Harris Pastides takes the Twitter plunge

I was very interested to see Harris Pastides take the plunge into Twitter today. His first Tweet? Here:

Can’t wait for the baseball journey that begins tomorrow. Tweet the Three-peat!

And I think most of us would be happy to reTweet that. I did.

This is interesting to me because it was in a meeting with Harris that I first became a convert to Twitter. It was back when I was doing a 90-day consulting gig with the university right after I left the paper (right after I got canned, for those of you just joining us). At the time, there was a lot of discussion about how the university in general, and the president’s office in particular, needed to communicate in a social media age.

Lee Bussell from Chernoff Newman, a competitor of ADCO (you are all free to boo and hiss at this point if you feel the urge), brought in some of his people to give the president and some of the university’s communications folks a briefing on Twitter, Facebook, blogs and the like. (It should be noted that various departments in the university were already making use of such media, although there was no overall plan to it.)

For my part, I nodded sagely during the blog parts, being a four-year veteran who had just retired one blog and started this one. But I became impatient during the Twitter and Facebook bits. They seemed pointless and frivolous to me. Why fool with 140 characters when you can get into a subject as deeply as you want (with none of the finite restrictions of print) on a blog?

After the meeting, I said as much to Tim Kelly (“Crack the Bell,” “Indigo Journal”), whom I had just met for the first time, even though we had interacted in the blogosphere for years. He told me I should give those silly-sounding media a try. Why?, I asked. Because you can use them to promote your blog, he said — just post your headline and a link, and it will grow your readership.

So I tried it, and promptly got hooked. It’s like… well, you know how they say video poker is the most addictive form of gambling (particularly for women, for some reason), because of something the flashing images and quick rewards do to your brain? Well, Twitter is the crack cocaine of written communication, and probably for similar reasons. You can follow the very first stages of this conditionstarting back here.

That’s the bad news. The good news (aside from the fact that I am revered as one of the Twitterati) is that the readership of my blog  now is about five times what it was at the newspaper. Did I mention that I set a new record in January, with 272,417 page views? (And as long as we’re talking numbers, I’m up to 1,643 followers.)

Here’s hoping my friend Harris doesn’t develop a serious addiction problem. I doubt that he will. After all, he managed to hold out three years longer than I did in starting. Besides, he’s a very sober, solid, serious academic type — very grounded, and even less given to faddish enthusiasms than I.

But it will bear watching…

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