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Note taking on Twitter

March 22, 2011

I read — a lot — of articles, blog posts, and the like from my RSS reader and via links shared on Twitter.

Not only do I share via Twitter some of the things I read (you’ve told me you learn from items shared), but my Tweets have become my notebook of what I’ve read and the impressions left on me.

I go back to my Twitter feed for inspiration on what to blog about. There’s always two or three tweets a day that serve as the impetus for a good blog post. Plus I receive, via Twitter, the benefit of people’s feedback to my Tweets or what others are saying on topics before blogging.

If you follow live sporting events on Twitter you’ll notice that sports reporters at the event are live Tweeting plays and observations. Not incessant Tweets of every play, but items of note that they find of interest to themselves or that they think will be of interest to fans.

What became clear to me is that the sports reporters were not only creating a dialogue with fans so as to create a community feel, but the sports reporters were creating notes via Twitter that they’ll go back to when writing their stories.

By tweeting notes the reporters also had the benefit of the fans’ impressions and trending online dialogue. Why write a story that lags where the national or regional discussion is already headed?

Best selling author and speaker, Seth Godin, and Fred Wilson, a well known venture capitalist and blogger, picked up on note taking via Twitter when a Harvard professor asked his students to tweet out their class notes of Wilson’s talk at Harvard.

Godin was not a fan of the concept:

I confess to being fascinated, mystified and horrified by people who tweet notes in real time. I mean, here is one of the giants of his industry, and the best the students can do with their attention is tweet short sentences, out of context, to an unknown audience of busy people who are reading hundreds of other out of context abbreviated notes at the same time? Waste a wasted opportunity.

Wilson saw the upside of note taking on Twitter.

I understand Seth’s horror. But I don’t share it. I believe note taking is an important way to remember the important points made in class. The act of writing something down makes it easier to recall. And if you share those notes out on a twitter feed, then you are saving them publicly, like bookmarks in delicious, with others who might want to consume them.

Social booking marking site, delicious, was where I historically stored notes of what I read. But ‘marking’ items in delicious takes longer than posting notes on Twitter. Most of the time I didn’t save items in delicious.

Twitter’s easy for note taking and saving items. You’re already sharing items via Twitter, now use your Tweets as notes to review later. Or you’re already making notes, now display them on Twitter for the benefit of others and for feedback.

We all know the folks who prove they can key a mile a minute by Tweeting play by play from conferences. You don’t want to get a reputation as one of them. Be selective in your Twitter notes. Not everything someone says or everything that you read is noteworthy.

Maybe you’re new to Twitter and not ready to Tweet notes. Maybe you’re concerned about what others see you paying attention to. I don’t know.

For me note taking notes on Twitter has been a win all around. I’ve stored what I want to remember. I learn from others’ feedback on Twitter. And the trust I’ve built with Twitter followers by sharing what I’m seeing is resulting in relationships that lead to business.

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