More spring tweetering - Martha Carr

I've been writing about social media lately in an attempt to understand some small corner of the rapidly expanding virtual world.

However, it's not like any previous forms of communication. Those took time to spread, and had very definable uses and limitations, not to mention patents.

The telegraph took a lot of pioneers willing to string wire across hundreds of miles, and then a handful of operators who charged by the word.

The telephone took even more wire, more operators, but we could yak up a storm as long as we were willing to stand in one place, and a lot of the time be overheard by nosy little brothers.

Now, we have become more and more capable of communicating at will, any time, any place about every thought with thousands we'll never meet on any topic.

We are one boundless party wrapped in an endless encyclopedia of knowledge that is hard to contain or suppress. Just ask Mubarek or Gaddafi, or even Iran about that one.

Social media is the biggest proof yet that knowledge is power and our parents were right when they said get an education and the rest will take care of itself.

One of the most unique twists to the latest big explosion, Twitter, is how much the users have impacted the language of tweeting and come up with add-on's of their own that are then picked up by others.

Unlike Facebook, which is a much more enclosed universe that only allows approved changes from within their own cubicles, Twitter has embraced the organic growth, and that may just be the reason they will go farther and last longer.

It's as if they accidentally took the best aspect of Wikipedia, which is the interactive and engaging content from the user, and mixed it with Facebook's genius of a few underpaid techies, and then left the door open for all-comers to see what might happen next.

Of course, that also means that Twitter subtly changes the way people find each other at a rather rapid pace, and that's the very reason some people have been a little timid to jump in and try it out.

That's where I occasionally come in handy. Even as a child I was willing to pull the lever, push the button or walk the line to find out what came next.

That is a detriment in elementary school but a big plus when approaching a new social medium. Plus, I know when to go ask for help and Neal Schaffer, www.windmillnetworking.com, and the author of, "Windmill Networking: Maximizing LinkedIn," gave me the best piece of advice as step number one.

Start conversations and don't try to sell anyone anything. Let people get to know you, and over time build relationships so that when you do have something to sell there's already a marketplace.

The people who follow you on Twitter are like your own small town, and like anyone who has lived in a small town like I did for years, back in Richmond, Va., you don't sell anything to anyone until they get to know you.

Neal had a few more tips to get started and as the months go on, I'll keep coming back with more advice from him and a host of others. "The best way to start on Twitter is, instead of searching on Google for information try a Twitter search and follow some of the links.

Create an objective and figure which site is going to help you reach your objective," said Neal. "Twitter is fascinating because it's quickly becoming a real time newsfeed, happening around the world covering any given subject."

Here's another bit of wisdom from me that was told to me repeatedly by others. Have fun with all of it. Keep to the topics that you know and love or want to get to know better.

Ask questions and be willing to offer credible information, limit the amount of time and keep a sense of humor handy. If you're not having fun, it's time to go outside and hang with some friends you could describe by more than their avatars.

Tweet me @MarthaRandolph and let me know about your Twitter adventures. More adventures to follow, www.martharandolphcarr.com.

Martha's column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc., newspaper syndicate. E-mail her at Martha@caglecartoons.com.