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Linux Containers Authors: Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Zakia Bouachraoui, Pat Romanski, Stefana Muller

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Links on Twitter, day 3

A picture named loco.gifWhen Scripting News started twelve years ago, it was a link blog, the only kind of blog that existed at the time, and of course they weren't even called blogs, a term that wouldn't come along for another three years. Over time I started including "posts" -- longer essays, following the form of other bloggers. Just before I started using Twitter, early in 2007, I made a conscious decision to stop linking from Scripting News, and to make every bit of content here a post. It wasn't doing any good to be the only link blog. When I started using Twitter it provided an outlet for links, I pushed the links I'd normally post on Scripting News.

I tried a lot of experiments with links, but they all came up short. Either I didn't have enough people following to create critical mass, or the attention span of Twitter users is too ephemeral to make it worth the effort. You could see it in the read counts of things I point to on Twitter. In the first few minutes there would be hundreds of hits, then the traffic would fall off immediately. For most people Twitter scrolls fast, it seems a waste to put much thought into linking, because it doesn't seem to generate much thought.

Now I think I've hit the sweet spot, for a variety of reasons:

1. No special feed, the links go out to my main Twitter account, so the most people see them. This means I have to be the only editor. The feed has my name on it, so the links come from me.

2. I have a very sweet editorial tool. It's so simple and effortless I actually look forward to pushing a link cause it's so much fun. smile

3. The links are not ephemeral, they accumulate on a page of the 25 most recent links ranked by the number of clicks, thanks to the facility of the tr.im API. I find myself going back to that page as part of my rotation, along with GMail, Twitter and FF -- I want to see how each topic is viewed by the people following the flow. There are real differences. A link to me singing Green Acres with Amy Bellinger didn't rank so high (shame cause it's funny) but a Lifehacker article about running Ubuntu in a Window on Windows ranked very high with over 1000 clicks over a long period. Clearly this link was passed around. I think more people are going to tune into this list, esp as I branch out and do it for other prominent Twitter linkers, and it gets included in something bigger I'm playing with. smile

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