Wednesday, March 23, 2011

To Tweet or Not to Tweet?

Anthony Gottlieb's essay Montaigne's Moment in a recent edition of The New York Times book review section reports that Michel de Montaigne has been called the first blogger. This 16th century landowner and magistrate's ruminations on his thoughts included such "fascinating" tidbits as his wine preferences, as well as quotations from many classical works -- an early version of links, it could be argued.

The self-involved nature of Montaigne's musings calls to mind tweeters who feel compelled to announce to the world that they ran out of tea or are bored in class. (The mom in me makes me want to reply to the latter: Pay attention instead of tweeting and you might actually learn something.) Books and articles on business marketing now counsel regular tweeting (daily, not weekly or monthly). Okay, but does anyone have profound and interesting things to say that often? So if I'm supposed to send out 140-character missives on a daily basis -- if not more frequently -- I'll wind up tweeting about trivial things.

These articles advise tweeting about current projects, and doing so frequently to show that you are busy working. First of all, many of the non-disclosure agreements I sign would make it difficult to tweet anything other than shallow generalities, along the lines of "I'm translating a long technical guide from Switzerland." Then, if I'm really that busy working, I don't have time to tweet. And if I have time to tweet, then I don't have projects to write about.

Frankly, I have a hard enough time coming up with topics to blog about every week. I am willing to give tweeting a try if I can think about a large enough supply of ideas to write about. To that end: What topics would you, kind readers, like to hear about in this blog (and/or on Twitter)?

Here is one tweet I could have sent if had a Twitter account: My guest blog post on audience-focused documentation was just published on the ATA Science & Technology Division's blog.

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