I really should be revising my research paper that is due tonight but I got to thinking about this thing called Twitter. My 12 year old niece asked me what exactly is Twitter and i had to stop and think. While limited to 140 characters it is not really a text message I don’t think. It’s not a blog, not a forum, so what is it really? I finally answered her question by telling her it gives you the ability to send small bits of information to multiple people that are interested in what you do or represent and allows you to keep track of people you find interesting because of who they are or what they do in return.

I got to thinking further about it and it occurred to me that many of the people I follow really don’t seem to get Twitter. I think the fact that Twitter has become mainstream has caused the idea of the tool to get lost. More and more “spammers” are following random people with nothing but links to meaningless sites or advertisements and people seem to “tweet” the most ridiculous things.

I thought I would share some of the things that I do and do not do on Twitter.

1. I don’t protect my updates. That is like going to a party, standing in the far corner and saying nothing.

2. I changed my background to show something about me and I also changed the default avatar. I bet you can tell one thing I like when you see it (www.twitter.com/teddgcm).

3. I never, I mean never tweet something idiotic and disturbing like “I’m going to go poop now!” Someone I follow tweets that and it’s an immediate block. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200. I try to make my tweets at least a little interesting or amusing.

4. When someone sends me a DM (Direct Message) I do not respond in the public stream, I send a DM back.

5. I use the block feature! Did you know that spammers are “punished” with points for every block? Get enough and SEE YA! No more Twitter for them.

6. If I won’t yell it in the middle of a conference I do not tweet it (This might relate to number 3).

7. Share tools you find with the community. I personally like TweetDeck for the PC and Twitdroid for my Android cell phone.

8. Twitter is a conversation, it should be sentences, questions and answers, not just statements.

9. If I supply a link I describe what it links to and why I felt it was important enough to link.

These are some of the rules I have set for myself. What are some things you do or do not do? What tools do you use or do you simply use the website?

I have found many people on Twitter that are interesting and fun. I get news blips from @CNN, updates on the goings on in space from @NASA, talk to and interact with @bobbyllew about Red Dwarf and Electric hybrid vehicles, keep up on local attractions and events and get good information from many others that I can incorporate into my daily life.