I recently published a blog post entitled “Are You Able?“. Shortly after it was published I wrote a tweet which linked to the post. Although at one stage I had registered with a service which would automatically send a tweet when I published a new post I no longer do this. Rather I’ll send a tweet if I think the post might be of particular interest or is relevant to discussions which have taken place in my Twitter community.

Shortly after I sent out my tweet I received a response from George Brett who had retweeted my post (forwarded my tweet to his group of followers):

RT @briankelly: Are your resources available, reusable, usable, accessible, exploitable and preservable? Is it feasible? http://is.gd/jOWg
6:57 AM Feb 17th from TweetDeck

This was followed by another retweet by digicmb (Guus van den Brekel) tweeted:

RT @briankelly: R ur resources available, reusable, usable, accessible, exploitable & preservable? = ur approach feasible? http://is.gd/jOWg from TweetDeck

Now at recent Web 2.0 and blogging workshops I’ve facilitated for staff working in museums, libraries and archives I have been asked how one can demonstrate that time spent in using various Web 2.0 technologies provides an positive return on investment. The impression I get is that people in these sectors do need to demonstrate tangible and measurable benefits in order to justify their usage (and perhaps even have firewalls configured so that the services can be accessed).

How, then, might you provide evidence that Twitter can be used to support organisational aims? Well I currently have 777 followers on Twitter, so I might argue that Twitter can provide a cost-effective dissemination mechanism. And as George Brett has 1,109 followers and Guus van den Brekel has 332, there could be over 2,000 users who have received the notification of my latest blog post.

Job done, you may feel, I’ve provided an example of the how Twitter has the potential to maximise access to one’s digital resources, whether this is a blog post, as in this example, an event, a new service or whatever (although I should add that I haven’t said anything about whether those followers still use Twitter or that they may not be people, but spam harvesters).

But yesterday (Sunday 22 February 2009) Mia Ridge sent a tweet saying:

You are not you, you are a brand. ‘no one enjoys someone who posts spontaneously’ http://bit.ly/qGRdk I don’t get the obsession w followers

Mia was linking to a blog post on Being a Useful Twitter User [and receiving followers in the process] which provided advice (“Be consistent and organized”; “Pace yourself!”;  etc.) aimed at helping you to maximise the number of your followers.

I think Mia was quite right to highlight the dangers of such depersonalisation of Twitter. And as the individual and quirk, aspect of Twitter has played a role in its success following a set of guidelines which aim to provide a sterile environment could well lead to a killing of the golden goose.

Which isn’t to say that one shouldn’t ‘pimp up’ one’s blog posts, however. Mia herself tweeted a few hours after her previous post that she “blogged my dev8D talk (http://bit.ly/d9z5y) on happy museums, developers and punters (right URL this time), open to suggestions, comments“.

But rather than Twitter users using the service to post factual information about themselves, their work and their organisation I’d suggest that the emphasis should be on those aspects that you care about and, as Martin Weller suggested recently, the things you love: your iPhone, your musical taste, your football team and the like.

And as Mike Ellis recently suggested that Twitter “needs an edge, a voice, a riskiness” I think I’ll announce this post with the tweet “Pimping up my blog post on the attractions & dangers of pimping up blog posts: http://is.gd/kt2t“.