One Week in the Twitterverse: Me, Oprah and Millions More on Twitter

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Boy, did I pick an interesting week in which to join Twitter: First I join up (@twailgum) last Thursday. The very next day someone named Oprah Winfrey goes out there and steals all my thunder.

The nerve!

The Twitter world was abuzz when Ashton Kutcher finally bested CNN in their duel to first reach 1 million followers. Then, of course, Twitter's servers had to work extra hard to keep up with the media-enabled crush of new Tweeters like me—soccer moms, book clubbers, yo-yo dieters and other curious folks wondering what this whole Twitter thing is all about.

The resulting "Oprah Effect" on Twitter's back-end operations caused a couple of issues for users. During my first six days, for instance, my profile page displayed just one icon out of the numerous people I was following: Professional golfer Stewart Cink.

Though I wasn't alone (Twitter's help page noted this kind of problem was pervasive), I felt as though it made me look some kind of a stalker of professional golfers named Stewart.

Anyway, before I continue with my early thoughts on Twitter, let me acknowledge something: Not too long ago, I was the cranky blogger writing headlines such as:

"Wake Up People! Forget Twitter and iPhone Apps, and Focus on SAP and ERP Apps."

In "10 Things I Hate About Tech," number 5 was this gem: "Twitter. Tweet this: NOBODY REALLY CARES WHAT YOU ARE DOING RIGHT NOW!"

I've had no love for Facebook, either: "Why I'm Just Saying No to Facebook" and to further prove my point, "Bill Gates and I Both Say No to Facebook."

So what happened to me? Two Mondays ago, the higher-ups at my company politely informed the online editorial staff that we all should have Twitter accounts by week's end, and I like having food, clothing and shelter. (Feel free to call me whatever you please. I can take it. This week, several commenters called me a deragatory term that I haven't heard since high school.)

My next admission—my mea tweeta, if you will—probably won't surprise you: I like Twitter. I was excited at first, and a little overwhelmed—the tweets come fast and furious at times. It's hard to keep up with all the tweets. I felt pressured to read them all and click on the links. (Bad idea.)

But by the end of the first day I was using Twitter's TweetDeck application, which is very cool and quite helpful from a "visual organization" standpoint.

I can also see real value for my profession: the ability to listen to, query and interact with a vibrant community that cares about the same things I do (enterprise systems and ERP failures and ground-breaking SaaS rollouts and healing long-standing business-IT fractures).

I've also felt some unexpected anxiety over a couple of things: Should I automatically follow someone who follows me? (Seems impolite not to, though I'm still wading through that process.) Am I tweeting too much? Too little? Or not re-tweeting others' work enough, which is one of the more interesting aspects of Twitter? I also publicly tweeted something I had no desire to publicly tweet. (Yikes.)

Of course, it would hugely hypocritical of me to become one of those people blasting random 140-character non-sequiturs to the masses—the very Twitter user who I mercilessly ridiculed

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