Twitter-ific Success…

So I’ve been playing with Twitter all weekend long and today I had my first Twitter-ific success.

For those of you who haven’t quite made the Twitter jump yet, it is essentially a public instant messaging system that allows users to attract "followers" and to "follow" others. As Sheryl Nussbaum Beach so aptly explains, Twitter is a way for people to build a "personal learning network" of colleagues and friends who can provide just-in-time help, resources and advice about almost anything.

The central element in a Twitter conversation is called a Tweet—-and it is a short (140 character message) that users send through an online client that looks just like any other instant messaging application that you’ve ever seen before. That message immediately appears in the Twitter windows of anyone who is "following" you….and they can respond with help/advice/suggestions/ ideas/compassion/random insults/open sarcasm if they feel so inclined.

I signed up and sent my first Tweet or two last weekend….but didn’t have any followers! A lot of good that does me, right? Calling for help when no one is listening is somewhat useless, don’t you think?

Then I stopped by the Teacher Leaders Network and advertized my Twitter-ness. Found out that about six digital friends are in the Twitter-verse (a term used by Twitter-heads to describe the conversation that happens via Tweets). They started following me and I started following them!

I also picked up a few Twitter followers when Sheryl—who’s got quite a Twitter following—sent a Tweet advertizing me as a Twitter Virgin. (I’m not sure that’s an official part of the Twitter lexicon, but it ought to be, don’t you think?  Besides, it might drive a few hits to the Radical from search engines.)

I headed into school this morning and found out that Twitter is blocked by our school’s network (which considers it a dating service despite the obvious difficulties of courting in a 140 characters or less) and went home discouraged. I sent a Tweet out to my very small following asking if anyone had found a way to use Twitter in schools through an approved third party application…..and got an answer (and a solution that works) in all of eight minutes from someone I’ve never met who is following me.

Crazy, huh?

So what’s the real power in Twitter?

The members of a Twitter Family (again, probably not a term from the Twitter dictionary) can serve as instant resources for one another, giving and getting advice immediately.

Even crazier….I bumped into one of my students at the gym yesterday and told him about Twitter. He went home, signed up immediately and sent me a Tweet before I made it back to my computer screen. Since then, he and I have been sharing resources about how to best enjoy the Twitter-verse.

Way cool to say the least.

Anyone out there Twittering in your professional lives?  Why?  Do you have a Twitter success story?  How about Twittering with kids?  Can we work to shape Twitter into a tool for communicating with colleagues?  With students?  Will Twitter Families (or something similar) become invaluable resources for everyone in the future?

Wanna swap Twitter names?  (I know, there I go talking dirty again!)

Mine’s plugusin.

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7 thoughts on “Twitter-ific Success…

  1. Chris

    I’m cpultz on Twitter and will be looking you up, sir. Have been reading your archive and am pleased to find a like mind. Looking forward to reading more.

  2. Wesley Fryer

    Dina: I think the Twitter challenge to share concise messages has a great place and value– it is also possible to share multiple, sequential tweets if desired for longer messages. It’s also a common practice to share links to sites and blog posts using tinyurl, so I really don’t think Twitter limits potential idea exchanges. I think it empowers them… If you want to let people get onto your attention radar screen via twitter. I’ve been using it on and off since NECC in Atlanta last summer. I think it can be used in powerful ways to build and sustain community.

  3. Dina

    Bill– I wonder if you’re in a perfect position to talk about the valueset of Twitter *language*. Does Twitter not imply: You can communicate everything of importance within 160 characters? Or: revision is unnecessary, perhaps even SILLY (there isn’t even a function for revision on Twitter itself, just “delete”!) 🙂
    Don’t get me wrong– I joined Twitter over the weekend and I’m having a ball. But I am fascinated with what the Twitterverse is saying to us about communication and human connection. It is not value-neutral. No technology is.
    Would love your thoughts.

  4. Damian

    I’ve tried using Twitter as part of a high school English class, and while I think my students liked the idea, I think many of them lacked the motivation to log on and spend any more personal time than they had to doing “school stuff.” Part of me thinks that the association w/school killed it for them, but the optimist in me is going to try it again with my honors juniors and seniors this semester and see if they’re any more motivated to participate in a PLN that transcends the physical and time constraints of the classroom.
    That personal motivation is a big part of what makes Twitter successful or a waste of time – if you’re motivated to seek out people to follow and use the tool for an educational purpose, I think there’s value there. Likewise, using the tool for procrastination (or dating – yikes!), well…it’s a tool whose utility rests solely in the hands of the users.
    I’m “garageflowers” on Twitter, and I actually came here via one of your Tweets, so the network seems to be working!

  5. Paul C

    I completely agree about the power of Twitter for “pesonal learning networks”. What’s frustrating for some of the “virgins” that I’ve met is that Twitter is useless until you develop a network, and then its utility grows exponentially. It’s a difficult initial hurdle to cross.

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