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Soil Conservation Group Tries Twitter

Leaders embrace new technology if it gets the message out.

First there were cell phones. Actually, first came car phones, meant mainly for safety and for the opportunity to contact loved ones in case of trouble. That was my first exposure to cell phones- an old bag phone that I soon outgrew. It's shoved away in a closet somewhere, and could likely qualify for a technology museum, even though it was new and exciting in the early '90s.

Next came personal cell phones. What a novelty I thought it was when a saw a neighbor at a farm auction using one to talk about whether or bid to not with someone at home. Next came email, a technology I still find useful.

Today the rage amongst teenagers is texting messages on their cell phone. Say email someone to a teenager and you'll get a blank look. They're liable to say, "Don't you mean text someone?"

Then there were iPods, iPhones, My Space and of course Facebook. I can proudly say I have never been on Facebook once, never want to be, and am not completely sure what teenagers mean when they talk about 'writing on someone's wall.' So imagine my incredulous attitude when I heard something about 'Twitter.'

Still not knowing exactly what it is, I know enough to realize it's the current rage in communications, especially amongst young people. So maybe it's not a big surprise that even the Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, a traditionally conservative organization, is venturing into 'Twitter.' Information about the current Soil Stewardship Week underway now is available on Twitter, notes Jennifer Boyle, Executive Director of IASWCD.

"Twitter is a free service for friends, family and co-workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to a simple question such as 'What are you doing?'" Boyle explains. In fact, messages written on it are called Tweets.' Top length for Twitter messages are 140 characters. They are then displayed on the user's profiled page and delivered to others who have subscribed to them.

Soil and Water Conservation Districts can't access Twitter through computers in USDA service centers. Apparently the government isn't quite ready for this new technology yet either.

You can find IASWCD at: twitter.com/IASWCD. "It's a new social media tool," Boyle notes. "We'll see how we do."

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