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TweetDeck enhances social networking experience

I came late to the use of TweetDeck – I played with other applications before taking the plunge into this interface. Those applications were easier to immerse myself in because of the limited capacity they shared – simple, straightforward, one use applications (i.e. twitpic). TweetDeck is in a class of its own. It is a far more interactive, multifaceted application.

TweetDeck was slightly more daunting than other, simpler, applications because it requires two downloads – an additional Adobe program that hosts the TweetDeck platform as well as TweetDeck itself, which resides in the program system of your computer. I am often hesitant to install or download anything on my computer. I pushed that hesitation aside and took the plunge. Now TweetDeck has the capacity to run anytime I tell it to. The tiny yellow bird icon appears in the toolbar of my computer. By clicking that icon or the larger version which appears on my desktop, I can launch TweetDeck. It was easy to download and launch, but there was still a learning curve.

tweetdeck main page

At first use, I didn’t feel TweetDeck was user friendly. Also, having become accustomed to the continuous updates and changes that occur on my Twitter homepage, I thought TweetDeck might hold me back from real time interaction. I later found out that the real time interaction, while following so many people, caused me to miss some tweets that were directed to me. So, habit and hesitation held me back from exploring TweetDeck to great disadvantage. It’s unfortunate that I was unsure of myself with this application and therefore didn’t explore all the nuances of what it can do until recently.

my TweetDeck page

TweetDeck defaults to four columns – all friends, mentions (where you are mentioned in a tweet), direct messages, and TweetDeck recommends. Each column has something valuable to offer. The all friends column is a real time Twitter homepage type section where every tweet by the people you follow appears – so you never lose touch with what is occurring in Twitter-space. The mentions column covers all messages where your ID/name is mentioned – I found messages to me that were initially missed on the regular Twitter homepage. The mentions column has been invaluable in keeping touch with conversations that include me. The direct message column shows all the direct messages I have received – I don’t have to click a separate area to see them as I would have to do on the Twitter homepage (those messages have totaled to 106 as of today). Finally, the TweetDeck recommends column shows members who may have something in common with you – I have followed 3 people based on the TweetDeck recommendations after looking at those members’ profiles and their last few comments.

There are other things that TweetDeck can do that the Twitter homepage cannot do. A few of those capabilities are useless to me (i.e. the facebook and myspace functions – I don’t have a page on either site). However, I did find something even more interesting – the search function. If you click the magnifying glass in the upper left area of the TweetDeck platform, you can put in a word, term, or hashtag and it will automatically add a column with the results (tweets) related to that search. For example, I put in #wecf09 and it opened a column with all the tweets with that hashtag. I also put in the search term “collaborative essay” and TweetDeck created another column with tweets on that topic. So what do you do if you are finished with your search and want to eliminate a column? Simply click the “x” at the top of that column to close it. One other TweetDeck action that deserves serious mention – TweetDeck automatically shortens lengthy URLs. Where you might have to go to a separate link shortening application to plug in a URL on the Twitter homepage, TweetDeck saves you that step by shortening the URL for you.

TweetDeck, if anything, has made Twitter as a whole, more user friendly. I had enjoyed the use of Twitter on the simple Twitter platform and find it even more enjoyable using TweetDeck. Though I still revert to the simple Twitter homepage when I am at a computer that does not have TweetDeck installed, I am more apt to use TweetDeck on my own computer. I believe Twitter is a valuable networking tool that has enhanced my social networking experience.

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