Early Web Sites were Static and Content was Carefully Managed. But, somewhere in the early 2000s, events conspired and technology enabled all heck to break loose. True broadband communications became accessible to everyone, and blogging established a more participatory Web model. Close on the heels of this were the various components of what has today become collectively known as social media, which is arguably one of the most chaotic components of what we know and love as the World Wide Web.

I AM A TWIT

In April, I decided to try Twitter to see if it was possible to provide another dimension of value and relevance to the T&D World audience. Okay, and have a little fun in the process.

Among the immediate challenges was coming up with a Twitter name. I was amazed at the variations of Vito I found, including @VitoTheGuideDog!, @GodFather and @DonVito. When I first joined the T&D World staff, Doug Fix called me Uncle Vito. Years later, that seemed like a good handle. Since @UncleVito already belongs to a radio personality in upstate New York, I am @Uncle_Vito.

ALL THE WORLD'S A TWEET

Tweeting is so undefined that just about anything fits. It seemed like using Twitter to promote the editorial content of T&D World would be a natural. But, how dry is the title of a feature article? So, with a little creativity — goodness knows from where these “inspirations” come — I got haiku tweets:

Okay, it may be a sloppy haiku, but you get the idea. I also notice the MOST READ box on www.tdworld.com. And, a side feature of Twitter pages is trending topics — words that most frequently show up in tweets. Mash those two things together in a technology editor's mind, and it makes perfect sense to tweet about www.tdworld.com content that is MOST READ.

That weird URL is a compression of the long URL to the article. An invention required to meet the 140-character maximum tweet length. I'm figuring that if it was interesting to me, then there is likely some twitterati out there who'll find it interesting. People will read 140 characters about most anything. And, if they want more, there is always the link.

RT is a re-tweet. This tweet from @MEAenergy went to all of their followers, of which I am one. Then I blasted it out to my followers. There is a viral component to social media. It also seemed like a good idea to tweet about the various industry events that we attend.

Regular news items or press releases that come across my desk get tweeted, too. Sometimes I'll come up with my version of a pithy observations to squirt out.

This is getting perilously close to having fun, but it's also making my job easier. What has surprised me is how useful the connections with my followers and the folks I follow have become during this relatively short time. Swapping tweets in a “conversation” with another twit has been quite useful on multiple occasions and helpful in securing article leads. Realizing that this is not a one-way thing is seminal. Further, the ability to get connected to people I'd never otherwise come upon has been very useful.

The person who springs to mind is Trish Freshwater, a public affairs coordinator at SCANA Corp. She covers a broad range of topics in her tweets. She is observant about the use of social media in ways I'd likely never imagine. She says: “The interesting thing is that our entire department is on Facebook, and social media has become an extension of our office from water-cooler chatter to helping each other on assignments. It's fascinating to be part of this time of emerging media and watching the paths we're wandering down.”

If you are on Twitter, give @Uncle_Vito a try. If you are not, get with the program.