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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Consider Twitter

I've been on Twitter since 2007 when I saw David Warlick presenting it at an educational conference. For quite a while, I was an evangelist, trying to explain it to various people, following lots of forward thinking educators, making it a demo during presentations I've given. It would go like this - I'd send out a tweet while everyone watched:

"Please reply to this group of educators from XXX and tell us where you're from and what Twitter means to you!"

And we would watch as various "tweeple" would reply e.g.:

"Sam XXX from London - Twitter keeps me connected..."
"Joan XXX from Cleveland - when Twitter runs in the background my PLN is always there..."
"Jeff XXX from NJ - Twitter is intelligent cocktail chatter for educators ..."

Above were made up but you get the idea. It was thrilling to think of all these people communicating synchronously in 140 character bytes of pithy conversation, adding to our shared knowledge and ideas, enriching us all. And that, in a nutshell, is what I like the most about Twitter.

The things I don't like about Twitter:
  • Being followed by spammers
  • Seeing yet another "making PB&J sandwich for my son" style comments - IF this is the only feed from this person - some PB&J is fine with me so long as it's mixed with intelligent ideas, contributions, links, educational ideas, etc.
The PB&J comment makes sense when you remember that the essential Twitter question is "What are you doing right now?" However, I am hoping the people I follow are often expanding that question to "what am I reading/writing/creating/pondering/linking to/reflecting on right now?"

The negatives bulleted above are not a long enough list for me to quit Twitter, however. The benefits right now are greater than the downsides especially when I have a chance to consider everyone I follow to make sure they're involved with the latter question above.

I told my daughter I was thinking about Twitter lately. She said she wasn't surprised. I'd shown her Twitter back in 2007 and sent out a tweet and we watched for a while. The tweet was not a question, just a statement. She said "awwww, they don't answer." She said she wasn't surprised now because in her words "there's no center." There's no one place to go, no extension of the 140 characters, no central community.

We live in really interesting times don't we. Community is all over the place in various forms but there's no one place at all, there's no center, for almost all of us.

I'm staying with Twitter for now but bouncing in and out as needed. It's worth it because of the good stuff and I'll take some time to mediate the other stuff.


Lauren Milstid said...

Hi Pamela,

When you were my graduate instructor, you taught me the value of Twitter from a different perspective than what I had previously known Twitter to be (the PB&J comments). So, I've made the decision to strictly use Twitter as a learning tool, and save Facebook for the friend tool.

I have only 2 issues with Twitter:

1. Not enough time in the week to catch up with tweets. So, I miss out on many posts, but that is my personal decision.

2. The individuals who post too many tweets. I start ignoring those people as opposed to the ones who tweet occasionally, yet have the best things to say.

Pamela Livingston said...

Lauren, thanks for your comment. Yes, we had viewed it as a learning tool although some in that class and other classes had varying experiences - some really took to it, some found like you it takes a long time to catch up. I am glad you stay on Twitter, wondering if others from your class and other classes do.

Michael Werner said...

Hi Pamela. Just found your blog; good stuff. Wondering if you have or know of any teachers using Twitter in or as part of a classroom experience.


Chris Smith said...

Some Twitter information for Educators can also be found at

Pamela Livingston said...

Thanks, Michael, for your comment. Actually Chris Smith, who has created the excellent resource has sent a link in his comment. He always finds the best stuff so I think there will be some interesting things for you to consider.