Mark Kelley, the News Director for Saddleback Church-Purpose Driven Network, has been advocating a Christian Bloggers Network via an email list obtained from doing a survey put out by Pastors.com and Church Communications Pro. I am intrigued by such a network but hope that it becomes more than just a marketing vehicle and self-promotion outlet. If that happens I’ll bail out before you can say “snap”!
As I’ve given thought to some of the legitimate questions Mark has asked regarding the formation of this network and how it can be useful, my mind has hit on twitter. No, that’s not an adjective describing my state of thought! Twittering is a new phenomenon that has hit the web in the last three months – another offering in the Web 2.0 flavor of the year crowd.
What is Twitter?
Twitter is basically a website that has provided users a way of simply and quickly answering the question, “What is _____ up to now?”. Think it of mini-blogging on steroids. In of itself it isn’t really much – but combined with the Twitter API, the ability to “tweet” from multiple platforms (IM, your phone via text, web, and even your WordPress blog ), and it’s ease of use, the potential for this tool in useful “networking” is limitless.
How useful could it be?
A quick list – I’m not going to go into details about exactly how each item on this list can be implemented (maybe I’ll delve further into that in future articles) but suffice it to say that this list is based on what I see as doable. (NOTE: For some of these points I’m assuming that at least a preliminary overview of the Twitter.com site has been undertaken by the reader)
- A way of keeping track of what people are up to on the network and actually developing more meaningful relationships beyond the semi-social nature of a blog.
- Got a quick insight from scripture – need a quick answer to a question – want to announce a helpful blog post, or a useful web find? Rather than posting to a forum, or network site – twitter it and via the instant transmission over web, im, and text, the potential for a quicker reply multiplies exponentially.
- You can add all the folks in the network as people you follow (or friends) all at once and if someone tweets stuff that becomes annoying you can then remove them. Thus keeping only the relevant tweets. However, just because you remove someone from the list of people you follow or are friends with doesn’t mean that they can’t follow you if they so choose.
- For those who are friends with twitter (two users following each other) – private twitters between each other are possible. Quick conversations can be executed via this method.
- Twitter would be a great way to get a quick announcement over the network – sure we could use email and that will still be valid in some cases – but twitter allows for those kind of last minute announcements that you want to get out right away.
Those are just a few observations I had in mind when twitter popped in my thoughts about the Christian Bloggers Network. However there are also some areas where I think Twitter could improve to make it even more useful for this activity:
- If you could assign users to “groups” and color different groups in your tweets that would be ideal. (either color or symbol or some way of differentiating groups)
- Along with the groups idea: If you could selectively turn on and off Private Twittering to whole groups of people rather than just individual users that would enable even greater communication. In other words, there may be tweets that we don’t want the whole twitter community to see BUT we do want the whole Christian Bloggers Network to see.
- Have individual group twitter pages that archive our twitters.
- Implement some sort of Twitter/AJAX/AutoMagic goodness that creates ical links or something of that sort for enabling posting of event info etc. into online calendars and/or desktop/phone/pda apps. You could choose what the default target of such links would be via your individual twitter settings.
To conclude, I really think Twitter could turn out to be one of the best networking web services out there and if the Christian Blogging Network ever does become a reality I truly hope the bloggers/leaders start twittering!
By the way, my twitter username is “nerrad” if you want to know