A Few Words About Our Twitter Updates

Some of our TAKA viewers have been asking about our Twitter updates that have been showing up here on TAKA recently, particularly in the context of the recent trip to Australia. Questions arise, such as, “Why is there overlap sometimes between the Twitter updates and the rest of TAKA?” “Why do the Twitter updates seem to be out of order sometimes?” “What does this link in the tweet mean, and what is all this stuff on the page it takes me to?”

We have only recently made our foray into the world of Twitter as a way of keeping everyone in touch more with what is happening at the monastery. We are still figuring out how best to utilize it, and we are experimenting with it a lot because we see the potential both to allow us to share more with you and to do it more efficiently.

You will notice photos in some of the Twitter updates. We were excited to discover that there was a technology that allows us to snap a photo on an iPhone, write a short caption and post it to Twitter (and thus TAKA) in a matter of seconds. While it is not as complete as a traditional TAKA story, it is a very efficient, very easy and very immediate way for us to share something that is going on. Imagine what it was like when we were running from one thing to the next, from early morning to late at night, during the Melbourne Parliament of the World’s Religions. Without Twitter, we would have been able to share little if anything until we returned to Kauai. A quick photo and a few words here and there were our way to bring you into the action as it was happening each day, rather than waiting until days or weeks later when we are able to spend the time necessary to thoughtfully choose photos and write the full story of what happened Down Under (which we still plan to do).

We have no control right now over the size of the photos that are embedded in the Twitter updates. They do seem to be dominating, not blending in to our usual look and feel. We plan to do something about that soon. We are well aware that the blend of traditional TAKA stories and the new Twitter updates can give what appears to be a rather disjointed story of what went on on a given day. We are looking at some alternative ways to incorporate our Twitter updates into TAKA so these two ways of storytelling will be more distinct from each other. Stay tuned for some changes in this area.

Yes, Twitter is mostly used as a way of sharing what is happening at a given moment, and so it is a chronology of sorts. We have, however, found it occasionally useful to post tweets about things that happened in the past. When we do that, we will do our best to say so in order to eliminate the confusion between what is happening right now and what happened in the past. This is especially important for those of you who use Twitter and have added us to your list of accounts that you follow, seeing throughout the day what is happening as it is happening rather than waiting to see the aggregated tweets each day when they are all posted here on TAKA.

A few technical notes about tweet content:

A linked word preceded by a “#” is known as a hashtag. This is a Twitter phenomenon that facilitates searching for Twitter updates from the whole world on a particular subject. The hashtag #pwr2009 was used by everyone who was attending and tweeting about the Parliament in Melbourne. If you search for this term on Twitter Search (which is what happens when you clicking on the #pwr2009 link in any of our tweets), you will see all the recent tweets from everyone relating to the Parliament in one place.

There are sometimes other links within tweets. The most common you will see contains the domain “bit.ly,” a popular URL shortening service. Because tweets can only be 140 characters long, embedded links must be short. We will often include a link to a web page that is related to the tweet, and often the tweet itself is meant solely to send you to the such a link for more information. We may also retweet other people’s tweets if we want our Twitter followers to see them. This is indicated by “RT @username” at the beginning of a tweet. (Other people may use other URL shortening services.) The bottom line is: if you see a URL in a tweet, click on it! Hopefully you will be interested by whatever it takes you to.

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