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Andy Leonard

Andy Leonard is an author and engineer who enjoys building and automating data integration solutions. Andy is co-host of the Data Driven podcast. Andy is no longer updating this blog. His current blog is

On Developer Communities: Twitter


Do you use Twitter?

I do - a lot. I like it. It fits my style of living transparently and online - and living transparently online.


My style is not your style. You have your own style (I know, I've observed many of you). I think your style works just fine for you. Mine certainly works well for me.

Have I complained to you about your style? If I did, I probably said something like "I have a problem with the way you did this or that." Only the first four words of that sentence mean anything. Really. Trust me. I know me and this is the truth.

Welcome to the Buffet!

I've been influenced in my life and career. It's happening even now - daily almost. I'm working for a superb manager. Working for him is like going to Manager School every day. He's so good at it, he makes management fun and (gasp) appealing.

He accomplished this by enjoying his job. I know this sounds crazy, but that's how it happened.

It's like life is a giant buffet and he piled a bunch of management on his plate, took a bite, and said "This tastes great!" It made me want to try some.

The buffet model seems to influence me more than anything else. I see something someone else is enjoying and decide to check it out. Sometimes I like it, sometimes I don't.

If I don't like it, I condemn all buffets everywhere! I'm kidding.

If I don't like it, I condemn this dish as useless and bad for everyone! I'm kidding again.

If I don't like it, I say something (crazy) like "I don't like this" or "I couldn't get this to work for me, at least not right now."

Does Twitter Work For Everyone?

No. I respect a bunch of people who just don't like Twitter. So far as I can tell, it's not their cup of tea. It doesn't fit their style. We covered style already.

That doesn't make them bad people. Or Wrong. Or even wrong about Twitter.

Does Twitter Work For Me?

You bet your boots!

I follow technology people (of course). I follow Star Trek: The Next Generation actors. I follow people who agree with my politics. I follow people who disagree with my politics. I follow people who share my faith. I follow my bank. I follow Nascar people and someone named BassMaster. I follow companies that tweet specials. I follow myself (I have a couple Twitter identities).

I follow thinkers and gamers and bloggers and authors and geeks. I follow my kids and my wife.

I find Twitter is a neat middle-ground between blogging and instant messaging. I describe Twitter as a "quasi-connected" message bus. That has implications and actually started me thinking about this presentation Jessica Moss and I delivered at the PASS Summit 2008.

One Example

A few weeks ago I renewed my search for an obscure BBC Radio recording. I have tried to find this recording at least a dozen times in the past, after hearing bits and pieces of it on Richmond public radio a decade ago. Within minutes, the collective that follows me - my tribe - provided three responses with links to three different sites containing information about purchasing the CDs.


Exactly. Either that's something that I tried on the buffet that appeals to you, or it isn't. If you're looking for something obscure, does that mean Twiitter is for you?

It depends.

It's really about more than that. It's about networking. You can't join Twitter tomorrow and get three answers to your obscure question. First you have to build a network. (I find it ironic that some of the people I admire for their blogs about the career value of networking do not like Twitter. But that's their style...)

Twitter Doesn't Work For Everybody

And it never will. Truth be told, nothing works perfectly for everyone. There's stuff out there I simply do not understand and have made it thus far in my life and career without having to learn. Does that make that knowledge useless to all? Umm no. Does that qualify me to serve as a judge of the technology? I'd argue just the opposite is true... that's kind of like getting marriage advice from your single friends.

If you want to try Twitter, I suggest taking a Test-Driven approach.

How To Get Hundreds Of Followers And Get Nearly-Instant Answers About Obscure BBC Recordings

First, you need hundreds of followers. (This is a paraphrase of one of Steve Martin's routines: How to be a millionaire and not pay taxes. The first line was "First you need a million dollars.")

A good "Twitter test" involves starting with the right test harness or framework. I recommend TweetDeck. TweetDeck is complex. It takes some getting used to. But part of the complexity is you're also getting used to a different way of communicating. So you will need to give it time. I recommend 90 days. You can filter and group people you follow. Take the time to learn to use the tool with the technology. So that's step 1.

Step 2 is to follow people you find interesting. Brent Ozar and Jason Massie are the SQL Server / database / Twitter guys I keep up with. They point to interesting Twitter / SQL Server links and even maintain them. Here's some great advice. Here's some more cool people to follow.

Step 3 is to participate. Join the conversation. Say something! (Well, type something). No one's going to follow you just becasue you're there. And trust me, you have something to add to the conversation.

I only ask one favor: If you don't like what someone is saying, telling them to stop saying it is bad form. Especially on Twitter. That's the social equivalent of yelling "Shut up!" at them while at a crowded party or convention. That's rude. Simply un-follow them or put them in a small TweetDeck group that you occasionally check.

Does Twitter Work For You?

:{> Andy

Published Tuesday, February 24, 2009 6:00 AM by andyleonard
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AaronBertrand said:

I enjoy using twitter to broadcast announcements or blog posts, and as an avenue for venting about whatever is bugging me at the moment.  Sometimes the signal:noise is a bit high.  I've recently had to un-follow a few colleagues who felt it necessary to welcome every single follower with a public message, use some plug-in that tweets every time iTunes moves to the next song, or incessantly post things nobody cares about (like what they just pulled out of their ear, or how late the garbage truck is this week).  I'm sure I post things you or someone else doesn't care about, but when that becomes a habit, please tell me.

February 24, 2009 9:27 AM

andyleonard said:


  I had the same issues with Twitter when I first started using it. then I started using TweetDeck and learned some cool techniques - list organizing people into Groups. Some groups stay invisible most of the time. Some are visible all of the time. Managing it in this way works for me - it may not for you.

  I can't talk about work / life balance and then begrudge you for having a life.

:{> Andy

February 24, 2009 9:35 AM

Denis Gobo said:

Twitter is nice but Pownce was much nicer, if you posted a link to a flickr pic it would embed it, it would also embed Youtube, imageshack, zoomrr etc etc

Pownce also did threaded responses

unfortunately it doesn't exists anymore

that 140 char limit should be increased and the URL if pasted should not count towards it

February 24, 2009 9:43 AM

AaronBertrand said:

Denis, good point, I also think that if you reply to one or more the leading @ names should not count toward total.  Surely internally that identifier takes less bytes.  Tough to get it to mobile devices as SMS though and still make sense.

February 24, 2009 10:29 AM

Paul Nielsen said:

Twitter IS web 2.0, it is the buzz of the SQL community. Twitter is my primary source of news, announcements, what's happening, who's having a good day, waht problems folks are facing, great links,who's submitting abstracts where, who's singing up for whcih conference, great blog posts, and funny stories. If you're not on Twitter, you just don't know what you're missing.

Twitter today is what blogging was 3-5 years ago.

February 24, 2009 12:17 PM

Chuck Boyce said:

Twitter takes some getting used to.  There is a really good article I'd recommend to see twitter's long-term potential:

Although I couldn't use twitter the way I want without TweetDeck, you may want to start of with twhirl. twhirl is easier to use and adequate until you start to follow more than 25 people.

Like any network, the value of twitter increases at the twitter network grows. You will therefore make twitter stream better when you join.


February 24, 2009 4:14 PM

Alexander Kuznetsov said:

Looks like I'm sold on the idea. Where do I sign up ;)

February 24, 2009 5:17 PM

davepen said:

I fear Twitter is becoming the MySpace of it's kind.

If all you have to say is going to be via Twitter, I'm out.



March 2, 2009 8:12 PM

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