Twitter Logo

I realize not everyone reads the blog from the webpage itself — some read by RSS readers. So you might have missed my Twitter feed over on the right sidebar. I started using the micro-blogging Twitter app about eight months ago, and integrated it into the site some time in the fall. I like Twitter because it’s an easy way to publish quick thoughts or links–tweets are limited to 140 characters–without having to go through the full WordPress blog interface. On top of that, there’s a critical mass of users making it good way to network and pick up some good info.

But this post isn’t just about my Twitter usage (which would make for a lame post), but rather two interesting mediageek-like uses I’ve seen.

Pirates Week LogoRagnar is the producer of the Pirates’ Week podcast, covering pirate radio–primarily shortwave–for more than three years (listen to an interview with Ragnar on the radioshow). An avid shortwave listener, Ragnar has now been posting his reception reports of pirate stations to his Twitter feed. This is a perfect use of Twitter because Ragnar posts while the station is broadcasting, along with its frequency. Pirate shortwave stations are all hit-and-run affairs. They don’t broadcast 24/7, but rather for a half-hour or hour at a time, especially when shortwave propagation conditions are good (they change with the seasons, time of day and atmospheric conditions). So listening to pirate shortwave stations is always a bit of hunt. While the chase is part of the fun, it’s still nice to have someone give you hand by letting you know when he’s found a station.

To some extent Twitter is even more up-to-the-minute than blogs, since the tweets are short and easy to post quickly, making it an ideal platform to broadcast breaking info. You can also configure Twitter to text message your phone with tweets–you can choose whose tweets do that. If you’re a hardcore pirate listener, then this might be a way to stay on top of things without being on the computer.

KBFR LogoBoulder Free Radio is an unlicensed FM radio station that recently returned to the air in that Colorado city with a new crew, resurrecting the name and spirit of a former station that called it quits in 2005. The KBFR crew is also using Twitter to post programming info, events, and other stuff of interest to listeners.

My understanding is that the station is broadcasting nightly, with longer broadcasts on the weekends. To the best of my knowledge the station doesn’t currently maintain a website. So using a Twitter feed is a good way to keep listeners informed of when broadcasts and other events may be happening. Of course, publicity is always a risk for a pirate station, since you also possibly publicize to the FCC. But the more instantaneous nature of Twitter means that you don’t have to give much advance notice. This is an advantage when dealing with the FCC, which isn’t necessarily well suited to running out to bust pirate broadcasters like cops answering a 911 call.

Announcing broadcasts via Twitter would be especially useful for hit-and-run stations that attempt to minimize detection by the authorities by maintaining a less predictable schedule.

Twitter is also designed for two-way communication. Anyone with a free Twitter account can send public or private messages to another Twitter user as easily as posting a tweet. This could be a good way to take requests, reception reports and listener feedback without using the phone or email.

If any readers know of some interesting or innovative use of Twitter by other indy media makers — pirate or otherwise — I’d be curious to hear about them.

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