Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Twitter is sold wrong

I know so many people who simply and completely misunderstand Twitter. And I don't blame them, because Twitter is entirely sold wrong to professionals.

Here's what I mean:

See where it says WHAT'S HAPPENING?

Well, that's not what it should say. Because frankly, I don't care what you are doing.You could be picking your nose right now, and I don't care, nor will I ever care. So don't tell me.

What it should say is: WHAT DO  YOU KNOW THAT I SHOULD KNOW.

If sold this way, Twitter can provide professionals with a window of almost infinite possibilities. When used as a port to professionalism, Twitter provides an opportunity like no other.

Sharing 140 characters can only provide so much information, so it is very important to understand how to share links. Some links are by themselves more than 140 characters. Does that mean we can't share these links?

No. These long and hairy links can actually be shortened by a number of different link shortening services, including http://www.tinyurl.com/ where  you can enter the long url address and make it tiny.

For example,  you can take the URL to my favorite blog post: http://www.joebower.org/2010/01/information-vs-reward-and-punishment.html and I can shorten it from 72 characters to 27 charactes. This way I can provide a link while using more of my limited character space to actually explain what the link is about.

When Twitter is sold as a medium to share information rather than just a status update, teachers can see how Twitter can quickly become the best way to share information with like-minded professionals.

For example, this morning I thought I could quickly find some cell biology videos on YouTube. I found some videos, but they were pretty lame and about 300 years old, and I knew my students wouldn't be impressed, so I decided to Tweet this:

In about 10 seconds, I received this reply from Alexandra from Portugal:

I then received this from David from Vancouver:

One of the links these two very kind people provided me was so useful, I used it for the entire morning with my students.

The applications for Twitter are maybe limitless. I encourage you to give it a try.


  1. totally- I use it to get quick answers "Hey does anyone remember the name of th..." or "Hey I need to interviuew a ____, DM me if interested" and of course, 140 char summary of blog post w/ link. very true, it's not about your update, it's about how you can help share info.

  2. Twitter is great for niche markets. It allow people in those specifics niches, like technology, or education, or cooking, etc..., to connect and share what they know. If all Twitter consisted of was "What are you doing?" it would be the waste of time that it is often stereotyped as.

  3. Exactly right! We are trying to use Twitter in my school district and people joke that they don't want to know what I ate for lunch. However, it can be such a powerful professional tool.

  4. Good post! I'm trying to get teachers in my district Twittering, but it's uphill because of preconceptions. Americans are big on forming opinions without knowledge.

  5. Thanks for this post! You gave me the catch phrase for Twitter I've been looking for. I have so many teachers quasi-interested in Twitter, but can't get their minds wrapped around the concept.

  6. You couldn't be more RIGHT!
    I joined Twitter to connect with like-minded professionals in educational technology.
    Since I started tweeting, I have amassed a virtual library of useful information, quotes, lesson activities, etc... plus made a few friends.
    I have even influenced my sister, who is basically comp-illiterate, to tweet happily about the issues dear to her heart.
    Unfortunately, my husband still makes fun of my "frivolous", time-wasting twitter addiction.
    If only he knew the power of Twitter!!!
    ps: I eat the same thing for breakfast every day :-)

  7. Love your short and to the point POINT about Twitter. I am often in the situation of explaining what Twitter offers to educators and of course I'm now explaining the longer you use Twitter and find learning engaging from your PLN, the more possible trends you will begin to follow and learn from. I now have other interests, events, and trends to follow. It is becoming easier and easier for me to demonstrate the value... and you're right, it's not what we are doing at the moment that matters, but what we are thinking and sharing with others.

  8. Thnx for retwitting this article. I just discovered this app yesterday - which makes Twitter so much easier to explain to people who don't know it:
    This is my twitter newspaper.
    You can create yours.

  9. I really like this idea shared by Bryony at an event last week http://sociallearningonline.wordpress.com/2010/06/28/how-to-help-new-users-stay-engaged-on-twitter/ and it's made me cautiously come back in - how can I manage this on a Blackberry?


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