Twitter is one of those unique platforms. There is so much said about it. Some dream of what it could be. Others swear by it as a means of professional development. Some rue the changes. Others talk about the public/private conundrum. Some are critical of the branding and death of the real comment. What is interesting is that with all of these attempts to make sense of the platform, how people use it is always somewhat particular to them.
Riffing on Ian Guest’s recent post unpacking how he uses Twitter, here are some of the ways I use the platform:
- Hashtags: Clive Thompson once described tags as the soul of the internet, in regards to Twitter they are pretty important. I often use them to follow up different ideas and information, this is especially the case when participating in a cMOOC, such as #ccourses or #rhizo14. I also use hashtags to tune into different communities, such as #VicPLN, seeing what is being shared and if I can help with anything. In regards to my own posts, my thinking has been influenced by a post from Mark Barnes, I consciously restrict myself to two hashtags when I post.
- Publishing: one of my main uses is to share ideas and information. This is often done outside of Twitter itself. If it is my blog, the Jetpack plugin allows me to share posts when published, while I often share directly from news aggregation applications, such as Feedly and Pocket. For this, I usually try and capture a key quote, rather than just tweet out the title. This is about my own sense of meaning making, as well as a way of commenting to the author what I find interesting. For other spaces, like Flickr, I use an IFTTT recipe to publish to Twitter.
- Engaging: When pondering something or seeking different perspectives, I will often put it out there on Twitter to see what I get. This is something that Clive Thompson talks about in his book Smarter Than You Think. I must admit, I have found that open questions or calls for help themselves often receive little attention even with thousands of followers, therefore if I really want a response I will tag particular people. Sometimes this can produce momentum where others will then add further thoughts. In addition to this, I regularly engage in different conversations online. Along with sharing ideas, I see this as a part of giving back.
- Chats: I must admit, I have never truly fallen in love with chats as others have. In part, I have always been a little sceptical about what ideas can be gained, but to be fair my bigger concern is time. My life as it presently stands does not always afford me 30-60 minutes to tune into a chat. Subsequently, I often break the unwritter rules and just drop in and out based on what else is happening. Sometimes I will come back to the Storify’d archive, but not as often as I would like. What I do like about chats is the stronger connections with other educators that such spaces allow.
- Consuming: I have been through different iterations when it comes to reading tweets. I remember when I started I would scroll through every tweet each day. I actually managed this for quite a while, until I started following far too many users and felt that I needed to dig deeper. I then resorted to creating a list, which contained all those people that I felt I didn’t want to miss out on. Now though I rarely use Tweetdeck and find lists too cumbersome when using the Twitter application, I therefore just take a dip in the river every so often when I have a spare moment or two. To support this serendipity, I use IFTTT to save tweets directly to Pocket. While I also sometimes check out the highlights, as well as the links that people occasionally tag me in. Early on, Twitter was my source of ideas. However, I rely heavily now on the 100+ blogs in Feedly, as well as other sources, such as newsletters and Nuzzel to curate my content.
I have written before about Twitter, capturing the different possibilities, but a focus on supposed affordances overlooks the nuances of personal use and development over time. Although I have used Twitter for quite a while, how I use it has changed and morphed. Sometimes it is about where it fits within my life, sometimes it is about purpose and intent, other times it is simply about trying new things.
Take for example sharing visual quotes. I used to use Quizio (an application I actually discovered via Twitter). I share less images now, but probably spend more time creating them. A part of this is about developing a unique style and signature.
So what about you? How do you use Twitter and how has it developed over time? As always, comments welcome, but even better, write your own post and share it here.
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A Personal Twitter Tour by Aaron Davis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.