My friends and family often ask me about my Twitter account which is frequently filled with web development specific comments like this:

For the majority of people who are not familiar with npm or the work of Sindre Sorhus, don’t worry. You are not expected to get it. Tweets like this are not directed at the general public but rather at a specific software developer who has done a lot of work for the JavaScript community. While Twitter is a vast community, it was the chatter of unique communities within the Twitterverse that ultimately pulled me in.

For many years I didn’t see the point of Twitter. Facebook had done a good job of adding features to make Twitter technically unnecessary. Facebook allows public posts and allows you to follow people without friending them. So from my perspective, if I wanted to let the world what I was eating for lunch I could just post it on Facebook. But social groups have different cultures and Facebook had already developed a reputation for close-knit private sharing.

Meanwhile, the more I dove into front-end web development, the more references I saw to conversations on Twitter by high-profile developers. Blog posts frequently referred to recommendations or controversies that were being discussed 140 characters at a time. It was this active community of developers sharing ideas in an informal medium that really intrigued me.

So I created an account. At first, I just followed other people. It was really interesting to see the topics that other software developers were discussing. At the time I was the only frontend developers on my team and wasn’t connected with people who were trying out technologies like Webpack, so hearing the experiences of other developers was valuable to me.

As time went on, I became more comfortable and started engaging more with the platform. Attending ng-conf was a turning point for me because almost all of the speakers were using their Twitter account as their public profile. I began to see more how the platform provided an opportunity to engage with leaders in the community.

Following ng-conf I started connecting more with developers through Twitter. Sometimes it was simply re-tweeting a post I thought deserved more attention (even if I signaled Twitter’s algorithms more than the few followers I had). But other times I asked questions of people in the web development community I would not have normally contacted. In this way Twitter has opened up a world of professional advice and information.

Since joining Twitter, I’ve expanded my use to include sharing interesting links or sending feedback to the public relations employees of companies I’ve interacted with. However, I still see Twitter as a professional tool. It offers the opportunity to glean from software developers who care about improving the web platform. These individuals fill a mentorship role that isn’t always readily available within work organizations and provide an outside perspective that has helped me make decisions at work.

Twitter is a great way to tap into public conversations. Occasionally I add my voice but there are a lot of conversations going on that don’t matter to me. As a web developer, I have found a niche where I feel comfortable. In this space, Twitter has become a great resource to learn more about industry standards and where the software community is headed. So while many might be confused by what I share, I want to continue to engage with the part of Twitter that has helped me to grow as a software engineer.

If you 'd like to see what programmers I follow, check out my web developers list on Twitter.