In the past week, I’ve had a couple of Twitter conversations with some very intelligent people.
In one conversation, it went something like this “Isn’t Twitter that place where people tell other people where they are using Google Maps?” In the other case, I asked one of my best friends why he wasn’t using Twitter or Facebook. His response was “Who cares what I had for breakfast?” and “Who cares if I just had a bowel movement?”
I was taken aback by the comments in both cases. These are people that I respect and admire for their accomplishments and for the things that they do on a regular basis. How could they get it so wrong? For the most part, I think it’s the effect of the traditional media.
As I type this, there’s a story on the news about banning Twittering during the US Tennis Open. Huh? Apparently, they’re concerned about exposing details? This is the same media that gives us radar guns for serve speeds in tennis, helmet cams in auto racing to see how to change a tire, a microphone on a coach in the Little League World Series, or a floating camera over a football field to give us a look into the backfield. What are they worried about? Could it be that Twitter provides deeper insight to the game that they’re not able to broadcast using their traditional media?
So, what about the breakfast thing? (or other things) I set up a search in Seesmic Desktop and yes, someone is having “donuts for breakfast”, or “Breakfast with Rod”, or someone is eating at a “bed and breakfast”. Over the weekend, Gary Stager directed people to the Ustream of Senator Kennedy’s funeral and some of the inane comments made by the community that were injected into the middle of solemn recognition of a life of politics.
Unfortunately, these are the things that make the news, not the stories that show the successful use of technologies. I recall a couple of weeks ago when I presented at the ACSE Computer Science Conference. Interest picked up when I showed how I was using Seesmic Desktop to follow the conversation about the Google Chrome Browser and the Google Chrome OS. I gave a list of some of the Computer Science educators that I follow on Twitter and there were a number of new Twitter accounts created immediately. I know because a bunch of them decided to follow me.
Image by luc legay via Flickr
I value the folks that I interact with on a daily basis. I try to give a shout out on #FollowFriday because I enjoy their contributions and I do my best to throw it back to them. Over the couple of years that I have been using Twitter, I have learned so much because of the efforts of these progressive educators. I appreciate the feedback of people who have found terrific resources or share their successes with new software.
At the recently completed NECC Conference, I sat in on a couple of Web 2.0 presentations and inevitably there was a quick Twitter demo. The demonstration gave what as an example? “Here’s what I had for lunch…” types of comments.
It’s no wonder why people don’t take this technology seriously. For every advocate in a school district or within a school itself, how many other colleagues are onside with them? It’s a sad few. Yet, we have a whack of computers and better internet access than ever in these locations.
It seems to me that we need to have better public relations screaming the successes, the opportunities, and the real value of getting involved and cultivating a network that makes you better at whatever you do. If we’re going to make this work, we’ve got lots of work ahead of us.
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