My virtual reality and why I tweet!

29 Jan

I have often had discussions about the tools I use online (especially twitter) and experienced a huge level of prejudice. Mostly, these interactions aren’t seen as ‘real’, ‘real’ work, ‘real networking’, ‘real’ learning. It is frustrating and unless someone uses these tools I find explaining why they save time, increase my productivity and help me to do the things I need to do *IMPOSSIBLE*. It’s like trying to explain the colour blue.

Sure, a lot of people do use twitter and blogging to create or share nonsense. In fact, from time to time, I probably add to the pile myself. But, using those examples of why twitter/ facebook/ blogs aren’t useful and are a waste of time is like saying libraries should be closed because some people just go in to use the loos.

I started using twitter to help me when I was on Sussex Police Authority and held lead role for Public Order. I found it invaluable to look at activists perspectives and experiences of police tactics in order to help me ensure that I asked the right questions. Of course, during the riots, twitter and my role came into it’s own. I could keep track of what was happening, I could see the varying methods that forces were using social media to inform and reassure the public. I followed journalists, academics, acpo and front line officers to help me understand the impacts of the riots and, the implications.

From this, my usage of twitter grew to following local affairs in Brighton and Hove. We are quite spoilt with a number of very active social media users to interact with: Many Councillors are online, along with local journalists and community activists. This helped me understand the policy and ‘P’/political debates that were happening giving excellent context for my previous day job in the local voluntary sector and my current role at Public-I.

For me, there is no line between ‘digital’ me and ‘real’ me – most of the people I follow and interact with online are people or, organisations that I really know or work with. To be able to share what I am doing and thinking with them and likewise, see what they are up to is intensely useful. It saves duplication, it makes it easier to collaborate on projects or issues…like we did on the #bhcoatsforkids project this winter, redistributing over 1000 coats to families that needed them. Or, working with others on understanding the implications of the Police and Crime Commissioners elections which enabled me to engage the local voluntary sector in that process and in influencing candidates.

Sharing photos, thoughts, stories and data is in my opinion allowing the recreation of sense of community that urban life doesn’t always allow. Sometimes leading to amazing results like the Riots Clean Up for example. This is REAL. Those who don’t participate are in my opinion becoming digitally impoverished and we need to ensure that this only happens through choice and not through opportunity.

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One Response to “My virtual reality and why I tweet!”

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  1. Digital engagement specialist Emma Daniel, @huxley06, on why she tweets - February 6, 2013

    […] saves duplication, it makes it easier to collaborate on projects or issues…like we did on the#bhcoatsforkids project this winter, redistributing over 1000 coats to families that needed them. Or, working with […]

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