Reflecting on 5,000 Tweets

I have recently published my 5,000th tweet.  My first tweet was posted on 14 March 2006, 9 months after Twitter was launched, and simply said that I was “Filling in my expenses forms, after trip to JISC Conference at Birmingham.”  Like most people’s initial experience of Twitter I had no clear idea of what Twitter was about or what benefits I could possible gain from it. But now, 5,000 tweets on, I have an opportunity to reflect on the benefits which Twitter has provided. Some evidence about my use of Twitter is available using the Tweetstats service, which was used to create the following Wordle which is based on the contents of my tweets. But rather than reviewing the statistics I want to provide an anecdotal summary of my Twitter usage.

Twitter Wordle for tweets posted by BrianKelly

Strengthened Professional Links

I have recently described how A Tweet Takes Me To Catalonia. In brief I discovered that a chemistry professor at the University of Girona has similar interests to mine in the potential of Web 2.0 to enhance various institutional activities e-and this led to an invitation to give a seminar  over there.

Better Peer-Reviewed Papers

There have been two examples of how Twitter enhanced the quality of my peer-reviewed papers. Earlier this year a paper on “Developing countries; developing experiences: approaches to accessibility for the Real World” won an award for the best communications paper at the W4A 2010 conference.  The paper included new insights into work on holistic approaches to Web accessibility which were provided by Sarah Lewthwaite and, as I’ve described previously, “It Started With A Tweet“.

I’ve not yet met Sarah face-to-face but I did meet two co-authors of a paper on “From Web Accessibility to Web Adaptability” following tweets I received after giving a talk at the OzeiWAI 2009 conference. As I have described previously:

“the talk seemed to go down well – and I was particularly pleased that when I sat down after my talk and refreshed the Twitterfon application on my iPod Touch it provided me with instant feedback on the talk from two of the participants at the conference. @RuthEllison told me that she “@briankelly enjoyed your presentation this morning about a holistic approach to accessibility #ozewai” and @scenariogirl also showed some Australian warmth:  “@briankelly Fantastic talk this morning, I will come up and say hi at lunch 😉“.”

I did have lunch with Ruth Ellison and Lisa Herrod (scenariogirl) and discussed our interests in Web accessibility – which led to Ruth and Lisa providing case studies which were included in the paper.

On-the-fly Professional Development

There have been a number of occasions when I’ve arrived at work and discovered my Twitter community using an event hashtag to discuss talks being presented at a conference.  There have been several times when the Twitter discussion is informed by access to live video-streaming of the talks.  So I can say that Twitter has supported by professional development by alerting me to events and allowing me to contribute to the discussions rather than simply passively consuming the content.

Engaging In Discussions

Over a year ago I described use of Twitter For JISC Bid Writers And Web Developers In this example Grainne Conole asked “just about to do presentation at OU on how t get JISC dosh – any tweet suggestions to throw into the pot??? use #JISCBIDS” valuating bids.  Grainne received advice and I concluded with the remarks “What a wonderful example of how people involved in writing JISC proposals, those who have been involved in bid-writing previously, potential  markers and JISC programme managers themselves are willing to share their thoughts and suggestions. And, of course, such sharing is good for everyone – better submissions should be prepared which makes it easier for the markers and JISC and the wider community should benefit from the project deliverables“.

A few weeks later Twitter discussions centred about the evaluations of bids. In “What Are the #jiscbid Evaluators Thinking?” in which I summarised an “insight into the evaluators though processes by looking at the Twitter stream for tweets tagged with “jiscbids”.

So over the past couple of years I haven’t just ben involved in discussions about the #WorldCup or the #GeneralElection – much of the discussions have been about work activities.

Sharing One’s Work

Twitter provides an opportunity to sharing my wok with others and, unlike RSS, ensures that there is both a feedback mechanism and a simple means by which they can share such information across their own community. Twitter might be described as a viral form of RSS for sharing summaries of one’s work.

Promoting the Work of Others

On Friday 25 June, shortly before an interview on Radio 4, I tweetedTo museum people: I’m being interviewed about future of museums in digital age for Radio 4. Examples of good stuff needed #MakingHistoryLeeds – Radio 4 Making History programme“.  Terry McAndrew responded a few minutes later with the information that “biosci OER pilot project shows some UCL Grant museum to enable it to be accessed across HE #MakingHistory“.  I used this information in the interview and was pleased to be able to inform Terry that@terrymc Your VERB (Virtual Education Resource for the Biosciences) OER project is linked to from Radio 4 Web site“.


What do statistics about my tweets have to say?  The Tweetstats service tells me that “Your top five hashtags: #iwmw10, #online09, #mw2009, #linkeddata, #a11y.” Hmm, it seems that I make use of Twitter a fair amount to support the amplification of events. This service also provides a display of the numbers of tweets posted which is illustrated below.

Histogram of number of tweets posted.


Back in 2008 one Twitter sceptic invited us toImagine a world in which Twitter did not exist (give it a couple of years…) would you really invent a constantly-updated trivia machine as the best way of communicating with [your] audiences?”  A “constantly-updated trivia machine“? perhaps if you wish to use it like that – I don’t and I’m looking forward to the benefits provided by the next 5,00 tweets 🙂