 by Josh · 1 Comment
Filed under: Tech 

Whatever you do when someone you care about is in trouble, you should start doing it now. One of my great friends and a talented writer, Tobias Buckell, went into the hospital yesterday for a heart problem; one they are still trying to track down. While Toby is doing better than when he was admitted to the ER early Tuesday morning he is still under observation and continues to look like a prototype of the Six Million Dollar Man.

Throughout this whole ordeal Toby has been blogging the experience and updating us on his status as well as twittering other updates during the past day and a half. According to one source close to Toby, twittering has been one of the most helpful distractions from the hospital, which I’m sure is a major plus.

This brings me to two points regarding blogs and Twitter. First of all I am extremely thankful for the information that I was able to find out about his current condition without constantly bothering his family but the whole process highlighted an important aspect of relying on Twitter for important communication. Yesterday; when Twitter was undergoing, “database maintenance”, I felt extremely cut off from the situation and refreshed Twitter more than a Wooter trying to get the next Wootoff item. Even though Twitter was able to stand up to the recent election, it can prove unreliable when it’s most important to you, meaning it might not be up for mission critical duties just yet.

Getting back to my other point, it is amazing to see the outpouring of support for Tobias and his family both on and on the BoingBoing post about his latest novel Sly Mongoose. As I write this there are almost 300 comments from writers, readers, family and friends on Tobias’ website and likely untold numbers of facebook, livejournal, instant and email messages waiting for him. The fact that Web 2.0 and social networking have the possibility to quickly lend and direct support to a person and their family in a time of need cements the importance of social media, networking and blogging, at least to me.

While you have a minute, take a second to share your well wishes over at Toby’s page, keep him in your thoughts, prayers, tweets and blog posts while he recovers.

I know, personally, I can’t imagine a world without the characters and worlds Toby brings to life in his writing, any more than I can imagine a world without a friend like Toby.

Get well dude, I need to beat Gears of War 2 with you, the locust hordes won’t wait forever!

How Cedar Point could use Twitter

October 23, 2008 by Josh · 2 Comments
Filed under: Tech 

It seems that businesses and people everywhere are jumping on Twitter and some are doing it well while others, like the local comedy club who is promoting upcoming shows from a protected feed are doing it poorly to say the least. I spent Saturday at Cedar Point with some friends and was twittering the waits away in line when I came to the realization that theme parks and amusement parks need Twitter more than diabetics need insulin!

With Twitter Cedar Point could:

  • Allow guest to get ride wait times
  • Tell guests when rides are down
  • Promote specials to people throughout the year
  • Get showtimes for in park entertainment
  • Learn about in park disruptions or issues
  • emergency broadcast system

I’m sure other Twitterers can come up with a few more reasons but by far the most useful way to use Twitter from a rollercoaster rider’s standpoint has to be automated wait time updates. If Remember the Milk and so many other services can use the Twitter API to handle automated responses I’m sure Cedar Point could cook up a service to deliver ride wait lengths to them park goers over Twitter.

The park already has wait lengths posted at the beginning of each line, it would only take a minimal investment to put an electronic wait display that updates Twitter while informing those close by. As an added bonus, the new system could log wait times to help Cedar Point better understand the guest experience and learn how to tailor the experience to make more money while providing a better experience for visitors.

The Twitter feed could also be used to send out alerts when a ride goes down explaining what Cedar Point knows about the issue and a time estimate if it is available. I know this would have made my day when we were standing in line for the Maverick trying to decipher an attendant’s mumbling explanation.

From a promotion standpoint Twitter would provide Cedar Point with a quick and easy way to promote specials for season passes or ticket sales. So long as the deals were worthwhile people will still follow, just look at Dell Deals. The Twitter feed could also be used to promote shows and specials events like the current Halloween parades.

Finally if Cedar Point listens to Twitter for mentions of the park they can stay on top of disturbances, dirty bathrooms, commotions, and other issues that people will complain about on Twitter. Also in the unlikely event that something goes wrong at the park the Twitter account can be used to blast out relevant info quickly.

In all there are plenty of opportunities for Cedar Point to make use of Twitter to better reach out to their already enthusiastic audience. If anyone from Cedar Point is reading this right now feel free to reach out for more details!

A Comparison of Election Twitter Tactics

October 2, 2008 by Josh · 1 Comment
Filed under: Tech 

The above image is currently on during the debate. I don’t care which side you’re on, this to me is a huge indication of character and tactics. I wish both of these accounts would have had a “Good Luck!” or Hoping to share information with America, rather than seeing McCain link to an ad of “gotcha moments” starring Biden.

What are your thoughts?

/politics on Imjosh, back to the regularly scheduled tech and books.

What’s a rumor on Twitter? It’s a Twrumor!

September 15, 2008 by Josh · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Tech 

Have you felt the need to describe a rumor so far found only on Twitter? For lack of a better term I decided to coin it a Twrumor.

A prime example of a Twrumor as I write this:

Just down at Lehman headquarters and Associated Press reporter says that rumors are that AIG will declare bankruptcy tomorrow.

Via Scobleizer on Twitter

What do you think? Got anything better? By the way AIG Terrible Tuesdays Batman!

Cool Windows Mobile apps to ease iPhone envy

July 16, 2008 by Josh · 4 Comments
Filed under: Phone PDA 

After playing around with Tobias Buckell’s iPhone, rocking the 2.0 firmware update, over lunch I decided I needed to find some cool new applications for my Samsung i760 which I had just upgraded to Windows Mobile 6.1. I found 4 cool programs which help me feel like I can at least wait for the third generation iPhone.

  • Tiny Twitter - A Twitter client for Windows mobile which provides some excellent features and a nice user interface. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to let you check out a time line from an @Josh_Smith or click on links which have been tweeted.
  • AIM for Windows Mobile - Currently out in beta the new incarnation of AIM for Windows mobile is leaps and bounds ahead of previous offerings and unlike its many competitors it is free. The design, interface and usability are all elegant.
  • Skyfire - This internet browser is leaps ahead of the other mobile competitors despite being in private beta a the moment. You can sign up to get access in the next wave of the beta. I highly recommend you check this out. Though depending on Opera Mobile 9.5, I may have to change my browser, we’ll have to wait and see.
  • Mobipocket - This is an excellent ebook reader with a really cool store integration and guess what! You can’t get MobiPocket on the iPhone yet so feel free to give your iPhone toting friends a ” nener nener nener”, the next time you see them.

There you have it, my favorite new WM apps which will at least provide some help to avoid the iPhone jealousy!

I’m Twittering Now

February 10, 2008 by Josh · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Tech, higher education 

I joined Twitter last week and I am still experimenting to see how useful it is.  I was spurred to join by an article regarding the use of Twitter in Academia on academhack.  I am excited by the aspect of using this as a tool for either academia or for linking constituents back to a cause or institution.  I hope to explore using Twitter this fall when I teach a course at Bluffton University and I’d like to find a method of using Twitter to connect with donors.  Connecting with donors may be trickier but my initial thought is that a donor or supporter can follow an organization on Twitter without divulging their personal information and get the information how they want it using Twitter preferences.

Feel free to follow me on Twitter or look for updates on the left sidebar and be assured I will share my thoughts on using Twitter at a non profit here in the event of any breakthroughs.