The power of Twitter

Sketch for Twitter. See also the author's desc...
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Five years ago, or so I am reliably informed, Twitter came into our world.

Now I don’t know what 5 years means to you. I suppose that it depends on your age. If you are an eighteen year old who has grown up with Twitter during your important teenage years, then I suppose it has been a very big part of your life.

For me, an aging teacher who first came upon Twitter about 15 months ago, Twitter has been a typhoon that has blown into my life and has provided me with incredible possibilities in terms of information and communication.

When I first came upon Twitter I was told by many of my friends that it did not have much to it. It’s about telling your friends where you have been and where you are going. It is text messaging by another name. Why bother?

Well, for quite a few weeks I didn’t. I just looked at my Twitter account, with no friends and no followers and decided that I had joined the 21st century by at least signing up!

Then life transformed, almost overnight. I started to follow a few people, of who Chris Anderson, of TED Talks fame, was one of the first. He sent me a direct message with a link to a longer article that he had written about the potential and use of Twitter.

I read the article and suddenly I saw the real potential of Twitter. Reading “The History of Twitter 140 Characters At A Time”  we find the following:

Twitter is the brainchild of a programmers who worked at the podcasting company Odeo Inc. in San Francisco.

The founders are Jack Dorsey (@Jack), Evan Williams (@Ev) and Biz Stone (@Biz).

They were looking for a way to send text on their cellphones and a way to reinvent a dying company.

On March 21, 2006, @Jack sent the first tweet: “just setting up my twttr.”

I wonder if Jack Dorsey knew just how many “Tweets” would follow that original Tweet (or twttr) sent five years ago today?

The original idea was about simple messages… where I am. what I am doing, where I am going. To quote the article:

The dictionary definition of twitter is “a short burst of inconsequential information.”

A perfect name, said @Jack because “that’s exactly what the product was.”

But it changed to something very different. Firstly because it allowed for the creation of groups of like-minded people in communities. It allowed for very speedy communication between these people and it also allowed these people to communicate longer articles and websites using hyperlinks.

By the time I received Chris  Anderson’s Direct Message, there had been a massive growth in the potential and power of Twitter.

In the recent political situations in the Middle East and in other parts of the world, Twitter has been an important part (along with the other big player in the Social Media revolution, Facebook) in getting messages out which in times past would have proven difficult if not impossible.

When I wake up in the morning and switch on my laptop. I look at Twitter soon after my e-mails. I notice changes in those who follow me (now over 900!) and I choose who I want to follow. I look for the important news items and the latest list of  “Trends”  which is often a way of finding out the very latest breaking stories.

I check for the latest Tweets by people who I have grown to admire and respect in my field of education and quite often I will get a link to some story or website that is very worthwhile.

I have done some training recently where I have extolled the virtues and potential of Twitter to teachers and consultants and found that I have been met with responses such as…. Twitter is a waste of my time, it is just about where I have been and where I am going.

I tell them that it is much much more than that.. try it…. it might transform your life…. it transformed mine.

 

 

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One thought on “The power of Twitter

  1. I love the analogy Malcolm of twitter being a “typhoon” that has come into your life! I know exactly what you mean – it has totally changed my professional development. Twitter is a place whereby I can expand areas I already know, and draw upon other people’s strength, I can also share my knowledge with others and not to mention be challenged in areas I know little to nothing about. Just goes to show that there’s always something to be learned if you are open to the opportunities.

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