Capacity development, learning, change, poverty/power/progress
Last Friday we were out with a group of work-friends to celebrate two weeks of excellent teamwork. Monica, the communications officer, and I had send a tweet into the world to summarize the main insights gained, or rather confirmed in the context of Nepal, and linked it to my earlier blog on the issue
Tweet: Capacity Development is more than training. #LCDF @SNVworld Good capacity development professionals are scarce. Read more http://bitly.com/tJcLtq
The friends were mostly 40+ like myself. Monica and I were talking about a short audio-video piece a would do. She commented how impressed she was with my versatility with social media (thanks to the Dutch course I'm followign on the subject!). As usual a conversation followed about "the waste of time" twitter seems to be to those who are unfamiliar with it.
What follows is an impression of some of the conversations I have recently had in Nepal about twitter with "older youngsters".
Liesbeth: I'm really not interested in the whereabouts of everyone on this planet. What people have for breakfast, and how their stomach is holding up in Nepal.
Lucia: Well, there are two types of tweet personalities. The ME- formers, who let others know what they are doing, and the IN- formers, who share questions and resources that help them professionally. I am mostly informing others on twitter about my professional, inspirational discoveries. I do not use Twitter but Skype to let my contacts know where I am in the world, so that we can catch up during my travels. So I agree, I don't really see the need to let my twitter followers know where I am in the world, and I'm not interested in what theyhave for breakfast either.
Liesbeth: Actually, when I went to South-Africa I noted it on my Skype status. An old friend from Indonesia saw it, and we managed to see each other there after a long time. So it can be useful to let others know what you are doing.
Rem: I just don't have the time for things like twitter.
Lucia: I look at what twitter brings me, and it is certainly worth the time I spend on it. Twitter has become my personalized professional newspaper. When I still had a contract with SNV, I was constantly fed with professional information through the intranet, but that stopped when my contract ended. These days, I go to twitter a few times a week, and find inspirational articles, great resource sites, and likeminded professionals. I have just started posting tweets in April, but twitter has fast become the place were I learn all the time. And come to think of it, I learn more than I used to from the SNV intranet, and I was a top user of the services it provided! I make time for twitter because I learn a lot, and much faster than I did before.
Anuj: I have a Twitter account, but I just have 3 contacts there. I follow them, and they follow me back. I'm not an active user. How can I get more out of it?
Lucia: It took me a bit of time to understand what twitter could do for me. I actually had no clue when I started that it would become such an important source of learning and reflection. Like you, I followed a few friends who were already on twitter. Then I started googling for resources about how to use twitter. One tip that I found useful when I started was to start following organisations you know who tweet, so I started following, UNDP, SNV, and CARE, about 10 or so. These organisations all retweet a lot of resources that are shared by other tweeters. Such a retweet, or RT as it is known on twitter, shows the original sender, so when I liked what that person had to offer, I started to follow them too.
After some time I noticed that certain people really did not have that much of interest to share, so I stopped following them. They just become 'noise' that I never look at. I also discovered that some organisations have specialised twitter accounts. So rather than following @care, which shares tweets for the public, I now follow @careclimate, which is more for professionals. I also noticed that when I start following people, or organisations, they start followibng me back. I do not just get their tweets, but also the stuff they retweet from the people they follow. That's how I have slowly build up a list of people and organisations that I follow.
Antoinette: Right, but what if I don't want to be followed? I was on twitter for a while, but all sorts of people I had never heard of began to follow me. It scared me. What are their intensions?
Lucia: Good question. Sometimes I'm too positive and a bit naive, so I do not tend to think about the negative side of things. What I observe is the very high level of transparency on twitter. You build up a twitter personality, and become known for having something valueable to offer. Strangers have started following me because they like my links to capacity development resources, or my blog.
Now let's say somebody says something bad about you, Antoinette. It's really only the people who follow that person's tweets who will know about it. Others may also find that 'bad' tweet if they look at all the tweets that contain @antoinette, but that 'bad' tweet will then sit among all the good stuff you are sharing, and the compliments you are getting from trustworthy others, so the 'bad' tweeter will look a bit out of place. In fact your followers can respond to the 'bad' tweeter to help keep your record clean. So, as long as you keep your integrity, and check what you retweet before you send somebodies' tweets into the world with your name attached to it, I really can't see any negative consequences.
In fact, a bit of a "cheek in tongue' tweet can get people and organisations to shape up their act. Last week we were testing Bigmarker for the social media course I am following. It is a free webinar hosting space which works really well. Then one user was trying to save the chat information, and couldn't figure out how to do it. So she send a tweet into the world, for all to see:
Tweet: @bigmarker How do we save the chat window for minutes making?
I bet you that Bigmarker will have that option on the webinar site in no time! So I can see that twitter actually helps to keep everyone honest and delivering on their promises.
Tej: I also have a twitter account, but I always forget all those passwords you seem to need for everything these days.
Lucia: You are not the only one! I use Last Pass, which is a free password reminder. I got the link through a reliable blogger via my social media course. It's a bussiness, and they also have more advanced paid options, so I'm sure that security is their top priority! Now I only have to remember one pass word. Very convenient!
Help me to discover more about twitter by letting me know your excuses for not using it. I'm also happy to give more tips about using it.
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