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'F' as in Frank

All a Twitter

Last week I finally joined the legions that are on Twitter. You can follow me at twitter.com/jfwrites and see what it's all about.

For the uninitiated, Twitter is a website that allows people to exchange comments and, in particular, share what they are doing at a given moment.

The trick is each post - or "tweet" - is limited to no more than 140 characters. Every letter, number, space and punctuation mark counts.

The above paragraph, for example, was 137 characters. That's nearly the max for a tweet in Twitterville.

It forces a person to be brief and to the point in their comments.

That's not always easy, and Twitter is serving as a good tool to force me to be more succinct in my writing.

There's no room for unneeded words when you're limited to 140 characters. In journalism, getting to the point in a direct, reader-friendly way takes discipline and practice.

My tweets lean towards a blend of my vocation and avocation - journalism and ministry.

It seems easier to maintain a Twitter page for me than a blog, because of the content required to maintain a blog. Call Twitter a mini-blog, if you will.

Twitter has also helped me re-connect with a pastor friend from Oregon.

I'm having some fun with it. Yesterday I started a Thursday tweet called "Top 3 for Thursday" (T3FT) - basically a top three list that changes from Thursday to Thursday.

The website offers an opportunity, too, in that you can sign up to follow other people. Others can sign up to follow you. The result is that "tweets" can bounce back and forth between people, keeping each other up to date.

I'm still learning the ropes, but enjoy the quick and easy posting.

My only gripe with Twitter is that it apparently can't block "spam" followers. That is, twitterers who sign up to follow you that are actually only trying to sell a product. You have to manually check them out and block them.

I'm also learning to be careful who I "follow." Peter King of Sports Illustrated is my favorite NFL writer. I signed up to follow him, only to realize the guy tweets like a robin. I had to sign off because I was buried in King tweets.

So, give me a holler on Twitter if you're so inclined. It would be a "tweet" to hear from you.

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