doug — off the record

just a place to share some thoughts

Making a List – and That’s Just the Beginning

You know, it usually starts with “How did you know that?”

The answer inspires many people to get their Twitter account and then ask “OK, what’s next?”

Well, then you build your PLN by following people and reading their tweets and further engage.  Then you continue to add users and …


That’s where I love this quote from Jenny Luca’s blog.


This “drink” is often what drives people to drink – or at least away from Twitter.  If you go off the deep end and follow everybody or everything in sight, it truly can be overwhelming.  So, you could be a bit smart about it and make your reading manageable.  There are a lot of ways to do this.  For me, it’s through the use of lists.

A long time ago, I ditched the Twitter web interface in favour of a browser that allowed me to manage lists and have them constantly displayed on my screen.  For the longest time, Seesmic was my tool of choice.  It went away and I moved to Hootsuite.  (which ironically was the service that bought Seesmic!)  I haven’t looked back.  Within Twitter, I created lists for various things.  In my case, it was a way to organize the number of people that I follow into manageable groups.  To take Ms. Luca’s quote further – we all did this as a child – we put our thumb over a garden hose to focus the spray.  I like to think that lists focus the conversations that I follow.

For me, absolutely the two lists that I follow all the time are those of Ontario Educators

A question that I commonly get asked is “How did you find these people?”  The best, honest answer is through dumb luck but I’m glad that I did!  Since lists are public, clicking on either or both of those links will get you immediate access to 677 folks involved in Ontario Education.  I make my own rules as to who (or what) makes the list.  You’re welcome to follow those lists or follow individuals within there if they somehow appeal to you.

So, honestly, my Hootsuite desktop absolutely looks like this.


The two leftmost columns are my big news feed (big fire hose), a column where I just might get mentioned (@dougpete) and then the last two columns constantly filter and display the messages only from those who fall into one of the two Ontario educator lists.


Inevitably, I look there just to see what other Ontario folks are chatting about.  You can make those columns anything you want – math teachers, other kindergarten teachers, computer science teachers, sports figures, news services, … The possibilities are endless.

Even then, though, lots of information gets through the fire hydrant without me noticing.  After all, you can’t be sitting at the screen watching everything that passes.

Plus, I don’t want all that work.  Why not let the web work for you?

A long time ago, I found a solution that works nicely for me. lets you create and publish your own publications.  The key and importance for me is “automatic” once you’re set up.  And, you guessed it, it can create the publication from your Twitter lists.

So, my source look like this:

Selection_097and I publish it once a day…

Selection_098 does a random promotion part with some of the stories that make the publication.  I can wait until a new edition comes along or go to my news stand and click on the newspaper to see what’s up.  I like this as a summary of the great things that Ontario Educators are sharing.  So, if I don’t get a chance to read the Twitter message as it happens, I can always view the link at my leisure and get caught up.  If you have a classroom Twitter account and are following all kinds of engaging sources, your monthly newsletter could be created and posted to your class wiki daily!  What a great way to encourage curated subject reading.  Just choose those who you follow wisely.

In a word, the use of Twitter lists has made my productivity online shoot through the roof.  For me, it literally leveraged all that was coming from the fire hydrant into a manageable daily process.  Very quickly, I get to the good stuff.

If you’re looking for the mechanics of creating a Twitter list, check out this page from Twitter support.



One response to “Making a List – and That’s Just the Beginning”

  1. As often happens, when I blog, I immediately find a resource to support it! This morning, I ran across the step by step (with pictures) for creating a Twitter list. If you are interested, it’s available here.


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