Week Seven: Microblogging

Welcome to Week Seven of 23 Things Kansas! Time sure is flying by. If you find yourself behind in the lessons don’t stress. You have plenty of time to catch up and complete the lessons as you can. Microblogging — with mostly a focus on Twitter — is on the plate for this week; Heather Braum and Janelle Mercer will be your guides for the week.

Introduction

Microblogging is a type of blogging, with posts normally very short or limited. Twitter is the most popular tool, with a posting limitation of 140 characters or less.

Here’s what the folks at Common Craft have to say about Twitter in Plain English:

(video hosted on YouTube). Visit Common Craft to watch the video there.

Twitter started as a way for people to post “what you’re doing”. But it’s now being used for much much more, including sharing articles and resources; following real-time events and conferences; connecting with librarians and friends; sharing and viewing pictures; following the news, weather, and road conditions; talking to companies; and answering reference questions.

Many people worldwide became aware of Twitter last summer, as protests over the Iran election results occurred, and the Internet became the only way for news to reach the world in most cases. While these events were going on, Clay Shirky was speaking at a TED event at the U.S. State Department on How Social Media Can Make History. I highly recommend you watch his speech, as it illustrates the power of social media around the world.

To help you become more comfortable with Twitter, here are a few terms to be familiar with:

  • Tweet: a posting on Twitter.
  • Twitter handle: your screenname/username on Twitter.
  • Reply: “@23thingsks hello….” sending a public message to another Twitter user or responding to another user’s Tweet.
  • RT @23thingsks: This is a retweet, a reposting of someone else’s Tweet.
  • DM: Direct Message, a private message to another Twitter user.
  • Timeline: The stream of Twitter posts by those you follow.
  • Followers: Those following you on Twitter.
  • Following: Those you follow on Twitter.
  • #23thingsks: Example of a hashtag, the # sign followed by a word or phrase; it’s a way to categorize tweets, especially among users following the same event.

Sharing and Productivity

Twitter and other microblogging tools are the ultimate sharing tools. Share your information about your day, notes from a conference or meeting you’re at, links to articles you’ve read, news events, and other information. As you follow people, you’ll get information shared with you. This increase of information sharing leads to increased productivity. People always ask, how do you find time to keep up with Twitter and other tools? My response is that these tools make me more productive. Because of the network I’ve built on Twitter, lots of information comes to me, information I never would have time to look for, but did need.  Also, I’ll ask questions on Twitter and people respond with helpful answers and solutions.

This network of people is a community. Many of the people I follow on Twitter are librarians, educators, and technology leaders from around the world. I never would have a chance to speak to, listen to, or talk to many of these people in person, but with Twitter, I can do this; and many times these people will talk back! I get to see what people like Tim O’Reilly, Buffy Hamilton, Joyce Valenza, and the folks at Mashable are reading and saying, thanks to what they share on Twitter. Furthermore, I connect with a lot of librarians around the world, and learn from them. Many I’ve met in real life, but many I have not met in real life; yet, because we share the same profession and interests of librarianship, we are able to connect and learn together. Many people call this community of Twitter followers a professional learning community (PLC) or professional learning network (PLN). See this handout (PDF) for a deeper look into what PLNs are, if you’re interested.

Sidenote: People often wonder how you can manage to not struggle with information overload, especially with a network like Twitter. My advice is to let go of being able to read everything and keep up with everything; take in what you can and leave the rest. If something is important enough, plenty people on your network will post it and you’ll see it. Once you take this plan of attack, you won’t feel quite so overwhelmed.

Tools for your consideration

  • Twitter: the most popular microblogging tool.
  • Plurk: another microblogging tool. Many educators in Kansas and around the world use this tool. It works much like Twitter, with a few differences; 23 Things Kansas participant Janet Reynolds is a great Plurk user to learn from.
  • Friendfeed: an aggregator of many online sites, including Delicious, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr; but you can follow other Friendfeed users, to see all online activity in one place.
  • Tumblr: some people are using this as a blog site; but Tumblr is also considered a microblogging tool.
  • Posterous: some people are using this as a blog site; but Posterous is also considered a microblogging tool.
  • Google Buzz: this is the newest microblogging tool, released in the last two weeks by Google. The jury is still out on Buzz, and while you definitely can use it, I highly recommend you take a look at these two articles on privacy and Buzz; both include instructions on how to turn off Buzz. Unlike the previously mentioned tools that have privacy settings that are built-in and easy to find, Buzz is not quite so simple. Maybe Google will get better about its deployment and settings, but I am wary of Buzz at this time.

Tool Instructions and Activity

  1. Sign up for one of the tools listed above; for those of you new to Microblogging, I recommend Twitter since it is so widely used.
  2. Choose to make your account public or private as part of the signup process. Making your account private means people have to ask to follow you before they can see your tweets.
  3. Find people to follow on Twitter. Here are some people to follow, to get you started:
  4. Leave your Twitter (or tool of choice) screenname in the comments area below so others can find you. Make sure you leave your screenname and the site you’re using.
  5. Start posting on Twitter (or your tool of choice) and interacting with other users. The power of Twitter (and other networks) comes in the back-and-forth conversations you can have.
  6. On your blog for the week, answer the following questions:
    1. What do you think about using one of these microblogging tools?
    2. Did you find it easy to find people to follow, especially after a list of examples was given?
    3. Who are three people or organizations you starting following this week and why did you follow them? Have you found their posts helpful?
    4. What kinds of uses do you see you might have for microblogging? Have you already found some uses for it?
  7. Bonus Activity: Use the hashtag #23thingsks on some of your tweets this week. They will then appear in the sidebar of the 23 Things Kansas blog, as well as here. Note: only tweets from public Twitter accounts will show up here.

Further Resources

132 thoughts on “Week Seven: Microblogging

  1. When you block someone from friending you on Twitter do they receive notification of your action?

    Do HootSuite & TweetDeck take up lots of space & make your computer run slower? Are these the types of applications you use to get your “tweets” to post to your facebook newsfeed?

  2. @Nancy, no, they don’t receive notification of your action. I block people all the time — random spambots, certain women with “fun” pictures & tweets, people who are so-called social media experts and have thousands of followers & others I’m not interested in at all. I’m a heavy Twitter user, and probably block 3-5 people a day.

    HootSuite & TweetDeck don’t take up much space at all on your computer & don’t make it run slower at all. I actually recommend if you want to get more out of twitter, you use software like HootSuite or TweetDeck. I’ve used TweetDeck, but never HootSuite.

    To get your tweets to post to Facebook, you can either use TweetDeck to do this and you’ll have the option each time you Tweet to check a box to also send to Facebook. Or, just add the Twitter application to your Facebook account and authorize Twitter to update your Facebook status: http://apps.facebook.com/twitter/

    Hope that helps!

  3. Helen,

    Welcome! I used to be original on my screennames during high school and college (no, not sharing the original ones), but now that I use many of these tools professionally, I actually prefer to use my first initial and last name for all my screennames; it’s consistency and also makes it easier for others to find me.

  4. Thank you so much Heather for your help…and I do really know people “follow” you on Twitter…not “friend” you, I had the wrong term there. I’m glad it’s OK to block people & it will go unnoticed.

    I think TweetDeck would be the way to go..it has the option to shorten your URL’s and I’m not very fond of Facebook applications.

    THANKS!

  5. My twitter name is grannyfifty. It has been quite an adventure with this. It was really fun. I see myself useing this especially with grandchildrens activities, and also with patrons of the library keeping updated.

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