Monthly Archives: December 2009

Book review: “All a Twitter” by Tee Morris

I sat on the review of this excellent book with a long title, All A Twitter: A Personal and Professional Guide to Social Networking with Twitter, for some time.  I happened to meet Tee Morris at BlogWorldExpo this fall and see where the humor and energy in the book came from.  He does an excellent job of guiding the beginner and professional through the phases of Twitter.

His entry chapter What is Twitter (and What It Is Not) lays the groundwork for the reasons most people don’t understand the whats and whys of Twitter and explains them in humor and direct example.  For those that still don’t get it, or those using it and don’t get it, this is for you.

After a couple chapters on establishing an account, setting up your profile and the please do’s and please do not’s, he talks of working beyond the website.  He does have chapters on outside tools, and I shook my head in amazement he left out EverythingTwitter as a great source to find whatever you need.  Yes, I mentioned this to him jokingly in email and he took it in great fun as he must have heard from many people.

Pay special attention to the chapter on The Trouble with Twitter as it does an excellent job of covering the fail whale, issues with some very personal information sharing, signal to noise ratios and dealing with the explosive growth of Twitter and how it affects the technical performance side.

Chapters 10 and 11 cover how to use Twitter for personal and business use respectively and make the most benefit of it no matter how you wish to use it. From communicating with friends and family to promoting products/services, events, conferences, podcasts and more.  In all he covers how Twitter is a tool to be used in so many ways and gives concrete examples of each.

Chapter 12 is an eye opener for most that only hear hype around using Twitter.  Tee talks about the darker side of what goes on and the dymanics of how we are all interconnected.  Who do you follow?  Who do you ignore?  Should you block?  What about spammers? Bots? Incomplete profiles and more.  It is succinct and honest about some of the behind the scenes issues that power users see daily.

Mr Morris leaves with why he is on Twitter and how he uses it in daily work and promotion before an appendix of some terms and more tools.

At ~260 pages, this is a must have for those entering social media with Twitter and makes for a clear and concise read with just enough technical information for any level of user.  Amazon has it for only $14.99 right now and I think that is quite the bargain.  Published by Que.

Disclaimers: This book was sent to read free of charge through some promo people and I was not obligated to say anything good or bad about it.  I actually read the darn thing and enjoyed it, even with how I use Twitter on a daily basis.  After meeting Tee Morris I saw some of the drive and determination he had and it made the remainder of the read even more enjoyable as you can place the author with the book.

I also run EverythingTwitter.com and shook him fiercely at BlogWorld when he failed to mention us, the largest review catalog of Twitter tools and add-ons.  Kidding, I never shook him.  He might have tripped, but I am unaware of who did it. :-)

Is the Twitter @ message really a 1:1 conversation? Twitter says no

The Background

In reviewing GraphEdge for EverythingTwitter, I read a recent blog entry from their founder about a limit they hit on Twitter and the response received from Twitter when the subject was broached.

The crux of the issue was on the number of messages an account can send daily.  I went searching for this magic number and found it via Webtrepeneur in this article.  Only 1,000 total updates and 250 direct messages per day on any and all devices are allowed per account.

So the service that is being provided by GraphEdge wanted to send @ messages to customers instead of using their email addresses.  Since the service itself is based on Twitter, why not use Twitter.  They broke the limit and added another account to continue sending when the first reached it’s limit.  Twitter suspended that account.

The Issue

Now here comes the confusion.  Responses from Twitter said that @ messages were meant to be public only, not a conversation.  I think I am torn in this thought process.  A direct message is meant to be a private conversation.  The @ message is meant to be a public conversation.  Picture it much like you are in a room sitting in a circle.  I look across and talk to someone direct, but everyone can hear, follow and interact if they wish.  Then I go whisper in someones ear in the circle, closing the public facet, while still in the same community.

Both are modes of conversation in their own right and should be treated as such.  I understand the theoretical limit Twitter imposes to protect someone from just blasting tweets all day long.  You wouldn’t expect someone to do this in a room, you would ask them to stop and then quietly remove them.  Twitter could do this by slowing an account down and then silencing it for some period of time after the infraction grows.  Break the rule too many times, then you get suspended.  There is justified services that users may opt in to receive @ messages to get updates.

Some of you are thinking, what about the whitelist or firehose Twitter offers?  Those are consumption and application calls, not communication calls like @ and direct message types.  So the limits still stand for sending specific types of messages into the system.  I think there needs to be some balance between authorized and verified applications that require the user to sign in via oAuth and receive a source parameter (sent from “[MyApp]“ in your tweet).

The Opinion

Any type of action in sending a message on Twitter that occurs is considered communication.  Whether it is a public statement, an @ symbol or a direct message.  Limiting how much I talk (when it is not subject to spam) should not be controlled by automated systems.  A mute, ignore or other ability could be included to let my followers decide when I talk too much.

The idea is to have a giant room of your followers and let them come by an engage when they feel necessary no matter how often I stand on a box, talk to a person so it can be overheard or drag someone to a corner and whisper in their ear.

Google Voice as your home phone switchboard

A recent group chat brought up the question of what to do when you no longer use a home phone line and everyone has cell phones.  How do you route to just the right person in this instance or have the caller announced?  How would you make this work as a single point of entry into reaching your family while still having flexibility?

While the geeks came up with tons of great suggestions, like an Asterisk VoIP system, Google Voice came to my mind as a perfect source to meet all the needs and requirements.  Here is why:

  • Inbound calls at first could be answered on any phone and if it wasn’t for that person you could press * (star) and it will ring the other phones.  Let them pick up
  • As Google Voice gets calls, you could then start routing specific calls to only certain phones through the settings for that contact entry
  • With the above, Google Voice becomes a household phonebook and directory.  Can’t find your daughter’s friends phone number, look in Google Voice.  That person has a directory entry with all the info you need.
  • Want to route all calls to a temporary number while you are away, like on vacation, to save cell minutes and costs?  Easy as can be.  You can create temp entries even on the road with your pin number.  This help document describes it all.
  • You can have the system screen all callers, unknown callers or none.  Your choice and your way to know if it is for you
  • Built in conference calling.  Yes Google Voice can do conference calling on inbound calls to the voice number.  Your phone must support call waiting for this to work, which almost all do.
  • Everyone can call out as that number to make it appear as a home phone, protecting your cell numbers.
  • Everyone can use the native Google Voice app on Android and Blackberry, (as we wait for the iPhone approval still), the computer and other browsers to check voicemail and answer texts.

There are many more items that make it an easy sell.  I think this is a wave (no pun) of the future of calling services as what device you use does not matter.

Facebook changed their security policy – what are your new settings?

The first question to ask yourself is if you have gone into Facebook and verified the security settings on your account.  On my other blog, TheSocialNetworker, I did a quick 2 minute video showing you the changes Facebook has implemented to the default settings on privacy settings.

You should be aware that their attempt is to make more of the information you have uploaded and continue to upload more public.  Meaning such things as pictures, profile information and wall posts available to the public stream.  You do have the ability to restrict this and should take the time to make the effort.

If you have been concerned with how much information is available about yourself online, this should raise that to new heights.  For Facebook to take the stance that they can make sweeping changes to publicize what was personal has many people deleting their accounts.

I could have seen Facebook implementing a feature request where you have to log in and select what items you wish to be public, and I mean area by area.  Not in large category scale.  Some would claim that would be a time consuming process and overhead they did not want to absorb.  I counter with the fact that you have already established security guidelines and expectations that apparently can be changed on a whim based on what advertisers wish and your expected growth.

Facebook is trying to become the phone book of the Internet.  Are you unlisted?