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Using Twitter as a current awareness tool

Twitter (http://www.twitter.com) is a "microblogging" service that allows users to send out short (140-character) messages, called "tweets." Subscribers to these messages are known as "followers" in Twitter.

  • Unlike traditional RSS or e-mail updates, where you are only a consumer of the information sent out, Twitter is a two-way service. Once you establish a free account, you can not only follow other persons or organizations, you can send your own Tweets and have followers as well. A common practice is to forward (or "retweet") a message you have seen to your own followers, which gives it wider circulation.
  • In addition to following the Tweets of persons or organizations, you can also follow "hashtags." A hashtag is a brief label included as part of a Tweet which begins with the "#" sign. When everyone posting on a topic includes the same hashtag in their Tweet, it is possible to follow a discussion among many people without having to follow each individual separately.
  • Tweets can be read online at Twitter's web site. However, just as there are a number of RSS readers, there are now services that make it easier to read Tweets and  manage your feeds. Such  applications include TweetDeck, Twhirl, and Twitterific (for Macs). Tweetlaw (http://tweetlaw.com/) is designed for legal professionals. If you don't want to bother with logging into Twitter or a dedicated Twitter service, it's also possible to subscribe to Tweets as RSS feeds.

The following pages list some Twitter feeds of professional interest:

  • To subscribe:
    • Go to www.twitter.com and click "Sign up."
    • Enter your real name then select a user name.
    • Enter a password (Twitter will test it for its "strength")
    • Enter your e-mail address.
    • Type in the "Captcha" words displayed on the screen, then click "Create my account."
    • You will receive a confirming e-mail message. Click on the link in the message to complete your account setup.
    • To find persons or entities to follow, log in to your Twitter account and click "Find People" at the top of the screen. Use the search box or "Browse Interests" to find feeds, then click the "Follow" button next to the feed you want to follow.
  • To unsubscribe from selected feeds:
    • Click the "XX following" link on your Twitter home page (where XX is the number of feeds you follow).
    • Select the feed to unfollow, then click the Settings button (with the gear icon) and select "Unfollow."
  • To cancel your Twitter account:
    • In the upper right hand corner click "Settings." Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click "Deactivate my account."