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Filtering by Tag: Twitter

What Twitter "Needs"

Thomas Whitley

I received a new follower over on Twitter (follow me here) just now and went to the person’s profile to glean from the general information on his twitter page. While I was there I had two thoughts; one I’ve had before, one I haven’t. There are two things that I “need” to make Twitter more useful for me.

Thought 1: I need some way to tell how that person found me. Was it a direct link (maybe found on my website or Facebook profile, for example)? Was it through a follower or followee of mine’s Followers/Following list? Was it through a search term? There are many ways to gain new followers and it occurs to me that I don’t know what attracts most of my followers. Now for those of you who are trying to build your following, I see that this could be especially helpful. Brands/people (which are almost the same thing these days, especially in social media) could know which keywords are most successful for them. Regular Twitter users like me (I say I’m pretty regular because I only have 125 followers and follow just a few more than that) could also (potentially) have some idea why certain people began following them and thus could begin or jump in to the conversation much more easily. I know that SocialToo attempts to help in this department, but my experience has been that it is not very helpful and it certainly does not have the capabilities that this post is asking for.

Thought 2: I need a way to who followers of mine are also following that I am following or who they are being followed by that I am also following or am being followed by. It seems to me that a feature of this nature would help to build communities all around Twitter and would only strengthen conversations and connections. I realize that this isn’t as easy as Facebook’s “Mutual Friends,” but seriously how hard can it be, especially with Twitter’s (relatively) open API.

These are very initial thoughts, obviously. Is there a tool out there that accomplishes what I am looking for that I have missed? If so, please direct me to it. If not, is this doable? Is anyone already working on this?

Would this be a helpful “tool” for anyone else?

How I Do What I Do

Thomas Whitley

I really enjoy reading about what others use to do what they do. Sam Harrelson has a great post on what he uses to do what he does here. So, for some while I have wanted to post about how I get things done on a day to day basis, from hardware perspective and a software perspective.

Most of my computing is done from one computer, my laptop is a Dell Inspiron 640m. I used to use a laptop and a desktop, having the desktop for backup purposes and as a home “hub” of sorts, but that is no longer necessary. On my laptop I run Windows Vista (which I’m quite happy with) and just recently upgraded from 1GB of RAM to 2GB of RAM as well as from 120GB harddrive to a 320GB harddrive. I don’t use any other hardware with my computer, except an external harddrive. Mice, speakers, etc. just seem to get in the way and computing for me is all about being as portable as possible.

My printer is a Dell V305W. It isn’t fancy by any means, but it is All-In-One and it is wireless, which means I can print wirelessly from anywhere in my house without having to have a “base computer” to which the printer is hooked up. The added convenience and ability to have one less computer makes this a great tool for me.

Though I no longer use more than one computer, I use my 2nd generation 32GB iPod Touch with great regularity. The fact that it has wi-fi capabilities means that I can use it at home, at school (where I spend 3 days a week), and at the office. I check my e-mail on there, twitter from it, read feeds, check the weather, etc. Oh yeah, I also listen to a lot of music, and since I went with the 32GB I can actually fit it all on there.

The software side of my computing is somewhat traditional in that I use Microsoft Office 2007 for everyday text, presentations, spreadsheets, etc. That is where the traditional nature of my computing experience stops, though.

The browser that I use exclusively is Google’s Chrome. The minimalist interface, along with it’s uber-impressive speed make it my favorite browser of all time. However, for those who know a bit more about browsers, tabbed browsing especially, in Chrome, each tab runs separate from the other tabs, so if one tab crashes, the whole browser doesn’t crash. Internet Explore, FireFox, Safari, etc. have still not caught on to how genius this is.

I use Evernote to remember. Evernote syncs across multiple platforms (for me web, desktop app, iPod Touch app) and easily lets me create quick text notes as reminders, lists, etc. or to take screen shots, etc. Further, Evernote is fully searchable (even searches text within images) so you don’t have to remember which note you put the web address for that couch you’ve been looking at.

I am a student working on my Master of Divinity and Master of Arts in Religion, so the Bible is important to my work. For all of my Bible needs I use BibleWorks. It is extremely powerful with great search, an insane amount of translations (multiple languages as well), and great exegetical tools. It’s not as user-friendly as some other Bible software out there, but I do think it’s the most powerful. One word of caution, though, if you don’t really understand what a verb in the aorist tense means, this isn’t for you.

My picture manager and editor is Picasa. It isn’t the best picture editor in the world, but it is free and it is by Google, which means it’s super easy to upload to the web, to a blog, etc. and to access from anywhere.

I’ve been doing some podcasting lately (check out and use Skype to call Sam Harrelson while he records either through Skype or using Audacity.

I use DropBox and Live Mesh to sync files across the web and computers. Having access to all of my files no matter where I am is becoming increasingly important in my life.

For Twitter I use TweetDeck. It is the best application/client for Twitter I have seen yet. I would certainly not use Twitter like I do without it.

To keep everything organized I have a mac-style dock, ObjectDock. I also use Taskbar Shuffle to keep my windows in the order I like them in my taskbar, because I never open them in the order I want them, rather in the order I need them.

I use Google products for just about everything else. I use GMail for email. All of my e-mail addresses flow in and out of my main gmail account. This way i have everything in one place and am able to respond much quicker and be much more productive. I use Google Calendar as my calendar. It syncs with the native calendar on my iPod Touch as well as with my Outlook calendar (which I never open anymore, but it is the calendar that syncs with my Windows Mobile phone). Also, my wife and I can view each others’ calendars and have a good idea of what’s going on with the other when we attempt to schedule things.

I use Google Documents A LOT. I take notes for school in there as well as take quick notes. I back up Evernote with Google Docs and vice-versa a lot. Also, I can share documents with others and we can all collaborate and make changes to the document. For example, Sam Harrelson and I have a shared Google document that contains show notes for our podcast Thinking Baptists as well as ideas for future shows. I use Google Reader to keep up with all the news, blogs, etc. that I read on a regular basis. I prefer this over a desktop application for feed reading because with it all being on the web (in the cloud) it is constantly updated and changes are shown in real time.

My blog is a tumblr blog and I use Google Analytics to track stats for the site.

It is a lot, but it is how I get my work/play done on a regular basis. I hope this was somewhat enjoyable/informative for you. I had a blast putting it together.

How do you do what you do?

Why Churches Should Twitter

Thomas Whitley

I am in Fayetteville, NC at the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina’s (CBFNC) General Assembly. One of the break out session that I went to today was “Communicating Faith in an Online World.” On the whole it was pretty good, though it was aimed more at those who were less involved in the tech/online world.

The session leader, Richard Wood, gave out a short list of resources. They are:

- Richard Wood’s website
- Digital Ethnography by Dr. Michael Wesh at Kansas State University
- Rhett Smith’s series on Formulating an Online Strategy for College Ministry (follow link and search for title)
- Your Own Personal Gutenberg by Shawn Coons & Neal Locke
- Blogging as Spiritual Discipline and Pastoral Practice by Bruce Reyes-Chow
- The Case for Facebook and Other Social Networks by Bruce Reyes-Chow

NOTE: The above resources are not endorsed by me. I am simply recreating a list of resources given to me.

The end of the session was my favorite part, though, because we talked about Twitter - what it is, how it works, how it’s helpful, etc. Myself and one other person tried our best to “teach” the others present about Twitter and it’s benefits, especially for churches/ministries.

We came up with a lot of reasons, such as how was it is for others to keep up with what you or your organization is up to, being involved in the real-time conversation and drawing in people that you may not otherwise affect (as most people on Twitter are accustomed to following people/organizations they do not actually know).

I’m curious, though, what you think. Did we miss some benefits of Twitter for churches? I know how much I love Twitter and how large of an impact I believe it can have, but what about those who are skeptical?