The Great Twitter (Squawker) Experiment continues for me, and I am now at the end of Week 2. I have stats, I have some experience using it, and I’ve had a good tutorial from @alex_craghead (a former student / now colleague). I know a few things about it, and I can see possibility and value there.
And yet, I’ve continued to wonder: what’s in it for me? (I know, right??!?!?) But really, do I want to spend my time there, squawking and following other squawkers? To what end?
And then I think: Holy cow – what’s in it for people who follow me? I really don’t want to be contributing to Twitter Litter!
And then, just yesterday, the great and amazing Howard Rheingold explained to me what’s in it for me. In an article he wrote for the New York Times in rebuttal to an article written by Malcolm Gladwell about the limits of Twitter to change the world, Rheingold wrote:
As for Twitter, I’ve found that you have to learn how to make it add value rather than subtract hours from one’s day. Certainly, it affords narcissism and distraction. But it also makes possible the self-organization of the fluid forums that I learned (via Twitter) to call “personal learning networks.”
I value Twitter because of its openness (anyone can join, anyone can follow anyone else, except for accounts that require permission), immediacy, variety, reciprocity, its channel to multiple publics, its potential for allowing networks to become communities, the mass collaborations it enables, its searchability.
I use it to learn. When I wanted to learn about videography I followed a Twitter list of video experts. Want to learn about social media uses in education? Follow a list of technology-enthusiastic educators. (I wrote a blog post about Twitter literacy a year and a half ago.)
NOW I know why and how to use Twitter:
And of course, I learned of this article through Twitter!
And now that learning has become to goal, the end, the point of it all, I think I am hooked.