Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Why Twitter?

Why tweet? What's the point of twitter anyway?

I twitter to learn. By tweeting I connect with tech-giants to learn new about new tools, issues, headlines or professional books in the ed-tech world. I tap into the collective wisdom of teachers in my state (Lee Kolbert, Jerry Swiatek and others I follow via lists like Heather Mason's list of Florida teachers) or lean on teacher expert English teachers from across nation and nings. Meredith Stewart makes following such folks from the English Companion Ning-ers easy with this list. I'm talking educational rock stars in the English education world. Folks like Jim Burke, Kylene Beers, Stephen Krashen. For an an English teacher who is passionate about reading and learning this is 140 characters of heaven. As are the young adult authors who tweet:John Green, Ellen Hopkins, Sarah Dresden and more.

I twitter to change the world. John Green and his brother, Hank Green showed me twitter's world changing power last year during the Project 4 Awesome. The Green brothers, who just hit 200K subscribers on YouTube, command a band of Nerdfighters and host a yearly charity event on YouTube where the Nerdfighters comment and rate videos featuring charities in order to take over YouTube's most discussed page. Last year's the brothers added Twitter to the mix and we (for I too am a Nerdfighter) pushed the Project 4 Awesome to Twitter's #1 trending topic. If two minds are better than one, twitter ups mind power exponentially and no one leads the swarm better than the Green brothers.

How do you find time to do that? Twitter takes as much time as you want to give it. I don't twitter from my hip all day long. I dip into Twitter in the morning, sometimes mid-day and in the evening. During the Project for Awesome I twitter constantly, but unless there is a special chat or event, I am low-count tweeter. I joined twitter nearly 3 years ago and have not hit 3,000 tweets. Deeply embeded tweeps tweet much more than that. Meredith Stewart and Jen Ansbach, wonder-teachers and ECNingers, are closing in on 18,000 tweets in under 2 years time.

Twitter does take a time investment, but you choose your level of commitment. Do you want to listen in and lurk? Or will you join the conversation? Themed chats using hashtags* are one way to jump in. Find a chat, such as #engchat on Monday nights or #edchat. Chats seem like o-matic community builders because you have a group of folks gathered around a similar interest talking away. Like a great dinner party conversation but you don't have to worry about what you're wearing. I throughly enjoyed Sunday evening's book chat with Paul Hankins (@PaulwHankins) and Donalyn Brooks (@donalynbrooks). This was their first Title Talk chat and there are sure to be more.

So why twitter? Why not?

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Twitter Vocabulary

twitter: social network where users can communicate with followers by posting short messages (140 characters or less)
followers: people who subscribe to your twitter stream or feed
tweet: sending a 140 character message via twitter
tweeple: people you connect with on twitter
list: a way to organize groups of tweeple in order to follow by categories you create
trending topic: subjects (recorded by keyword or hashtag) that are most popular on twitter
hashtag: a system of organization or folksonomy created with #sign and keyword (ie: #p4a is the Project for Awesome hashtag)

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