As the year-ending and decade-ending lists posted to blogs all over the Internet, I decided I should add some reflective thought to the process. Since Twitter has all but revolutionized my learning, use of social media, and networking, my Top Ten list is devoted to the 140 character micro-blogging site. Numbers 10-2 are in no particular order.
#10 – Twitter networking beats out Facebook because I don’t have to deal with hiding things like Farmville, Mafia, Gift icons, and all the rest of the fluff that makes Facebook a “play” application. I like it when people get to the point already!
#9 – My lame and ineffective use of RSS readers has been replaced by tweeted suggestions of readings made by those I respect and follow on Twitter. In the past, I rarely went to my GoogleReader, so catching up on blog reading was always a Herculean effort when I finally got back to it (the same holds true for my Deli.cio.us bookmarks). Now, I read articles filtered and recommended by people in technology and education who are leaders in my field. I read the links as I go, saving articles I can use for later. This saves me time and gets new and pertinent information to me quickly. I may be in danger of limiting my scope of information to like-minded individuals, but as my Twitter list of followers and followees continues to grow- so does the diversity of thought. And those I follow have no qualms about challenging the thinking of others (right @garystager)?
#8 Snarkiness is entertaining – even within educational discourse. If you don’t believe me, just take a few minutes reading the quips from @jimgroom (Bava Tuesdays) – nobody blogs like ‘The Bava’…nobody, @shareski (Ideas and Thoughts), @garystager (Gary S. Stager), @quinnovator (Quinnovation), @mrch0mp3rs (Aaronsilvers.com), and any of the multitudes who post great asides during #lrnchat (The Learn Chat Blog).
Yeah, snarky. Its a word, google it.
#7 Hashtags rock. I understood the idea behind tag clouds with searching and organizing because my Deli.cio.us account was set up this way. I was never big into tagging, however. It was just more words to add to an entry, and I didn’t really see the need. Then I learned about Twitter hashtags, and I saw how quickly I was able to filter, group, and search my way to the information I wanted to know. Twitter got me tagging … now, I am annoyed when I use a piece of software in or out of the cloud that doesn’t allow me to do it.
#6 – Twitter followers/followees provide me with many resources – some of which I have incorporated into my daily life. For example , Xobni was retweeted by someone I follow. I checked it out and immediately added the useful Outlook plug in to my email/contacts management.
#5 – Those I follow on Twitter lead me to other leaders in technology and education who I should follow. I mine the followers of those I follow – especially if they show up in retweets and on mulitple Twitter feeds of others I follow. This is how I discovered learning and technology leaders like @bschlenker (Corporate eLearning) @marciamarcia (Live Laugh Learn Lead) @educ8ter (OER Consortium), @opencontent (David Wiley), @leighblackall (Leigh Blackall), @chrislehmann (Practical Theory) and @hjarche (Learning and Working on the Web) among others.
#4 – Twitter helps to build discourse on my blog posts. I am not that concerned over my blog stats, but I do enjoy the discussions that can come from them through the comments. By tweeting a post with an appropriate hashtag (#openphd), I am effectively inviting the Twittersphere to ponder ideas with me, challenge my thinking, or suggest questions I hadn’t considered. Thank you, by the way, to those who have joined in by commenting here.
#3 – Twitter allows me to see current trends and breaking news as it is happening. This allows my teaching to be more current. The power of “currency” has been illustrated in amazing ways from reports of tsunamis, the Iran vote protest, and foiled terrorist attacks.
#2 – Twitter allows me to (sometimes) personally make connections with thoughtful leaders, authors, professors and others who I would never have direct conversations with in other media. The relationship of follower to followee allows for a personalization of the connection between people who would otherwise be strangers. The next stages of connection moves to blog commenting and then emailing . Relationships between individuals sharing a common interest are regularly established via Twitter.
#1 – I have made friends. Twitter friends and Twitter communities (#lrnchat, #elearnstout Twibe). Thes are real people who participate in my professional life almost daily, and sometimes become a part of my personal life by enriching both with discussion, humor, webinars, games, TV and movie commentating, sports reactions, and the occasional meet up in analog space. Thanks for that!
It has been an educationally-enriching year. I look forward to what 2010 may hold!