Twitter, Listening and Activism

Ari Herzog has been hoping that I would enter the world of Twitter. So far I have not succumbed, despite Ari’s very persuasive reasoning. (I can see myself, should I surrender, becoming a complete Twitter addict.)

However, Twitter has become a valuable resource in trying to get a handle on folks who email me about the Newburyport Blog, who I do not know, and who I cannot find anyone I know who knows (following that one?).

Before, to try a figure out who folks were and where they might be coming from, I would have Salem Deeds on Line, Newburyport Vision Appraisal and Google. All gave me some idea, often limited.

Now I have Twitter, where mundane thoughts, everyday occurrences, personal interchanges, all of which before were previously kept private, now give me a more fleshed out glimpse into whoever I may wonder about (that is, providing they Twitter).

And all of this is very helpful. I feel a little bit as if I am intruding in their private lives, as if sitting in a public place and listening in on a private conversation over at the next table. Sometimes it even seems as if I am privy to gossip (something I am not particularly found of), if you will. But there it is, all out in public, for anyone to read and hear. A very large tool for this blogger to understand how a person may think and interact with the world.

Why would this be important? Because, as the editor of the Newburyport Blog, I am fascinated by how on a civic and political level, one gets things constructively accomplished. When in a more activist mode, I found that listening and getting people to talk, and taking what they had to say seriously, no matter how mundane it might seem to some, was one of the most effective ways to figure out positive civic and political outcomes.

It was often the more mundane, throw away “stuff” that was the most helpful. And here I have conversations to listen to on Twitter. Who knew I would find this social networking vehicle so helpful in this particular way.