To tweet or not to tweet?

I have resisted suggestions that I go on Facebook (too private a person, too busy) but now I am being encouraged to join Twitter.   I gather it helps increase traffic for posts on blogs and I am impressed by the number of followers a friend has.   I’m not sure, though, that short messages from me (‘I’m marking scripts’, ‘I’m still marking scripts’, ‘I’m on a train’, ‘I’m on a train and marking scripts’) will be that fascinating.  Hmm, should I, shouldn’t I, have I missed something?

About Lord Norton

Professor of Government at Hull University, and Member of the House of Lords
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14 Responses to To tweet or not to tweet?

  1. Alex Bennee says:

    Twitter* tends to work best when the posts are relevant. Much as I admire your posting here I don’t think I would be interested in knowing what your having for lunch. However posts along the lines of “off to debate X in the chamber” could well be considered on-topic. However it’s really up to you to decide what your feed is for.

    The other key feature is proper use of hashtags (e.g. #ukpolitics). They effectively act as meta-data and allow people to follow mentions by people who they don’t follow directly. Try watching a twitter stream of #worldcup during a game or #bbcqt while Question Time is on. It allows a insta-community to form around a shared event. Hash tags are entirely unregulated but a consensus tends to form around what the appropriate tags are.

    This is not to say there isn’t much outright silliness on services like twitter. My feed tends to vary between general shouts, too much geek info and the banality of my life. However my audience is mainly made of friends so it’s more or less the cyber equivalent of pub banter.

    * Other micro-blogging services are available. My status updates are actually duplicated across Facebook, Twitter and (Open Source twitter clone) from the rather excellent Gwibber Micro-blogging client. I try and avoid silo-ing my data with any one particular service.

  2. Jonathan says:

    You don’t have to give a running account of your day on Twitter. Instead, you could provide brief comments on the issues of the day. It’s a microblogging service, so just include the same sorts of posts you do in your blog.

  3. Chris K says:

    Jonathan is right that you don’t have to give a running commentary of your life. But then if you don’t ‘tweet’ often enough presumably people will forget to look on the occasions where you do have something interesting to say (in fewer* than 140 characters).

    *less ?

    I don’t tweet. I don’t have an account. I don’t really understand it at all. The only twitter page I look at occasionally is because it has its own web address which is easy to remember. I wouldn’t bother navigating my way round otherwise.

    I see you have quite an impressive fan page on Facebook, presumably your students? You’re too modest to mention that, of course.

  4. ladytizzy says:

    I tried Twitter but failed to see the point of it. Ditto Facebook, Second Life, and anything else that claims some element of socialising.

    Mr Cameron’s famous observation was correct.

  5. As one who has been known to twitter—here and here—one suggestion would be tweets from Lord Norton on political events (or updates on Parliamentary literature) on which he didn’t necessary wish to write further (either for Lords of the Blog or for The Norton View.

    There is much occurring in British politics that I’d like to follow, but I either don’t know about it or get bogged down in e-mail lists from official servers. Quick notices from Lord Norton about things he suggests his ‘fans’ should know about would be a great boon!

  6. Liam says:

    Alex Benee has provided good advice, many of your readers seem to be Free software/Open Source enthusiasts, most of whom hang-out on The suggestion to sign-up to several sites then update them using a single piece of software is a good one.

    As for the content — as many others have mentioned — it shouldn’t be boring stuff, I imagine a ‘Lord Norton Tweet’ to look something like:

    ‘”Literally” creeping back into usage, people using “decimate” when they mean “wipe out”. Oh dear.’

    ‘Archbishop of Canterbury infringes the rules of the House, he spoke in a debate but was not present for the closing speech.’

    ‘Squirrel was after my nuts in St. James’ Park today.’

    You could balance the extra work by refraining from posting short updates to this blog and using Twitter/ for them instead.

    Also, and this might be going a little far, you could use a mobile device for posting to micro-blogging services. This means you waste as little time with updates as possible, since you can post updates no matter where you are. Even better, all us Norton fans will know a squirrel climbed up your leg the minute it happens. 😉

    Unrelated and random point: happy Canada Day everybody, literally.

    • Lord Norton says:

      Liam: Many thanks for that. Much appreciated. You would probably do a better job of writing my tweets than I would! I did think about the value of tweeting on Tuesday, when I was so busy there was no time to do any posts but – given that I was in the chamber for about eight hours – I could have done some tweets, offering a commentary on some of the speeches – and the reaction (which is not captured in Hansard).

      • Liam says:

        Liam: Many thanks for that. Much appreciated.

        You’re very welcome.

        I could have done some tweets, offering a commentary on some of the speeches – and the reaction (which is not captured in Hansard).

        Meta-Hansard, good idea!

  7. franksummers3ba says:

    User / Name Actions
    Philip Norton | Congleton, Cheshire, United Ki @hayleystevens 2015 is where they go in part 2, but this date seems to be from a single quote. about 6 hours ago
    Your lists:
    Philip Norton On the farm, 8 exams still to set. No inspiration. #FML about 8 hours ago
    Your lists:
    Philip Norton I just entered the @BWBooks “Year of Books” Contest. I can win a year’s supply of books (and more)! ( #bwbcontest 11 months ago
    Your lists:
    Philip Norton | England @adamlambert its my girlfriends birthday today& shes a big fan could you please wish lisa a happy birthday…preordered yr album 4 her xx 9:48 AM Apr 26th
    Your lists:
    Philip Norton | Iowa traffic in Kansas City is nuts! These people drive like Mo-Mos. 4:52 PM Sep 19th, 2009
    Your lists:
    Philip Norton Is thinking bout my ex girlfriend and thinking i wish i cud go bck in time and re-live it so i cud make things right xx about 1 year ago
    Your lists:
    philip norton | charleston illinois is excited for the weekend. and congrats to eiu football for stomping isu! 11:40 AM Sep 4th, 2009
    Your lists:
    Philip Norton Your lists:
    phil norton Your lists:
    Philip Norton Your lists:
    Philip Norton | Newcastle Revision, Eminem Recovery Album and @Lockerz videos!! 12:46 PM Jun 21st
    Your lists:
    Philip Norton-Berry trying to work out how to use this properly 11 months ago
    Your lists:
    Philip norton Hi everyone first time on here 4 months ago
    Your lists:
    Philip Norton | England @Wossy If a giant WinniePooh cumz up2U askin if u want2 join M-MouseClub in hisVAN-DN’T it was lik a scene frm Scum! 6 months ago
    Your lists:
    Philip Norton Your lists:
    Philip Norton scoping out tour de france 12 months ago
    Your lists:
    philip norton im sat indoors watching thre raindrops about 1 month ago
    Your lists:

  8. franksummers3ba says:


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