With nothing terribly interesting or important going on in the world of criminal sentencing, it seemed as good a time as any to engage in some blatant self-promotion. For much of the past year I’ve been experimenting with Twitter. Twitter is a free service that allows users to send and receive short messages that Twitter nerds call tweets. Tweets, which can be no longer than 140 characters, get posted on the author’s profile page and delivered to everyone who “follows” the author. Users can view tweets on the web, or, if they so choose, via their mobile phone as text messages. (A short video available here explains all of this better than I can.) People use Twitter for lots of different purposes: keeping up with friends, following news headlines, and internet marketing to name a few. I’m using it to broadcast information about my work here at the School-I’m @jamie_markham if you care to take a look.
I probably average about two tweets per day. One is usually a link to the daily post on this blog, and one might be a link to a sentencing-related news article. I also post on all sentencing- and corrections-related opinions from our appellate courts, the Fourth Circuit, and the Supreme Court. A typical series of posts might look something like this:
Try as I might, it’s impossible summarize every case or blog post in 140 characters, so I’ll always link to the full opinion or post. (Those goofy “ow.ly” links are produced by one of the many free link-shortening services available on the web-characters in a URL count against your 140-character limit, so the shortening the links leaves more room for substance.)
My target audience is people who work in the criminal justice system who, because they spend a lot of time in court, in meetings, or in the field, don’t have time to sit at a computer to read email, this blog, or slip opinions. (What’s that you say? People also use their computers for other purposes? I had no idea.) My hope is that they might choose to receive my posts as text messages, and that the messages will put them on notice of new cases, blog posts, or publications that they might want to check out later (or right away if they have an iPhone, BlackBerry, or similar device). You can also use Twitter to ask me questions via text message from your mobile phone. That’s happened a few times and I find it kind of cool. (If you send me messages where confidentiality is an issue, be sure you understand how Twitter’s messaging options work-“@replies” are public, “direct messages” are private.)
Right now there are about 780 people following me, putting me just slightly behind Twitter icons like Ashton Kutcher (3.8 million followers) and Shaquille O’Neal (2.4 million). I’m more interested in quality than quantity, though, so if any of this sounds helpful, I hope you’ll check it out and let me know what you think.