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In short

If you use Twitter, or if you are keen to be flooded with lots of information, read on (about advanced prostate cancer, but works equally well for any subject you are interested in).

If not, you can safely ignore the rest of this post and move on.


Though Twitter can be used on a computer, it is most at home on a mobile phone. Twitter users typically have their mobile phone with them all day, and the Twitter messages (Tweets) pop up on the screen all day as they arrive.

A Tweet is a small message which can only be one hundred and sixty characters long, shorter than this sentence, so it cannot contain a great deal of information. Twitter applications (programs) help this by shortening any web address to twenty characters.

Twitter users help by brevity and abbreviations (like LOL – laughing out loud, ROFL - rolling on the floor laughing), dropping punctuation like apostrophes (johns book etc), and conventions [CAPITALS mean yelling, a colon followed by a left or right bracket means sad or happy :(:) which your email or Twitter application may, or may not, turn automatically to sad or happy faces.]

Twitter is free to download from Twitter.com. It is also available on all mobile phones. I use the application from Twitter.com on my PC, and Tweetbot (good if you have more than one Twitter name) on my iPhone and iPad. I do not configure the Twitter applications to do immediate notifications like the young ones do – I only check them when it suits me.

You will not get anything from anyone on Twitter until you Follow someone. Then you will get everything that person tweets. You find them initially by using the search in your Twitter application. If other people are interested enough in your tweets, they may follow you. They most usually find you because other people they follow regularly repost your tweets that they find interesting to their followers (retweeting).

Your children or grandchildren, who will have mostly abandoned old style email, may tweet many times a day, with important news like 'Damn. Monday again' and 'Broncos last try was brill'. Some experts will stick closely to links to web pages with professional items. Others will mix the two.

At the end of March I created a new Twitter name (JimJimJimJimCom) to separate my prostate cancer tweets from my personal ones. If you are interested, you may see my tweets for the past week (if there have been any) at http://www.twinitor.com/ by entering JimJimJimJimCom (no spaces or dots in my Twitter name) in the search box.

My tweets as JimJimJimJimCom, while primarily limited to advanced prostate cancer, are aimed at a more sophisticated audience: people quite aware of both prostate cancer issues and research issues. In 160 words there are not much space to add warnings or simplifications. So, for instance, I recently retweeted a story which suggests some link between oral bisphonates, especially alendronate (Fosamax) and esophageal cancer. If I posted that to our website, I would point out that this is just a report to a conference, and not a contribution to a peer reviewed journal that other researchers and professionals have had a chance to assess. With this light level of evidence, and the low numbers reported since 1995, members who discuss this with their doctors should not be surprised if they do not wish to change the type of bisphosphonate used. In fact, given the light evidence and low numbers I would likely not post this to the website at this stage to avoid unnecessary alarm.

I also tweet a few things just likely to amuse or make you think, like the retweet I made today of the 3 year old child of a Melbourne surgeon using the Surgery robot at his dad's work.

from @declangmurphy.

Followers of the new group on Twitter already include leaders of other support groups in Canada, USA and Wales, a Urologist, and a prostate cancer nurse. If you wish to follow, download a Twitter application, search for JimJimJimJimCom, click on my picture or name and find the Follow button. Unfollowing is just as simple.

As I said above, you may not be interested in an information flood on advanced prostate cancer, but if you are very keen on motorbikes, a footy team, politics, ... whatever, there are Twitter people you can follow on that, and get the very latest news.

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