A Twitter listening experiment

It's finally happened for me. Or maybe it happened a long time ago and I'm just realizing it now.

Twitter has become a giant time suck for me. I check it without purpose, just to see if anybody's said anything interesting. I write stuff here and there, and, in general, I've been following about a twentieth of the people who are following me.

I just followed something on the order of 100 new-to-me people on Twitter. A handful of them are people I know but for whatever reason hadn't been following. Some of them are complete strangers.

Some of them are just people whose bios sounded interesting. Some of them are people who do things I'm interested in.

From now until the end of March, I'm going to use Twitter only to listen and learn. I'll respond to replies and I'll favorite Tweets here and there that I'd like to refer back to, but I'm going to stop leaving the window open and reading the same Tweets over and over to see if anybody has said anything in the past twelve seconds.

I've been reading a lot of Joshua Fields Millburn (he of The Minimalists) lately, and some things are resonating with me, particularly with respect to relationships and productivity.

So, I'm going to listen and learn and expand my Twitter network and perhaps, from that, my real-life network. I'm going to write long-form a lot more (including here; grab the RSS feed if you want to be informed when I post), and I'm going to spend the time that I'm just staring at Twitter now to do more important things.

If you have some Twitter folk I should be aware of while I'm re-ordering my Twitter life, please @ me or leave a comment here.


[photo credit]

What I’m reading

As part of the important stuff, I'm doing more reading. I'm going to keep a lot of books going for a little while, I think. All four books listed here are books I'm currently reading; not what I've recently read.

Days After the Crash by Joshua Fields Millburn. Millburn says that in the Internet age, while genre fiction certainly enjoys a large readership, literary fiction is in decline. I know I'm reading less of it (though I still do have my favorites). He's written this novella to challenge himself, and he's made it challenging for readers (as in, you actually have to focus and pay attention if you want to understand what's going on). The introduction was worth the time; I'm just getting to the meat.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain. I'm hoping this book gives me a little insight into myself – and not in a Steven Covey sort of way. I'm just through the first chapter, and it's fascinating. In the late 19th century, we were a country that prized character; in the 20th century we became a country that prized charisma. The "extrovert ideal," as Cain labels it (I'm sure she didn't invent the term), says that if we're quiet and reserved and like to think and hang out by ourselves, there's probably something wrong with us. That probably explains the high percentage of people who are on anti-anxiety meds in the U.S.

The Secret History of the World by Mark Booth. It turns out that there are a lot of books with similar titles. Booth has always been fascinated by secret societies (Freemasons, Knights Templar, Rosicrucians, etc.), and he's written a book about some of their beliefs and where we see them in everyday life. Also, he's an editor at a major British publishing house, so he's not some crackpot on the street corner with a pen and a conspiracy theory.

The Great Shark Hunt by Hunter S. Thompson. If I'm going to do more writing, clearly I need to be reading stuff by people whose writing I really enjoy. So, back to Dr. Gonzo I ran.

Also on tap this summer: Darwin, Plato, Guevara, and more.