12+ Gems of the Pacific Northwest Coast (Plus: 200 Tweets – My Thoughts on Practical Twitter Use)


The unbelievable Oregon coastline. (Photo: liquidskyarts)

Six weeks ago I conducted my first social media travel experiment. I posed a simple question and let your responses to me on Twitter and this blog dictate exactly what I did on a 12-day roadtrip with my brother from San Francisco to Vancouver, Canada.

No packing or planning was done before jumping in the car (the best proof of this: I needed a friend to FedEx my passport to Seattle so I could get into Canada).

I’d done the trip from SF to Mexico several times, often meticulously planned, and this trip — my first up through the northwest coast — was both more fun and less stressful. Here is the progression of my “tweets” (Twitter entries), beginning with the first question…

Off Wed. on a road trip with my bro from SF to Portland, Seattle, then Vancouver. What are your top B&B and must-see picks? B&B rec’s pls! 02:26 AM June 17, 2008

Day 1: SF to Eureka. 101N to lunch at Ukiah Brewing Co., then Avenue of Giants, to Eureka, dinner at Lost Coast Brewery, bed @ dalyinn.com 11:25 AM June 19, 2008

Day 2: to Eugene. Samoa Cookhouse snipurl.com/2ltjq , 500 ft dunes that inspired ‘Dune’ snipurl.com/2ltkx, and sleep @ The Campbell House 10:12 AM June 20, 2008

Day 3-Portland: Powell’s Books, btl of Pinot @ Vino Paradiso (1/2 off @ happy hr), dinner @ Jake’s Famous Crawfish (top-10 seafood in US). 12:55 PM June 21, 2008

Day 4-Portland: woke @ 12, Voodoo Doughnut feast, Saturday Market, rose garden @ Forest Park, movie @ Kennedy School, finish w/ Vault Martini. 02:08 AM June 22, 2008

Voodoo Doughnut’s delicious Maple Bacon doughnut and meth-high-inducing Grape Ape doughnut.

Day 5-to/in Seattle: stop @ bridge of glass http://snipurl.com/2o8ub, amazing espresso @ vivace (espressovivace.com), and dinner at Kells. 01:03 PM June 24, 2008

Day 6-Seattle: lunch @ Cutters, ‘Mongol’ @ the Egyptian Theater, KICK-ASS Remedy Tea (200+ teas) for night cap. Get the ginger/matcha shot. 09:08 PM June 24, 2008

Day 7-Seattle: presented to CIA (no joke), Underground Tour (undergroundtour.com), amazing crab cakes at Etta’s, reading Zorba The Greek… 07:44 PM June 25, 2008

Day 8-to Vancouver: Zoka coffee testing, Seattle (zokacoffee.com); drive up I-5/99 to Vancouver; sushi & sashimi at ‘Asahi-ya’ 1230 Robson. 11:00 AM June 26, 2008

Any recs for vancouver meetup spots and sleeping? Must do’s? 04:36 PM June 26, 2008

Day 9-Vancouver: Stanley Park (incl. totems), best comic/anime exhibit ever (http://snipurl.com/2pps8), amazing Malaysian @ The Banana Leaf 11:21 PM June 26, 2008

Day 10-Whistler BC: excellent hiking to Joffrey Lakes, saw black bear on hillside, incredible pizza in Pemberton at http://ponyespresso.ca/ 10:54 AM June 29, 2008

(Photo: ucumari)

Day 11-Vancouver: Lamb popsicles @ Vij’s, Sauv Blanc fr Alsace, hanging w/ Cameron Herold (http://snipurl.com/2r5gd), + Wall-E… AWESOME. 02:16 PM June 29, 2008

Day 12-Fly Seattle to SF for $98 on Alaskan; ship car from Seattle to SF for $640 www.ableautotransport.com = $ than hotels and gas 09:44 PM June 30, 2008


Links above, when not written out using shorthand from SnipURL, were added for this blog post.

200 Tweets – My Thoughts on Practical (vs. Addictive) Uses of Twitter

I don’t follow anyone on Twitter. To some, this is sacrilege.

Let me explain the main reason of several that I don’t follow people:

Imagine that you send an email to 10 people inviting them to a party, but you BCC 100 more casual friends who are uninvited. How will those 100 feel? Offended and somewhat resentful, just as I would.

Twitter is like this: all followers and followees are transparent. I can’t follow a single person without risking irritating hundreds. This problem is the same for someone who has 40 followers as it is for someone with 40,000. I avoid the drama and politics by following no one. I do this because I don’t care to be a hypocrite (low-information diet, etc.) and do care about my followers, not because I’m uninterested in them. I track some of my followers regularly but don’t “follow” in the formal sense.

I “follow” my close friends via food, wine, texting, and — for old classmates — Facebook.

Here are several quotes about Twitter relevant to my 3 personal rules of Twitter use:

“Twitter is a community. It’s not all about you. Engage your peers by asking them questions”
Micki Krimmel, video blogger and host of Mickipedia

“Don’t try to impress–just be yourself. But go a little beyond your comfort zone; share something you’re hesitant about sharing.”
Evan Williams, co-founder of Obvious, which created Twitter

[my panel interview with Evan here]

Here are my 3 basic “Twittiquette” rules of using Twitter:

1. Add value if you consume attention.

I use Twitter as a “micro-blogging” platform, exactly how it’s most often described. Just as I wouldn’t put up a blog post that reads “just ate a burrito. Mmmm… good,” as it consumes readers valuable attention without adding value, I wouldn’t put up such a post on Twitter. On the other hand, “Just had an incredible mahi-mahi burrito at [best unknown taco stand] in San Diego. Must-eat: http://www.website.com In NYC, try: http://www.website2.com”; adds value with actionable details. Mundane perhaps, but still a cool “to-do” that ethnic food lovers can tuck in the back of their heads.

Some self-indulgent tweets are fine, but make sure 90%+ help or entertain your readers somehow. Information empty calories are parasitic.

2. Use the tool for its best purposes and ignore the rest.

Use a tool for what its best suited to do. Don’t make a Swiss army knife out of every social media tool or you’ll end up with nothing but overwhelm, passive-aggressive “friends,” and a dozen separate inboxes.

I use the blog for testing ideas/campaigns/memes, catalyzing social change, and introducing more developed concepts so I can watch and track their impact and evolution in the blogosphere.

I use Twitter to broadcast time-sensitive suggestions, questions, events, random facts, and happenings, and other ideas that don’t justify an independent blog post. I don’t want another IM program.

I hate page view-driven sites that force features on users in the quest for more clicks. 500+ unread messages on Facebook? 600+ unread requests on LinkedIn? That’s what e-mail is for.

3. Linking is fundamental to adding value.

Twitter is perfect for honing your word economy and value-to-attention contribution: offer a brief takeaway and quicks links to more resources for those interested. Minimal attention impact for the uninterested with gateways to more goodies. Here are a few recent examples.


Thanks to all for the killer suggestions for my trip! Much crazier stuff coming if you want to follow me here.

Posted on: July 30, 2008.

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122 comments on “12+ Gems of the Pacific Northwest Coast (Plus: 200 Tweets – My Thoughts on Practical Twitter Use)

  1. Great timing on the post, I’m starting to feel overwhelm with Twitter. I do enjoy posting on it occasionally. I met an awesome colleague there that has been supportive of my site with content ideas.


  2. How does somebody actually get in touch with you. I sent an email to lisa or whichever girl’s email address is on your contact form 3 days ago…

    Great post anyway, I always wondered why you didn’t actually follow anyone, although I don’t think that is a great use of the service.


    Hi Glen,

    It’s quite hard to get a hold of me :) I’ll check with Amy, but a response in a week — if non-urgent — would be reasonable. Try e-mailing anyone who gets 100s per day and you’ll see what I mean.

    I’ll check up on it.

    All the best,



  3. Thanks for the Twitter advice. Literally set it up on my iPhone yesterday and was trying to determine how the latest (sort of) thing was any better than texting or Facebook etc. I will definitely add more value and from early on now because of your advice.


  4. Hey Tim. Great thoughts on Twitter. I would like to add this, however. Twitter is absolutely terrific at exposing new bloggers and socials media types, like me, to different communities and events I would never have known about had I not been “following” anyone. Additionally, it is the best “advertisement” I have for my blog. When I write a new post, I Tweet “New Post” with the link and immediately get 50 clicks. It gives me leverage in the infinite universe of the WWW.

    Additionally, here in Columbus, OH we have monthly “Tweetups,” where all the “Tweeps” meetup for lunch face to face. The people involved in this are very interested in improving the community through social media (ie tweet about events in the community, charity functions, etc.) As such, Twitter has facilitated a powerful group of people interested in improving our city.

    Great thoughts though. I just wanted to establish a difference between you (someone who can generate plenty of followers without “following” yourself), and an average “Tweep” (like me).


  5. Hey Tim,
    Great post on the use of Twitter. Have a great story for you. We were filming our Jet Set Life show in Mykonos last week at an overnight sunrise party (at Cavo Paradiso) and we met a great girl that came over to us and said “hey I think I follow you guys on my Twitter”. Serendipity!


  6. I follow you on Twitter Tim, and I find your updates to be exactly as you say – suggestions, questions and/or events that aren’t mundane. I like how you distinguished the ideal uses of each outlet. This clarity helped me make some clearer lines between a few of the platforms I’m using.

    So, I just finished reading your entire blog (plus the old one)! It took a good 2 days. I made 7 pages of notes and highlighted where questions came up. For most of them, I found the answer in the forums. But, here are two that are outstanding. Can you shed some light?

    1. Owning a home: It sounds like you own a home in SanFran? With all the traveling you do, does it make sense to have a “home base” that you own? Do you try to rent it out when you leave for extended periods?

    2. Language: How long do you think a language can stay “dormant” without totally digressing to square 1? You write a lot about refreshing a language and I’m wondering how long you’ve left a language entirely but succeeded in reviving it on demand (with a little practice).

    Thanks Tim!


  7. I pretty much agree with your twitter view. I started following a lot of people, that got overwhelming, then decided the best use was to follow only leaders in my niche so I don’t have to visit their blogs (most people update their blog posts on twitter) I found a plugin that updates my blog for me. Now I’ve decided to research & develop Social Network Integration techniques for people lost in the Social Network woods. Rage on


  8. Great stuff as always Tim. I’ve avoided Twitter thus far, but I think even for a few back links it’s probably worth it if used as you describe. As with any tool, content is king.


  9. Love it!

    Posted this on the thirtydaychallenge.com forum since the 30dc this year (starting in a few days!) is apparently going to rely heavily on twitter.

    I figured twitter as a concept would be completely at odds with the Low Information Diet, although as you’ve pointed out, if you don’t follow people on twitter, you don’t get overwhelmed with it.. but I’ll be interested to see how it all fits together.


  10. I like the intent of your Twittiquettes. I think they give structure to how you use Twitter and social media in general; however, I think the strength of social media is that it allows for unfiltered expression. Sure, posting anything and everything in Twitter creates a lot of noise, but that is exactly why I choose to follow some people and not others.

    So, while I agree with your Twittiquettes and hope to apply them to my own approach to posting, I think they are a personal approach and should not limit people from posting whatever they want. Who knows? maybe we are yet to experience a new way of using Twitter.


  11. great post,…I was just talking the other day with someone about the potential benefits of adding twitter to my lifestyle. I haven’t bit yet. This gives me a few ideas,….especially the posting that you have posted a blog,…..it is a challenge to decide what media/social tool to implement and what will just clutter. Thanks Tim.


  12. Tim, I noticed this tweet:

    “Signing docs to sell my house in San Jose and looking forward to the Mashable party tonight in SF… 01:20 PM July 15, 2008 from web”

    Are you taking your global arbitrage lifestyle full-time or simply moving to a different house?


  13. Your reasons for limiting your use of twitter is exactly why I haven’t yet dived into it. I’m not sure what value I can in my tweets and not sure I have time to follow others.

    In September I plan to explore it more.


  14. My thoughts on Twitter:

    Great concept with awesome potential. But this tool is not for everyone and with the mass amounts of social sites out there one may consider a few good ones to participate in. Oddly enough, I joined CouchSurfing and get more out of that site than Facebook or Myspace.

    Enjoy the City



  15. Yeah, I get these kind of emails all the time…

    “Why don’t you follow me on Twitter”.

    It’s kind of lame because I have over 1200 followers, but only follow about 30 of my close friends. I could never possibly keep up with more then that. Nor would I really care to in my busy world of Xbox 360, surfing, and the occasional IM stuff.

    I know some people feel slighted, or jipped because I don’t follow them.

    It’s really nothing personal. If I knew you were a kick ass Twitter poster, I’d consider it. But the truth is, I really don’t care about reading… “I just watched Facts Of Life reruns again. Natalie is so hot!”.

    Know what I’m saying?




  16. I too have found Twitter time consuming but I do often get traffic from it. Mostly, when I can sort of straddle the line between thought provoking personality exposing to useful links that lead to interesting conversation. Not that interested in some of what you characterize as the time wasters. When it forwards a persona, ok (I like your style of mentioning interesting food in interesting places, for example) but when it doesn’t seem relevant at all like “I feel mad” with no URL. Who cares? I’d respond more to “Prejudice and Injustice gets me steamed. See why at http://www.myplace“.

    Re: followers. I love people to follow me (I am especially curious as to how and why they found me) but I don’t follow everyone who follows me, mainly if the tone and substance of their profile and URL doesn’t fit my preferences. I have to see their postings so I like it to be stuff I want to see.

    Together, we are stronger.
    Vicki Flaugher, the original SmartWoman


  17. i guess i’m the exact opposite when it comes to twitter use – although my extreme is also quite practical for me.

    i follow everyone i know in real life, on twitter. i also post random things about my day (okay, not “just bit into a muffin…mmmmm!!!”), but things like what i’m doing, what i’m feeling, an observation, a thought that someone might appreciate…it goes on. most of my friends (with a few irritating exceptions) also do the same. that way, i’m always in touch, without actively being in conversation with everyone. if someone’s having a bad day, or if i have something to say that won’t fit 140 chars, i pick up the phone and call/text. i dislike links because they force me to fire up my phone’s browser (or leave whatever’s already on it) to complete the picture of what my friend wanted to say.

    twitter is different from phone or text or im, because it’s a sort of selective broadcast. it’s also more timely than a blog. twitter is also not the sort of medium where i’d post something i’d want to recall a month from now. that’s going straight to my blog.

    twitter helps me stay in touch with friends who might have otherwise drifted apart due to geographical/time zone distance. compared to the friends who aren’t on it, the contrast is stark enough to be black and white – if a friend lives in another city and isn’t on twitter, it’s almost guaranteed that we’ll be out of touch in a few months :D