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This Twittering Life

This Twittering Life
An analysis of the hype (before we educate with it)


A few Internet years ago, we started blogging our mind away. And it was a revolution. Take a picture of your mind, your thoughts, then publish -let the world react
over it. As part of the blogging process, you adjust the lens focus, let RSS nudge you with otherness and its stream of consciousness, you jazz it all up in Flickr and blog on.

All in all, a far less time consuming experience than waiting
for a publisher to give you a chance. Actually, you do not want a sense of finished book permeating your posts, you want conversation. (Come to think of it, who wants a publisher today anyway...).

Twitter comes into the picture
http://twitter.com
A new turn of Web 2.0? Not sure, but suddenly, we want the instant to be published.
Twitter allows to blog time itself. Briefly, of course. Not everyone has something to blog about and not every thought deserves more than 140 characters. Conversely, Web 2.0 reading needs require you that keep it short. Who can read more than 140 characters without an interruption? Even when there are no links, your own eyes soon get scanning the page.

Time and ideas to blog are a commodity. The mere moment and the instant call for a microblogging of their own as well. And they call it revolution. Perhaps with reason. We'll see.

Trivial topics

In the twitterment seach engine, the tags of topics include food, going to sleep, the weather and places. It does make the life of a blogger seem more real when you read those posts. It's a kind of peeping into your life, a Big Brother for the blogger?


Thus it creates a sense of sharing the intimacy of the blogger; lets say, the blogging context or conditions. Spying on them, but not interrupting them. Not sharing the thoughts in your brain, but rather how your neurons talk to each other to produce the post: what you are reading, what your friends are reading.

Can this create a new conversation pulse, pace or rhythm? For example, l
et us all write at the same time or stop to eat at the same time. Does it add a sense of togetherness in the loneliness of the blogger's posting time?

At a Twittering distance...

A single person who blogs creates conversations among blogs. If we go beyond the individual, what all those twitters together amount to? Do they render a new twittersphere. Collectively, what do they mean?

They are making it all more complex and sophisticated to read meaning . On the surface, it's as if you published your customised online status in your msn. Yet, this is absolutely different.

What brings twitters together (the human ones, that is)
What do twitters want? If blogging is a shared thought, and twittering is sharing the very instant you are in... I guess that twitters long for a closer proximity than blogs can afford. It is not thought, but action or impressions that you get from mes
sages.
Blogs are a present perfect, but twitter is a present continuous or -when read after the instant has elapsed- an eternal present.

No Trespassing
And there is communication to think about. In Twitter you simply tell the 'what' and the 'where'. Twitters are not messages or posts that require any answer. The tool does not foster it, at least. A twitter is just that, no invasive technology

Yet it is social, you can direct people to find or read others. You can make fr
iends and subscribe to them. I am not sure if there is a good way of searching who is there. A directory of sorts. Perhaps there isn't any as part of the non intrusive aspect, you just get to know people just as you do when exchanging your msn (unless you publish it in your blog as I do in my links).

The Twitter Lesson
Whether Twitter makes a turning point in web history or not is none of my concern. What matters to me is:
  • What is it about Twitter that allows for its viral spread fashion?
  • What gives us that certainty that we are probably facing a Web2.1 tip of the iceberg?
My point is not a marketing one. My point is understanding the Web and its direction before I can think of ways of integrating new tools to my lessons.

I cannot forget I am a teacher. In teaching, particularly in ELT teaching, I notice a tendency to use Web 2.0 tools directed to students for age old teaching needs, which may have originated in
  • students
  • teachers
  • institutions
But how the world is changing, how the landscape of the educational needs of the future is shaping seems to be, for the most part, ignored by ELT teachers. I like to think about the nature of the tools and what they enable before imposing my grid on them. I always think that if we are poor bloggers, one day one of our students will laugh at such a ridiculous use of a blog. Students tend to be far ahead of teachers in technical aspects. I think the day when they make sense of all this new web better than us is not far ahead.

Learning from Twitter

Before rushing to be the first ones to use this tool for education, what can we learn from Twitter? What have they done so right? Are there principles we can apply to our own blog and wiki designs?

Yes, I think there is lots to learn:

-Keep it simple, very simple
Explanations and design. Look how little they explain. The pics and site colour couldn't be less web2.0 and yet, their simplicity makes it limitless.
-Let others own it
There are already a number of add-ons going round the web to enhance the Twitter experience. People are finishing the product.
-Be inspirational

Don't do everything yourself. Do you think Twitter developers could not think of other ideas as an msn pluggin for Twitter? Of course they could. But better let others roll the ball over.
-Integration
Think how the tool can be integrated to your students way of studying or connecting, mobile, msn, online. The more, the merrier
-Make it as scalable as possible
Let the ones who have the need, become co-developers
-Invite to have fun with the tool
Do not make it look like a time-consuming task. Do not demand too much effort from the contributor. A blog post or well thought out comment, for example, demand much more than Twittering.
.................
Now...
Somehow I would like to look at my own blog and wiki for students and put them to the Twitter test.
Hmmm
.....................

Looking for Twitter
So I've done my little research. Let me share it.

The essential links
All things Twitter
The Official Blog
http://twitter.com/blog/
The Pbwiki
http://twitter.pbwiki.com
Main pages in the wiki
This list of Twitterers who are not humans or individuals (generally speaking):
This can give you an idea of the kind of feeds you can integrate to your class. There are organisations and Web2.0 companies , news services, events, weather, transport and fun.

The wikipedia has a entry I am sure will grow
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twitter

Twitter Buzz
Time magazine
This article focuses on how Twitter is the tool for bloggers with little time, the event that made us all know and talk about it, the shallowness of it all...

MSNBC
This article compares Twitter with IM, on the whole, a positive review

From the Twittersphere (I think this word is my coinage!)
All things Twitter at
http://twitterati.tv/

Bloggers on Twitter
Kathy Sierra, from Creating Passionate Users, focuses on the shift of attention web 2.0 users are involved in. The dangers of not achieving a flow state with so many alerts, addiction, i.e hyperconnected environment.

Kathy says:

"We're all feeling the enormous weight of not being able to keep up.
We can't keep up with work. We can't keep up with our social life. We
can't keep up with the industry, our hobbies, our families. We can't keep up with current events. We'll never read a fraction of those books on our list. And we are hurting.

Worst of all, this onslaught is keeping us from doing the one thing that makes most of us the happiest... being in flow."

This is in Spanish. Pablo Mancini reflects on the`the future trends that Twitter embodies.
"Algo sí ya está claro: la influencia unidireccional se ha ido para
siempre y la lógica de los nuevos medios y su lenguaje encuentra un
engranaje mucho más poderoso en las redes distribuidas."
(One thing is certain: unidirectional influence is gone forever and the logic and language of new media finds a more powerful gearing in distributed networks.)

How to become a Twit

Today, a still small number of netizens -about 100,000- are twittering their lives away. Apparently, addiction is also possible.Cure here:
http://www.twitterholic.com/

Interpretations of Twitter differ, see this

"A lot of tweets are sent from work: "Waiting for a meeting to start.
Why is it so hard to be on time," "Pouting. People aren't returning my
emails, and I have post-annual-report-submission anxiety." And Twitter
is not a mere procrastination tool. It acts as a mental escape hatch."


Other uses from other professions, get inspired...
Useful or just cool
Examples of use
Comunicazione interna

Five ways to make Twitter work for you
Status reports, agenda alerts at a conference, a note to yourself, new updates and release announcements, picture captions. Similar list from Lifehacker

Note this
Micro-Attention-Sharing- a comparison with del.icio.us

The lists of apps can give you an idea of the use
http://twitter.pbwiki.com/Mashups
e.g. find out when your public transport route isn't running (London Underground and SF BART)

From Wired Blog
Twitter on your desktop, Firefox browser, Google homepage, Gtalk, Google map, and how to get a tiny url to fit the 144 character limit.

You can combine your Twitter with your blog post
Email
Send RSS to Twitter
Feed your blog to Twitter

Twessenger, update your windows live messenger personal message
Update from Secondlife

Can it be more ubiquitous?
Yes, it goes on...More here, read a book to twitter!

Enough! I am twittered out.

Follow up in my del.icio.us
http://del.icio.us/fceblog/twitter

Acknowledgements: I first learnt about Twitter from Maestro Alberto, an Italian teacher. I signed in back in Jan 2007.
What attracted me to it was the widget. I was then looking for a tool to post class updates to students who had been absent and needed to know the class highlight. Luckily I did not do it. Now I imagine my students suggesting far better uses.

Are you using Twitter with your students or just for yourself? Let me know or befriend me there to get to you.
Here is my own Twitter (I am adding a permalink in my blog)

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The first reactions to this post came through Twitter itself! After I published this I posted it in Twitter. I befriended all the familiar faces I found -15 edubloggers. Went to sleep.
The next morning I found that 8 had already added me.

And Darren twittered he was reading this post.

Thank you all!

Great post. So many things to keep up with and add to the learning. I'll have to spend some time getting use to this new tool! Thanks

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