Serious Twittering

This post's title may sound like an oxymoron to you. I have not been a fan of Twitter as a social tool, and even less enthusiastic about its use in educational settings. But it has been difficult to avoid hearing about Twitter the past week and its connection to the recent lection in Iran.

Back in 1999, many of us would have been getting that news from TV during their scheduled programs, or from places like the New York Times in an edition a day later.
Add five years, and many people would get it from “ traditional media” websites like CNN or the Times.
This month, it started with Twitter, YouTube, Wikipedia and other Web 2.0 or social network tools.

Leo Laporte commented that he got the first news from Twitter on the weekend and he conditionally turned on the TV to CNN, Fox and other channels and found reruns of their programming. Where was the breaking news? Why didn't CNN - a "24 hour" news channel - immediately have reports from its reporters in that area of the world? And, the first reports they made were using information from Twitter posts with many of those coming from eyewitnesses.

As of today, there are both continuing attempts by the Iranian government to shut down these social tools and mobile calls, AND there are attempts by the world community to thwart the government attempts. I have received numerous tweets asking me to change my own profile information (make my location and timezone to Tehran) to overload the government's attempts to track posters. (I don't know if this was actually something that would work.)

You can follow this issue by looking at the "hashtags" like #IranElection if you are a Twitter member.

I have tried that kind of tracking before. For example, when the Angel conference came right after they were bought by Blackboard, I discovered by a search the tags for #auc09 and #bbplusangel, but the conversations I found were unsatisfying in providing any really useful about the events and news. I did find in the days that followed much more thoughtful blog posts about the event.

It's one reason why I don't see traditional journalism dying even if many of the traditional old media institutions do die. We will still need trained and trusted writers to give us information that is researched and edited. Yes, the reporter on the scene may be shooting video and posting to Twitter on her smartphone first, but then I want her to sit down and write a more detailed account.

So, I give in. Twitter is making a difference. Maybe the tool that really works will not actually be Twitter, but some new tool that owes its life to Twitter. Maybe the attention to Twitter has been overdone. The protests would have occurred without social networks, but not in the same way.

A few Twitterish links

If I am interested in marketing myself, my school or business, would I want to be a "featured" user to get more Twitter followers, support Twitter application developers, and gain brand exposure?

There are plenty of Twitter related apps like EasyTweets. TweetDeck is an Adobe AIR desktop application that increases the functionality of Twitter.

Of course, you need to create a Twitter account is a place to create and follow groups on Twitter. For example, I am following a higher education group there as an experiment.

Here is a comparison of enterprise micro-sharing tools

Jane Hart’s website includes a directory of learning professionals registered on Twitter.

You can lurk and search and view what is going on in Twitter without registering. is a  private micro-blogging platform for teachers and students.


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