Mar 25, 2009

Getting to Know Twitter

I signed up for Twitter to see what all the buzz is about. I've been using it about a week and I still don't quite get it. Well that's not entirely true. I do get how it can be a useful tool to communicate and share ideas. I don't yet get why it is hyped as much as it is. I don't see it being much different than the status updates that already exist in networks like Facebook and Linked In.

The value of Twitter seems to be highly tied to the people you follow. I've been following some people in my industry this week; however, I really haven't had anything ground-breaking come across my desk yet. I've found more value in the blogs I'm following. Maybe I need more colleagues and friends using Twitter before I find the value. And I'm not sure why this bothers me so much but I don't like that many people using Twitter love to share hyperlinks. I don't have the time to check out what's at the end of every hyperlink that is tweeted. I don't find value in that. Am I alone?

I'll keep Twittering for the next few weeks and see what happens next. I do like the fact that Twitter seems to be a little more personal than social networking and blogging. I do think there is value in seeing what people are up to day to day. It can give me insight into improving some of my day to day activities. I know what projects people are working on so I can ask them about issues while they are still fresh on the mind. But I don't think this is golden nugget of Twitter. I think there is more I'm missing.


John Zurovchak said...


Good post! I think Twitter has become a bit over-hyped, particularly in the last month or so as it has gone mainstream in the media and with superstars, etc. It took me quite a while to find value in it as well.

The analogy that I keep in my head is what occurs in grad school. When I first hit grad school I didn't know any of my classmates very well. We had conversations and shared information across the first year, but it wasn't until I got to know them better that we could move to deeper conversations as well as share information and ideas. Even more important, I got to know the people that they knew and my network expanded on my own campus and with scholars at other campuses.

I have found Twitter to be the same for me. It took a few months for me to build a network and to begin to follow different conversations that I really started to enjoy it.

I see Twitter as just another tool that people use to connect. Some like it, some don't. It certainly is not a MUST HAVE by any means. Nor do I think it is leading to less complex thinking and eroding vocabulary and writing skills as some have claimed.

Here is some advice that I have given to other elearning professionals regarding getting started on Twitter. Hope you find it useful:

1. Download Tweetdeck for free: - it’s a great tool for organizing and tracking your Twitter network
2. Once you are following some folks you can also click on any other names that look interesting and click the follow button.
3. Check out this link for hundreds of elearning folks and their twitter addresses:
4. Once you have TweetDeck installed use the Search function and type in #elearning – it will launch a new column and you can follow the #elearning conversations going on and follow anyone of interest. (I also have a column for #AG09 since that conversation is still going on too.) You can search on any terms that make sense to you. Following these focused conversations is what really helped me get the most value out of this tool.

Good luck!

Jonathan Shoaf said...

Thanks for the comments John. I like the grad school analogy. I also agree that software like TweetDeck makes Twitter easier to access and use. I know that some organizations are still blocking social apps like Twitter. I'm wondering if you see Twitter as adding value to your job?