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With a cumulative clout that extends to nearly 20,000 followers, three initiatives on Twitter encourage exchange, exploration and interaction.

india Updated: May 13, 2013 18:13 IST
Sneha Mahale
Sneha Mahale
Hindustan Times
Twitter,Vivek Tejuja,Swapping Project

It started out as a way to express oneself in 140 characters or less. But Twitter has now become a platform for tweeple to meet up, share and exchange notes and interact with other like-minded individuals virtually. From hashtag discussions on movies, books, travel, food and gadgets to starting initiatives that encourage interaction, there’s something new happening in the Twitterverse daily.

"Twitter is a no-nonsense medium. People use it in all sorts of ways. Some come online to share their world view, some attack it, some use it for fundraising, and then there are those who use it to showcase their artwork, crowd-source poetry...the list goes on. As long as you are engaging, lively and keep it real, the sky is the limit," says @cyclingsultan, who’d rather be known by his Twitter handle than his real name. He organises tweet walks/cycling tours that help people explore historical spots virtually.

And not just the followers, who cumulatively touch nearly 20,000, the founders of these initiatives take themselves seriously too. WeAreHindustan was launched in January 2013, and picks a new curator every week to encourage interaction among tweeple from a city in India. A team member says, “Our selection process is simple. We ask people to tell us who they’d like to see as the curator for the week. The top recommendations are then interviewed about what they do, what they plan to do using the account.” And apart from weekly curators, it isn’t unusual to have one-day discussions on the ongoing T20 tournament or the budget.

For Vivek Tejuja, who recently started the Swapping Project that encourages people to swap books with strangers, controlling the crowd isn’t an issue. He says, “They do not attempt to troll and spam. Moreover, where the question of identity revelation happens, they do not participate.” However, he does add that there is no defined method for a project to succeed. Tejuja adds, “It happens only if the project is good. Otherwise, it will fall flat on its face.”

Swapping Project
Gets tweeple to:
Exchange books with strangers.
Started by: @vivekisms (Vivek Tejuja)
The project, started last month, has a simple plan of action — getting people to swap books with each other. People sign up for it by contacting Tejuja and sending their postal address. It is passed on to someone else who will send the person a book. In turn, the person has to send the book to another. Around 25 people have already signed up. Tejuja says, “Twitter is the next best thing after the Internet to allow people who think the same
way to come together. A lot of initiatives are seen that get people together. Some work. Some do not.”

Cycling tours
Gets tweeple to:
Learn about India’s history.
Started by: @cyclingsultan
“Tweet-walks or cycling tours started when I first began going around Delhi exploring its history,” says the man who’d like to be known by his Twitter handle, @cyclingsultan. That’s when he realised that folks on Twitter were enjoying these tours as they were vicariously exploring places through him. He adds, “Many promptly me to see something, or give an additional piece of history or share something that resonates with them, which I retweet, and that’s how it becomes more interesting. In a sense, it is a walk with a large bunch of people and everyone is telling you something or asking you something about the place.”

Explore India
Gets tweeple to:
Explore every nook and corner of the country with the help of weekly curators from that area.
Started by: @WeAreHindustan
The idea for this account came out of a simple tweet, where one person said that there should be an account where Indians can talk to people about India. “We needed a platform to promote India as a nation,” says a member of WeAreHindustan, saying that they’d rather be identified as a team than individuals. A team of administrators from different parts of India own the account jointly. Every week, they choose a different curator from a different city or town of India. He/she comes and uses the account as a base to promote his/her city and spread awareness about it.

First Published: May 08, 2013 12:05 IST