Getting The Best Out Of Twitter – Introducing MrTweet

My Twitter mood is continuing these days. After a general post about twittering heights and a more technical one about hashtags in Twitter, today I’ll write a short review of one of the most useful applications you can try to enhance your Twitter experience.

The application is web-based and you can find it at mrtweet.net. MrTweet offers two simple, yet powerful features so far – the app is very young, 4 weeks at the date of this post, if I’m not wrong – and those are

  • listings of your followers that you should follow back
  • listings of the key influencers in your network

In order to measure the quality of the followers you should follow back and to define the “influencer” MrTweet uses a few ad-hoc metrics.  Based on what you already have in your network of followers, MrTweet will harvest a report, in fact, just a simple list. The report shows near each person their ratio of following / frollower, the number of tweets per day and the recipricity: how that person replies or not to non-follows. On top of that, it shows a list of the persons in your network who are already following that person, and, if you really want to know more, it also shows you the latest tweets of that person in your browser. And of course, if you like the guy, you can follow him on Twitter from within MrTweet website.

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Taxonomic Twitter

In another post about Twitter I wrote extensively about the implications of this service from a behavioral perspective. It seems that I’m quite in a “twitter mood” lately since I’m writing another post so close to the first one and I’m planning another one for the upcoming days. Right now I would like to share something more technical about this.

It’s about an attempt to make Twitter even sharper and thinner, by using some sort of taxonomy, or in plain english, a method of grouping together posts by putting “labels” on them. Twitter already has a max limit of 140 characters for each post, and chances for this to grow up are likely to be zero. At least for now. So, in order to increase the readability of the tweets, all work must be done “inside” this 140 characters limit. And the way they’re trying to this is by using some extremely scaled down mark-up language.

They’re called hashtags and they are a way of identifying zones of related content. For instance, if you’re going to tweet a lot about raw food, you can insert somewhere into the tweet something like this “#rawfood”. The “#” sign will have the role to identify the string after it as a marker. Everything with a “#” in front will actually become a label. So every time you will be tweeting about raw food, you will group your tweets into a larger category of possibly related tweets. If somebody else will tweet about the same things and they’ll use the same marker, your tweets will be grouped together.

Using Hashtags Implications

First of all, there will be less room for the actual information. Every hashtag will eat some space out of the 140 characters, leaving less space for the original content. Chances are that your content could be grouped in more than one category, or marker and you’ll be inclined to use more than one hashtag in your tweet. If a consistent API would be provided for working with those hashtags – and chances are that there will be some hooks sooner than we think – then a lot of applications would be using that. Turning Twitter into a searchable catalog is just around the corner. There is a great potential for advertisers and even for people who are trying to promote their blogs or products. It would be the easiest way to direct your tweet to the intended category of readers.

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Twittering Heights

It’s not a secret that Twitter, the 140 characters blogging service has become mainstream. For those of you living on planet Mars, who haven’t yet heard about it, Twitter is a place where you can communicate in a very short way -  140 characters maximum – the answer to a very simple question: “What are you doing?”. Other people may follow you, meaning they will actually see what are you doing / writing. And you can follow other people too, meaning that you can see what they are doing. Simplicity at its best.

But out of simplicity the best things in our life came. And out of simplicity you can create some of the most interesting and challenging things in your life. In today’s post I’ll try to share my opinions on using Twitter in the last few months. I’m approaching my 1000th update on Twitter and that will be one important milestone in my Twitterer career. Joking, of course.

All About Me Versus Sharing Others

Being on Twitter and being engaged in social interactions on this media is a surprisingly interesting activity. Most of the time you’ll be inclined to respond to that fundamental question: “What are you doing?” and unveil your life and day to day activities in short, yet compelling pieces of informations.

But after a while and after reading other people’s timelines you’ll find the need to share some pieces of other people’s life. You’ll start to re-tweet (quote) other people ideas, links, quotes or findings. You’ll start to be a broadcaster for others. In fact, you’ll soon find that one of the key metrics in being a successful twitterer is the “me versus other” ratio. And by “successful twitterer” I don’t mean a popular one, but a person who extracts the best value out of this.

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Depression – How To Un-Handle It

That’s a delicate topic, I admit. Depression is one of the most delicate topics in the world, because it involves sharing the deepest parts of your being. And because it brings to the light feelings of shame, guilt and sadness. I never met any human being who was comfortable to those feelings…

For me, depression, despite its medical definition, is more of a state of rejection, of meaningless time and a lack of value. A state of withdrawal and surrender, a state of worthless actions and a wish to put an end to everything. Depression is just an enormous hole filled with lack of self-esteem and respect, lack of trust in you and anything. I’m not a doctor, and even if I do like to manage multiple skills I don’t intend to become a regular one, so take these definitions as my own personal view of depression and not as a medical approach.

Because I don’t put depression on the doctor’s plate, by the way. I take depression as a sign of imbalance in your whole being. It is not an illness, it is just the fact that some parts of yourslef are in need to take a break. To let go of the pressure. Maybe you asked to much. Maybe somebody else asked too much of you. Maybe you feel anger because you can’t get what you want, or because you had it once and now you lost it. Maybe you just need to rest for a while and your environment can’t let you do that. Whatever the form, the substance is the same: repressed, fermented emotions that are exploding inside and are looking for a way out.

Avoiding The Inevitable

Letting it out is the best thing you can do. Just be aware of the danger that this flow of emotions could take with it, though: it’s like a river that can take your house if you’re not paying attention. But you can’t stop it. That’s the biggest and most hurting mistake I’ve made. You can’t resist it and you can’t escape it. You must let it go, otherwise it will eventually overflow you by accumulation.

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Building Different Skills

People are often confused by the abundance of skills I developed over the years. And I guess what confuses them is the apparent spread of those skills over areas which are apparently incompatible or difficult to match together. For instance, if I bring into the conversation with a programmer an astrological opinion on some fact, chances are that I will get a “blue screen of dead” conversation. And if I bring into a fine arts conversation something about programming, I’ll be most likely left alone with that “mambo jumbo” sentence and labeled as an “unsolvable case of geekery”.

The examples above use extremely distant knowledge areas, but the confusion remains even on more closely related activities like business, marketing and sales. A marketing person will expect that I know nothing on entrepreneurship, since marketing guys are usually employed by somebody else in an established structure. And a sales person will expect that I know noting about marketing, since this should be a complete separate activity inside the company.

I can talk for hours with an astrologer only about astrology and have a fulfilling and entertaining conversation. I can do the same with a programmer and share a lot of the newest web 2.0 technologies and feel at ease with that. I can also talk about entrepreneurship and starting a company from scratch and never feel on moving sands with the person in front of me. But the moment I start to bring new perspectives on some topic and use other skills I have for that insight, my conversation partner becomes reluctant.

I acknowledge that I’ve been pretty affected by that. The moment I opened to somebody and let him know that I know more than what he expected, I was rejected. I came to the point that I felt ashamed of what I knew or learned so far. It’s better to stick on one topic of your life and seek only people who can understand you, I’ve said to myself. I do have the need for social acceptance, so if that’s the price to be paid, let’s pay it. Let’s stick with a limited set of skills, which at least will provide me with a comfortable environment and put me in touch with similar people, and bash all those new and interesting things I could learn.

But I confess I wasn’t able to do this. Although I did my best to succeed in limiting myself, I failed miserably. The dryness of such a life was simply unbearable. Limiting myself to only one major skill was just unconceivable for me and unfulfilling, at least.

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Practical Astrology: The Moon In Signs

As some of you may know, I use astrology for personal development. Among some other stuff, of course. And by that I mean I use it constantly as a symbolic model of reality. The position of the planets on the sky is having some kind of influence on our lives and I learned how to understand that. Today I’ll share a little experiment which lasted for more than a month. It’s about the Moon and its position on the sky during a complete cycle from New Moon to Full Moon. If you still think astrology is only a horoscope in the morning paper, with no value whatsoever, I recommend you to read more about understanding astrology. And if you still think this is just new age garbage, feel free to skip this post, it’s ok.

I guess you already know the Moon is having a complete cycle in around 28 days around the Earth. During this cycle the Moon is staying between 2 and 3 days in each astrological sign. The nature of the sign in which Moon is at some moment is affecting that part of our being which is ruled by Moon. There are many interpretations of what Moon “is” in our lives. For the sake of simplicity I chose to understand Moon as the ruler of our emotions. It has a number of other interpretations but staying only at the emotional level will just be enough for this experiement. Just remember that the Moon represent the things that can hurt us and the things which we need healing from. The Moon is the unconscious pulse of our emotional field. From joy to sorrow, from compassion to anger, everything that is in your emotional filed has something to do with the Moon and its position on the sky.

The Experiment

During a complete cycle of the Moon I monitored my emotions. I also monitored the position of the Moon on the sky and noted my impressions and reflections of what the Moon in the sky could be. I did this in a kind of geeky way by using, of course, an iPhone. There are two apps on the iPhone that I used during this, none of them directly related to astrology, but more on that later on after the experiment description.  For now, let’s just focus on what I felt during a complete cycle of the Moon on the zodiac, from Aries to Pisces.

Moon in Aries

My emotions were extremely intense, like powered with high energy. On the whole, I felt an intense drive to action. Anything I started was out of enthusiasm, was powered by my own choices, not by external circumstances. I also felt an interesting silence on the emotional level, not too much noise, everything seemed extremely pure. It seemed that Moon in Aries favors clean emotions focused on achieving immediate results. Moon in Aries is also accident prone, during this interval I had a small driving accident (no consequences, but the burst of energy was almost physical around me).

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Starting To Coach

Yesterday I had my first session as a coach. It started at 10:00 AM in the morning and lasted about 70 minutes. I just felt great during the whole session and from the feed-back I got from the person being coached, the feeling was shared. What is this coaching about? And why and how am I doing it? Well, let’s take it one step at a time…

After several weeks of discussions and alternative scenarios, Diana and I decided it’s time to slow down the move to New Zealand for a few months. It doesn’t make any sense to pursue it on this economical context. The destination is still the same, but we delayed the date of departure. It’s the same thing as looking through the mirror and decide to postpone your hiking because it is so raining outside. We both agreed this is the best move we can make now.

So, after waking up with a buffer of few more months ahead me I had to face a challenge. What am I going to do? A part from this blogging on eDragonu, of course. While being a very fulfilling activity for myself, this blog – and the business behind it – doesn’t necessarily have to be the only activity. I had to do a short analyze and sketch the short term schedule for the next period.

It took no more than a few days and I came up with two main goals: teaching and coaching. The teaching will involve live training sessions on topics that I’ve been writing about in the last few years, like time management, personal development, productivity and effectiveness, and, of course, GTD. Coaching will have the same underlying fundament, it will only have a different, one to one approach.

Why Am I Coaching?

The short answer is: because somebody asked me to. The long answer has some more subtle reasons, of course.

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Handling Financial Pressure

Now, more than ever, a lot of people are faced with financial pressure. This is what a crisis should be about, anyway. Companies are cutting jobs, people are losing houses and the global economy seems to be falling down. I’m not going to talk about the reasons for this crisis, as I will try to better focus a little about the immediate reality and how I faced similar situations.

Being an entrepreneur is something that, among other interesting stuff, is giving you a lot of financial pressure. Getting from a monthly pay check (in exchange of some time spent in an office) to a complete reverse of the situation, when you have to take your money from the clients (if you do your job well and on time), huh, that’s quite a roller-coaster. It’s a serious comfort shake and it requires a lot of extra energy spent on the financial side. And it is not only your money that’s on the plate, you’ll need money for office rent, for utilities like electricity, internet access, for advertising and promotion and so on. Not to mention your employees or partners. You will have to manage a whole new level of cashing and spending. And believe me, this is a tremendous financial pressure.

When I started my own business, 10 years ago, I faced this like a train hitting a wall. Although I managed to do pretty well, in the first three years I barely knew where my pockets were. They were most of the time empty. Money didn’t have a chance to settle there. Even if I managed to do a decent living per month, there were increasing expenses that I had to face the next month. It was really tough. That was a time when I really had to learn a lot about handling financial pressure.

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