Tweeting the Night Away

Thursday 11th February 2010

As you may have noticed from the new addition to the sidebar, I recently joined Twitter. I’d managed to hold off from joining for a while because I didn’t really get the point – my writing is quite verbose at the best of times, so what on earth is the use of 140 characters? What can anyone say in that tiny space that is of any worth to anyone? Well, a few people (well, 3) told me that it’s good and that I should join, and so I did, just to see what it’s like. Besides, when I joined it was exam period and at that time joining Twitter seemed a better use of my time than revising for the geotechnical engineering exam I had a day or so later…

Anyway, I quite like it. Turns out there’s a lot that can be said in 140 characters – generally stuff of the form of  “wow, this just happened!” or “ooh, look at this…”. There was a specific thing which made me realise just how powerful a tool Twitter is, and that was the first F1 test of the season, which took place last week. This was the first time that many of the teams showed their 2010 cars to the world and the first time that any of them had a chance to run their cars properly and see how good they actually are (or aren’t). For lots of reasons, people not intimately involved in the teams can’t really read too much from the times, so whilst this early testing isn’t really good for starting to map out the relative competetiveness of each car, it’s still pretty interesting and exciting – there’s not been any F1 since early November, and us F1 fans need our fix!

To me, Twitter really came into it’s element during that first test. There were a number of people at the test circuit (people from the F1 teams as well as journalists) who were tweeting away; keeping the hive mind informed as to who was on track, what laptimes they were doing, what the weather was like, pointing out different technical aspects of the cars, and all sorts of other interesting things which made it really easy and enjoyable to keep up with what was happening. In the past, the only coverage of pre-season testing would have been a short report at the end of the day, listing the times that each driver did and the number of laps, as well as some photos. Following the event on Twitter was really good because getting information throughout the day meant that it was easier to get an “overall” picture of each day of testing, and to try to work out what the times mean (if anything). It was also much more involving – getting an almost-constant stream of information made it seem like much more of an “event”.

I’m really looking forward to using it during the races this year. I can see that it’d be really cool then for much the same reason – taking in multiple sources of information all relating to the same event. That, in conjunction with the live timing app on the F1 website (which – although it sounds really geeky – is surprisingly useful for watching the races. Helps keep track of the strategies, because you see lots of things which aren’t ever picked up in the commentary and helps you to read the race better) should make watching the races even better.

I love technology for things like this. The way I can use different tools to change the way I do certain things, so that I get more out of them (as in this example) or to save time or make it more convenient.  Things like Google Reader and Calendar and the way they interact between all the devices I use to access the internet (phone included – calendar sync on the iPhone is one thing in particular which makes me want to shout “witchcraft!”). The way all my documents are stored in a Dropbox, so that I can work on the same thing on any computer – I love that I can work on a document on my laptop in the library, then come home and work on the same document on my desktop, and the whole transition being pretty much seamless. I don’t have to worry about syncing files between computers or making sure that they’ve all got the most up-to-date version – it’s all just done for me. Clever stuff. All relatively simple stuff too, but it’s amazing how much a difference they make.

Posted at 1:33 am | Posted In: GeekMotorsportSleepTechnology Tagged:



Thursday 11th February 2010, 2:15 pm

I like twitter because it’s an easy way of keeping abreast of the news or whatever (that said the Guardian app for iPhone is even better for that I find) and of communicating with various people as well as getting titbits of news about things I’m interested in – what comics have gone up when and where, what the line up will be at this year’s Towersey and things like that. I should probablly get into Calendar and stuff. Never have yet though, don’t really know *how*.

Anyway, I have a filofax, which I love. I don’t know that technology *is* always better than not.


Thursday 11th February 2010, 5:27 pm

I was on Twitter, well I still am but I’ve stopped using it now but I did find it most useful for keeping up with bands and recordings of new albums or tours etc
Then I figured it was just another thing to log in, click click and distract. So I stopped :-p


Friday 12th February 2010, 10:47 am

Twitter is one of those things that sounds simple and trivial, and then just how powerful it actually is just sort of sneaks up on you without you noticing.

I think the time that really sticks in my memory is the Trafigura scandal. The Guardian were gagged from reporting on a Parliamentary question about illegal waste dumping off the Ivory Coast. It blew up on Twitter in the morning, and #trafigura, and the law firm representing them (Carter Ruck, #carterruck) blew to the top of the Twitter trending topics, and the very information they were trying to suppress popped up on blog after blog.

By lunchtime, we’d won. They dropped the gagging order. That’s one of the things I find truely astounding about our new world; information cannot be supressed any longer.

Just yesterday a company got caught red-handed plagarising an artists work on their products:

Personally, I like having it just as a quick place to post things I think are awesome, like when I saw a man playing a bicycle drumkit on Regent Street:

It’s also great for keeping up with friends, quite a lot of my Twitter followers / followees are people I know in real life, so it’s great for having little running semi-private conversations.


Friday 12th February 2010, 6:16 pm

I’m wondering whether the title is a reference to chumbawamba; thumbthumping, because that’s the song I think of when I see it. He drinks a whisky drink, he drinks a vodka drink…

I agree with hannah on the twitter thang. Just another form of procrastination. I’m sure it can be fun and informative, but I’m also sure that I wouldn’t use it for the right reasons.


Sunday 14th February 2010, 1:46 am

@Jenny: I use Google Calendar. All my Uni timetable is on there, along with any other appointments and stuff I make. It automatically grabs all my events from Facebook, and I’ve got it to sync with some other calendars so that certain events also appear on my Google Calendar view (e.g. any F1 event, and lots of other motorsport stuff, as well as public holidays etc). The really clever bit then happens on my iPhone. I use the Google exchange server thingy, which basically means that I get all my email pushed to my phone, as well as my Google Calendar. If I create or edit an event on my calendar in one place (say, on the calendar app on my phone), then it updates the calender everywhere else in a matter of seconds. It probably doesn’t sound like much, but in practice it’s incredibly useful. You can get it to do much the same with contacts, but I haven’t done that because my Google contacts are a complete mess and I can’t be bothered to sort them out.

In summary: much more useful than your filofax :-p (although I worry sometimes that Google has a worryingly high amount of information about me…)

@teacherface: Hehe, fair point. To be honest it takes me less time to read my Twitter feed than it does to catch up on the various feeds I read through RSS and whatnot. Mostly, if I really need to crack on with work then I just close the window with Twitter in – generally stops me being distracted by it (for a while, anyway).

@Andy: Yeah, it surprised me how powerful it is – I really wouldn’t be without it now, which isn’t something I thought I’d say. Also, I agree that it’s useful for those little conversations. At the moment I think I only know about 3 people who use it, which is a shame.

@Flix: Chumbawumba? Puh-leasee :-p Actually I had this in mind.

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