Mr. Universe has set up a new Twitter account for the 538Refugees blog:
For those already using Twitter, please follow this account. We’ll try to push you a link every time a new article is posted, so you can be the first on your block to come around and engage with us.
Twitter was started as a “microblogging” service. Just like a blog is a record of someone’s life or thoughts, a diary of sorts, Twitter was initially designed to do the same. The only difference was that your “diary entries” were restricted to 140 characters, which at the time was all that a typical cell phone text message would accommodate.
Two things happened: 1) most Twitter users interact with the service via the web interface, and not their cell phone’s SMS feature; 2) instead of a microblog, Twitter became an alternative social networking site.
Let’s take the first two tweets I made from the @538refugees account as an example.
New post on the 538refugees Blog: In This Corner: Jon Huntsman http://bit.ly/icGYcd #2012 #p2 #gop
New post on the 538refugees Blog: The GOP Healthcare Alternate Universe http://bit.ly/hWQtQ7 #ppaca #p2 #healthcare
The first part is just the message being sent. In this case, I’m announcing that a new post has gone up, and listing its title.
The second part is a URL, or web address. Because tweets are limited to 140 characters, it’s almost impossible to fit the full URL (“permalink”) into a tweet. Therefore, I’ve gone to a URL shortening service (in this case, bit.ly), entered the long link
and it returns a shortened version of the same link:
You’ll notice, if you click on either of the above links, they both take you to the same place, namely Michael Weiss’ most recent article.
The rest of the message are so-called “hashtags.” Hashtags (a pound or hash sign — # — followed by a character string) are a way of classifying tweets. For example, anyone wanting to see what’s going on with the PPACA would search on the #ppaca hashtag and see what the latest tweets on the subject are. “#p2” is a hashtag used by progressive groups to indicate left-leaning content. #healthcare is probably self-explanatory. These hashtags are a way of promoting the content of the article to interested parties using Twitter.
If you already have a Twitter account, please follow @538refugees and when we post an article you’re interested in, please RT (“re-tweet,” or pass along) the article to your followers.
If you haven’t yet used Twitter, and want to give it a try, feel free to set up an account, follow @538refugees and me (@agileroxy), and then begin to participate. The most effective way for us to promote this blog using Twitter is to let it grow organically, through pre-existing networks of friends and those with similar interests. For example, whenever I post up an article on science and politics, I let my science and politics friends know through Twitter. That will help to broaden the base of discussants here, which is something I think we all would like to see.