The Web has been heading in a new direction for a while now. No longer are we looking at it with a destination in mind, per say, it has started an evolution towards the customizable, the human content filter. The Web is slowly becoming more and more platform oriented, where users are able to use services such as Twitter and other lifestreaming software to filter Web content and customize their experience. As Eric Schonfeld discusses in his blog post, Jump into the Stream, you have to think of the Web as a stream versus pages. The stream being fluid and constantly changing and the pages being static and updating periodically.
I've had a Twitter account for a couple of years now and have loved using it. It has become an effective way for me too keep up with some of my family members and friends, while also becoming a source of news and information. For news and information I read or scan the tweets like I would the headlines of a newspaper or a national news website.
Besides my personal use of Twitter, it has significant applications for libraries. This is especially true for the immediate and distant future and libraries will need to become experts in lifestreaming technologies in order to maintain their relevancy within their respective communities. In order to unlock the potential of the Twitter libraries only need initially use it for advertising their services and events. The next step for libraries is to use it to 'connect' with their patrons by interacting with them. This interaction will establish a library's sphere of influence within the lifestreaming realm and within the attention of patrons using Twitter-like technologies.
A couple of blogs and wikis that mention using Twitter and similar technologies for 'connecting' with patrons and extending the libraries' services via these trending mediums are Twittering Libraries, How Your Library May Not be Using Twitter But Should, and Twitter Update and how I was able to exploit the latest social networking site without really trying. All of these posts have wonderful, ingenious suggestions on how to use Twitter and and RSS to further a library's reach and stay relevant to their patrons.
One of my favorites is creating a blog devoted to aggregating RSS feeds and Twitter posts by the library. This way patrons only need to subscribe to the library's blog with their RSS aggregator and the library filters the content for them. This would undoubtedly cut back on the amount of maintenance needed for the blog and tweeting new content only takes minutes, the process is automated. Another great idea was to create a library Flickr account to be tied to Twitter so a library could tweet events happening at that time with text and images.
Twitter and technologies like, not to mention all the third party applications that have been developed to enhance Twitters usefulness and experience are here to stay. As one blogger has written, I cannot think of their name now, the 'stream' is the next layer of the Web, the third layer and it is in its infancy. This new layer will bring new innovations and more opportunities for libraries to extend their services and relevancy. The ride should be interesting, ... hang on!