Twitter started with the desire of a young software engineer named Jack Dorsey to know what his friends were doing in real time. Wondering if a platform could be built around the concept of a simple status update, Jack decided to present the idea to his colleagues at Obvious
. Shortly thereafter, the company decided to build a prototype. Following a successful launch in August 2006, the service quickly grew, resulting in the founding of Twitter Incorporated in May 2007. What makes Twitter unique?
Twitter is considered a microblogging site, so unlike other social networking sites, which have complex interfaces that allow customization and a multitude of other functionalities and applications, Twitter really only wants to know one thing: “What are you doing?” You can answer this question as often or as little as desired once you set up your account (see “Signing up” on page 20), which is free, but your response each time can be no more than 140 characters. In the Twitter world, where short and sweet is the motto, these microblogs are referred to as “tweets.”
As with other networking sites, you can search for friends, relatives, colleagues, groups, and organizations. Many mainstream news outlets and reputable societies have a presence on Twitter (see “Conference coverage” and “News” on pages 18 and 20, respectively), so it is not just for those who wish to know what some of their favorite celebrities are up to at the moment. Once you find individuals or entities you wish to receive updates from, you simply click a button to start following them; unlike with other sites, they will not need to approve you first, but they will be notified that you have started following them, just as you will be notified when someone starts following you. If you feel uncomfortable with someone receiving your updates, you can block them. You can also keep your updates and profile private, but this information will be public until you adjust your settings, so as with any public site, it is prudent not to post something you would prefer to keep private or may later regret posting.
While the idea of following numerous individuals and/or organizations in real time may seem like a time-consuming and daunting endeavor, how much attention you devote is entirely up to you. There are also scheduling settings that you can employ to control when you receive updates on your phone, instant messenger, or Twitter home page. So, if you do not want to receive updates while you are working, you can set your account accordingly.5 ways oncologists can benefit from twittering
While Twitter has been criticized by many for the multitude of useless and banal updates that its members post, there are actually many ways you can make intelligent use of this service. You can use it to obtain job leads, receive the latest conference coverage, connect with other physicians and industry leaders, and as another source for oncology news. You can also establish an account for your practice and use it to provide your patients with important general information. Let’s examine each of these 5 uses in detail.1
Several job sites have a presence on Twitter. Two of the most applicable to physicians are GetPhysicianJobs.com
. Both of these entities also have an RSS feed that you can subscribe to, as is the case with many organizations on Twitter.
Additional job postings can be found by doing a general search, such as by entering “oncology jobs” or “physician jobs” into the general search field (not the “Find People” field, which often requires specific names before it will yield results); you can access this general search field by clicking “Search” at the very bottom of any Twitter page. A general search may bring up relevant postings from specific institutions looking to fill a position or other relevant news, such as a tweet about programs being implemented to help fill vacant positions at a particular institution. While certain tweets may not provide a direct job opportunity, they may serve as an indirect job lead if you do some additional investigating.
Once you have other individuals following you, another way to find a lead is through your own tweets; you can simply ask if anyone knows of any opportunities. However, unless your information is made private, it will be available for all to see. If you do not want to risk your employer or anyone else catching wind of your job hunt, you may be better off contacting relevant individuals privately.2