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posted 28 Mar 2012, 06:12 by David Sherlock   [ updated 29 Mar 2012, 01:34 ]
I really can't get excited about this topic, writing for my cetis blog isn't the most thrilling anymore and don't have the hunger to finish it. Unfinished blog post on why twitter will be around forever, just like encarta.

Using Twitter. Being a passive user

JISC CETIS are making changes to the way its twitter account is managed; Sheila has blogged about them here. <link>

During the internal conversation around this move I didn’t partially feel that I use twitter enough to make useful comment on what our audience would find useful.  However from conversations with fellow CETIS staff and friends it turns out that I am from a breed of Twitter user that is more common than I had initially realised. This group is the the passive user base; a group of Twitter users that consume but don’t input.

The Passive User
While I was thinking about this I came across some stats on Twitter accounts.  <>. Although these stats are from 2010 I found them really interesting. The report made an estimate that 73% of twitter users tweeted less than 3 times and 34% had never tweeted.  I wonder if these accounts are inactive or are they passive users using their accounts as a way to get information out of twitter.

What I’m looking for and how I get it
On twitter I am interested in what people are doing and what they think of something. I’m not looking for resources and don’t follow shameless self-promotion links.  I like to know what a general feeling or mood on a subject is so I opt to use lists or hashtags rather than follow individual accounts, I couldn’t imagine watching Question Time (ok.. ok.. Celebrity Juice) without the hashtag up.

I’m know I’m not alone in being interested in Twitter this way, there are some really good texts on Twtter Sentiment Analysis and Opinion Mining( ,I’ve dabbled with some of the examples opinion mining R scripts myself and found it really interesting<links>. I find twitter really useful in getting a general census on the way an opinion/mood/technology is heading.

Although I don’t follow individuals there are certain groups of people that I would like to know what they are up to and for this I subscribe to RSS feeds of lists. Twitter has hidden its RSS functionality well but you can grab RSS of user at:

I don’t feel the need to keep an eye on this 24/7  but do skim through it every week or so. You can grab an RSS feed of CETIS Staff here:


I don’t tend to look for resources on twitter,  I just don’t think  it’s a good way to find new resources. I feel much more confidant that a resource is worth visiting after it’s been through a ranking system (  from a like minded than take the resource authors word for it.

Why no twitter account?
For me it’s just not a network I want a two-way conversation with.
Twitter is an amplifier and makes me feel somewhat bi-polar!  I’m also sure that many people find that twitter occupies a place between personal and work that they find unsettling and I just don’t want multiple twitter accounts. I like to know which of my accounts belong where your welcome to poke around my github, site, youtube account.  <links> Your not so welcome to poke around my reddit or facebook account. 

I think the passive user base of twitter is potentially huge.

To break it down, for my personal use:

I find twitter is excellent at:
Finding public opinion
Real time news, especially local (Has my local Game (R.I.P) shop broken a game release street date?)
Finding out what people are upto
Making me depressed

I find twitter is bad at:

Twitter doesn’t want me to be a passive user

How do you measure impact on passive users?

David Sherlock,
29 May 2012, 06:29