Friday, March 1, 2013

It's my twitter birthday

4 years ago today I joined twitter. It was in the aftermath of the Black Saturday bush fires and I had heard vague references to twitter about how it was helping to spread information during the danger period and helping to re-connect people in the confusion that followed. I was intrigued but didn't really have a concept of what it was.

The Black Saturday disaster played out on 24/7 news coverage and through Facebook  Everyone was talking about it and being shocked daily by what had happened and the personal stories that were emerging. I felt very fortunate to not know anyone personally affected but 6 degrees of separation meant that I was aware of friends of friends. I was a fair way away from the fire zones and actually felt quite helpless. There was this huge feeling of wanting to help but not knowing what to do. Our family made donations to the different charity causes that were set up to help and donated clothing to collection centres, that were soon overwhelmed with donations.

My expertise and passion was in photos. I love photos, always have and suspect I always will. For more than 10 years I was a Creative Memories consultant, passionate about preserving memories in safe albums for current and future generations to enjoy. If a fire had come through my house I would save my family and my dog and the very next thing on my list would be photos. So, in those days following the fires, and numb from knowing there was a shocking loss of life and property I began to think of ways to help the people who had lost everything to have photos. Creative Memories generously donated financially to the Salvo's and also committed to donating thousands of albums to the survivors so they could begin to recreate photographic memories when the time came.

I cant remember exactly how it came about but I became aware of a couple of women in Whittlesea who were also focused on finding photos. They were advertising for people to look through their photos for images of the people and places affected by the fires. It was such a great concept and I pledged to help them. I ended up re-creating a wedding album for a couple using photos that had belonged to guests at their wedding and other family members. It wasn't the same as their original wedding album but it was something.

As a way of spreading the word about the idea I joined twitter and started promoting it endlessly. I remember one person on twitter telling me months later that she had thought I was from Marysville since my tweets mentioned that town so often. Eventually my focus on twitter changed but the women involved from Whittlesea helped reconnect people to photos for many months after the disaster.

For some reason I decided to favourite my first it is:

I still remember my first couple of tweets with a friend in Sweden trying to work out what the news feed was and where tweets actually appeared. Following one person made it kind of hard to 'get it' and then I started to follow others and it became clear. I've always tried to keep my following count less than double my followed count. So, if I had 50 followers I could only follow 100. These days, remarkably I am followed by 976. and I follow 1619. I bet only about 100 of those who follow me are active twitter users. People come and go...some hang around. I love twitter more when there are interactions. I love twitter when real life events are unfolding.  I love that high profile people are accessible. I love that some tweeps are like friends.

Some events I particularly recall include the 24 hours around when Julia Gillard became Prime Minister... the first whispers on twitter that something was up through to her 'moving forward' speech as PM. My foray into tweeting about politics was gradual...I was pretty subtle to begin with but now I call things as I see them. I also remember the floods in Queensland in 2011, the way support was mobilized was incredible. I don't watch heaps of tv but when I do I often will be following along on twitter. QandA is a regular. I love the little buzz when a screen tweet appears, which for me is infrequently. My husband, who doesn't tweet, will read out screen tweets and always notices when The Aviator (as he calls him) appears. When I tell him I have had a twitter convo with Stephen, 'The Aviator' I think it spins him out a bit...and confirms that the screen tweets are from real people, not just someone in the back office of the ABC. I remember being chuffed to receive two tweet replies from Prime Minister Julia Gillard. I used to love interacting with Chrissie Swan on twitter. We listen to her on the radio and I'd send a tweet commenting on something said that morning. I'm sad she's no longer on twitter.  I followed along as a fellow tweep met and fell in love and then celebrated her pregnancy and eventually the birth of her daughter on twitter. It's been lovely. We still haven't met in person but I feel like we have this lovely cyber friendship.

I have an eclectic group of people who I follow...footy people, bloggers, political people, celebs, journos, locals... I sometimes cant even remember why I started following some people but something obviously piqued my interest and made me add them. I've learnt heaps too - people tweet links to things I would never have found.

I'm sure I'll blog about Twitter again...this will probably do as a celebration of my 4th birthday.

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