Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Is Tweeting and Social Media for the Birds?

Author, David V. Kimball
It's a delight for me to introduce readers to David V. Kimball, a young man I had the pleasure of teaching during his high school years. In fact, David was one of my TTTAs (Total Techie Teacher's Assistants), without which I would not have known how to do important things with my computer, like turn it on--or what to do when my iPhone warbled. Now a university graduate with a degree in Communication and Marketing, David works with Microsoft as part of the Training and Evangelism team. And he has done something close to my heart. He's written his first book! I want my readers to meet David and find out what his new book is all about.

DOUGLAS: Welcome, David. Congratulation on writing and launching your new book Beyond Tweeting! Nobody when I was your age even had a remote category for social media; tweeting was called postcards back then--you do know what postcards are, right? Picture on one side, space to write--that'd be write by hand with a ball point pen (I'll explain about those later)--and a place to put the stamp (ya, I'll tell you about stamps another time, too). Never mind, talk to us about your journey to writing BT.
DAVID: Thank you, Doug. You raise a good point - social media hasn't been around very long. We're still figuring it out. Twitter, in particular, tends to confuse people. Posting on a website with a seemingly arbitrary 140 character limit is a turn off for some, while others can't get enough of the social network. So what is Twitter exactly? That's the first question I sought to answer by writing this book.

DOUGLAS: Being the techno-moron that I am, I'm going to ask you to unpack that a bit more (you can use more than 140 characters). What exactly is Twitter and all this yammer about something called tweeting?
DAVID: Twitter is a social networking website. Each "tweet" is one post. When I began writing, I came to the following conclusion: there is no "one way" to use Twitter. It's built to become something bigger than just posting short messages; it's a dynamic networking platform. Even better, once you align your personal interests and passions with your Twitter profile, it becomes exponentially more powerful.

DOUGLAS: Could you reduce that down even more for all the tech-tards reading this (of course, I get everything you're saying... Just thinking of others)? Let me put it this way: What's actually going on with Twitter and tweeting?

DAVID: Sure. Basically, everyone has something they love to do and love to talk about. Everyone likes meeting new people that share their love for that particular thing, so why not do it using the internet? With Twitter.com you can setup a profile and meet others in a topic-driven environment.

DOUGLAS: So how did you go about learning this language? I mean, things like Twitter and social media--all things computer and technology--it's like another language, right? So how did you get to be an expert in it? 
DAVID: It is another language! Honestly, I learned simply by using technology a lot. At a very young age I started scribbling on Microsoft Paint and typing random stories on Microsoft Word on the family's Windows 98 machine (no product placement here, I swear). I had never taken a formal course on anything internet-related, just created lots of social media accounts and played around with them. And now that you bring it up, I don't actually consider myself a social media expert at all. I'm more of what you call a social media practitioner, aka, a person actively engaged in an art or discipline. I've just used these platforms a lot and have found a few things that work! 

DOUGLAS: Au contraire, Monsieur. I'm thinking you're being too modest here. That may explain your early acquisition of the tech language, the grammar stage of you picking up this discipline, but clearly you are way past the grammar stage; I'm thinking logic and rhetoric here. Talk to me about what you studied in college. How did your studies prepare you to write this book?
DAVID: As far as how I was prepared, I have to go back well before college to my homeschooled days. My mother deliberately selected a literature-based curriculum so I was exposed to a large variety of reading and writing early on. Of course, a bit later, some high school English teacher might have had something to do with helping me along, too (although I called him Mr. Bond then, not Doug). Except, in addition to reading literature, he made me study writers' intent, historical context, and write research papers! Turns out - that's exactly what my college professors wanted me to do soon thereafter. Who knew! I decided to major in Communication at Northwest University with a minor in Marketing. I was elected to NU's Student Government and ran all of their social media accounts, managed their website, created promotional graphics, and ended up completely rebranding NUSG itself.

DOUGLAS: Who would benefit from reading BT and in what specific ways would it benefit them?

DAVID: I wrote Beyond Tweeting with a variety of people in mind, so prior knowledge of using the platform is not required. In essence you could give this book to someone who only has an email address, an internet connection, and a laptop, and they'd be set. Early chapters detail the sign-up process, what information to put in your profile, and how to start tweeting. For people that already use Twitter, they will gain key insights that will improve their experience and may even cause them to repurpose it altogether. For example, if Joe Schmoe simply uses Twitter to see friends post pictures of cats and hear coworkers complain about work, I'd encourage Joe to read my book and learn to use Twitter a different way. Once he puts it into practice, he might find 10 of the best friends he didn't know he had using Twitter. Of course, if Joe really does like cat pictures, he can apply BT's tactics to finding more of them!

DOUGLAS: CS Lewis loved cats, so we're okay with a dude who likes cats, right? Seriously, that's a very helpful overview. Remember Gutenberg? Back in 1450 he was taking lots of heat for his moveable-type printing technological innovation. What would you say to the well-intentioned Christian who is convinced that Twitter and social media are innovations from the lower regions? 
DAVID: With every innovation comes a new abuse. That's just the way it is in a broken world--and when something new comes around, we can either focus on the negatives and dangers it may possess, or we can look at the opportunities for betterment and growth. For hesitant Christians, I would encourage them to look at how we can use social media to expand the Kingdom. Imagine the gospel being propagated to exponentially more people than would be possible with conventional media. Not only is the Bible more accessible now--but godly people can use social networking sites like Twitter as a platform to send clear messages about the real truth, hope, and love we find in Jesus Christ.  If nothing else, use social media sites to be kind and serve the needs of other people.

DOUGLAS: Great answer. Tell readers how they can learn more and how they can get BT (and any final words you'd like to add)
DAVID: First I'd like to mention how valuable my editors Whitney Chen and Rebekah M. Ueland have been, the book wouldn't be what it is without them. You can get Beyond Tweeting on my website at davidvkimball.com/book. I'd also like to mention I started a podcast about social media for practitioners of the same name. You can listen to the Beyond Tweeting Podcast at beyondtweeting.com. Thanks, Doug!
DOUGLAS: All the best on your knew book, David. Now I'm going to go tweet this!


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