Sunday, May 15, 2011

Why Twitter?

Some of you know that I am a big fan of Twitter.  I have tried explaining to several people, why I think it is so great.  It is pretty simple, yet complicated.  So I am going to attempt to give you the basics of why it really works for me and I think it could for you.

First: You only see what you want to see.
One of the big complaints I hear from people is, I don't want to hear what people had for breakfast.  Well that is the great thing about Twitter, if you don't like what someone is saying unfollow them.  Unlike Facebook, you do not have to follow who is following you.  If someone is annoying and posts 100 things about cats, don't follow them!  You should never have anything show up in your Twitter feed that does not interest you, if you do, then it's your own fault.

I follow 33 people that do not follow me back, mostly celebrities, companies, or sports.  Some examples are @stephenathome (Stephen Colbert), @BillCosby, @RealSaltLake, @alyankovic, @rainnwilson and people like that.  I actually began twitter to keep up with Deron Williams during the off-season because I needed my Jazz fix.  Due to the nature of many people on Twitter following these people that will not follow them back, 93% of people on Twitter follow more people than follow them back.

Some new people to Twitter make it their goal to get as many followers as possible, but I just worry about getting what I want out of it.  I am myself, share what I care about, and people find me. If I look at what they have been tweeting about, and find it interesting, I follow them back, if not I don't.  If I follow them and I decide I am not interested in what they have to say, I stop following them.  Somehow, people seem to like what I have to say, I have often had people on Facebook say that they love what I post, or that I make them laugh.  Well, you would love me even more on twitter, at least 495 people seem to think so, even without me following back 287 of them.

Second: Great source for news.
Some people on Twitter don't ever use it to post a single thing of their own, they use it solely to get news and information.  It is becoming more and more of a legitimate news source, many things break first on Twitter. You do have to be careful what you believe, and check your sources, but it is where I found out last week that President Obama was going to be making a big announcement. I turned on my TV, but first heard that we had killed Osama Bin Laden on Twitter before they ever mentioned anything about him on the air.

Third: Helps me find people with similar interests, and in my professions.
I have developed a really good PLN (Professional Learning Network) with amazing educators.  Every Monday a group of 4th grade teachers and I get together from around the country, and even around the world, to discuss an educational topic.  I have gotten much more out of this than I get from talking only to teachers at my school.  I have gotten a lot of good ideas and tried them with my class. I never would have thought of some of the things they are doing.

Every Tuesday there is a similar thing, but for all people involved in education, and throughout the week there are also discussions on gifted and talented students, educational technology, new teachers, science, history, coaching, and many other chats on education.  (To really get a lot out of a chat or conference, I would recommend downloading TweetDeck.  It is also the only way I can access Twitter at work since Twitter got blocked in the middle of the year.  I have a class Twitter account where I post their daily homework everyday, and that made it harder, but several of my parents have really loved being able to follow our class on Twitter.)

A few weeks ago, another educator posted an article about how you can use an iPad to turn your computer and projector into an interactive whiteboard.  I researched it more and went to my principal to tell him it was something I was interested in.  Because of my research and interest, he is letting me get one and play around with it this summer.  Then next year, if we see success, we can get some for other teachers and I can train them on it.  When I prove that I can implement this, hopefully he can continue to have trust in me, and I can try some of my other ideas.  But without Twitter, I never would have discovered this.

Fourth: It's fun and you can connect with amazing people.
So you don't care about celebrities/sports/entertainment, you find out about news just fine, you don't think you could learn anything new about your profession/interests, then there is still plenty to enjoy.  Since everyone I follow has at least one similar interest with me, mostly Utah Jazz, Education, the LDS church, or something else along those lines, it is really easy to talk and make friends.  Since the only places I can meet people are at my elementary school, and church, it does not leave me many opportunities.

Now I have a whole network of people I can do things with, or at least talk about them with.  Last month there was a big religious conference in Utah and I was tweeting a bunch of quotes as I was listening.  This helped me pay attention, but I also made about 100 new LDS friends.  A few people disagreed with me in doing this, but remember, I am not spamming people, they choose to read what I write and can stop at anytime.  In fact only one person unfollowed me over that weekend, which is pretty normal, I have had 7 people unfollow me in the past week.  It is very normal for people to come and go.  In fact I unfollow most of the sports people this time of year because I don't want to hear them talking about baseball, I will follow them again in the Fall.

Because of these new friends I made, this past weekend I was planning on going to the local theme park Lagoon.  Neither of my roommates were interested in going, so I invited a few of my other friends and mentioned it to some people on twitter.  A couple of them were interested so we met up and had a great time.  I never would have made these new friends without Twitter.

They say you are not true friends until you are Facebook friends, but you also aren't going to make any new friends on Facebook.  Obviously, some people aren't looking to make new friends or meet strangers, heck I still find it slightly weird, but at this point in my life, finding new friends is something I need help doing.

In fact, that is really the main reason I love Twitter.  You can get whatever you want out of it, and you get what you put into it.  I like finding news, making friends, expanding my personal and professional networks, and being able to keep up on all the crazy random stuff as well.  It fits my needs perfectly, I want to be a better teacher, I want to meet new people, I love sports, I need an outlet and people to connect to.  You may need or want none of these things, and yet Twitter can help you with your interests and goals as well.  I can't tell you how to make it yours, but I have made it mine and I LOVE it!

This is the short, sorry it was kind of long still, version of why I love Twitter.  You don't have to give it a try, but at least now you can understand a little bit more why it works for me.  If you decide to give it a try, and want to follow me, my screen-name is @downrightdave

One Additional Reason:
P.S. Another thing I love is quick feedback.  5 minutes ago I posted: I'm blogging about why I love Twitter, what do you love most about it?  I have gotten over 10 responses, try getting that on Facebook.  I will list them below and add any later in the comments section.

(For those of you not used to Twitter, if you respond to someone, like me, you put @downrightdave then your message.  Only people following you and the person you are responding to will see your conversation.  So I could have a conversation with one of my friends and it wouldn't bother anyone but our friends, I still wouldn't encourage it though, it is one of my pet peeves to have friends that try to have a full length conversation on Twitter, use chat, text, phone, or "gasp" actually go talk to them in person.)

From @Sceryth: @downrightdave I can communicate quickly with others, and it's a great source for all sorts of news and inspiration.

@JDanielRollins: @downrightdave I love that I'm able to interact with people that I normally wouldn't, being a convert, I've enjoyed meeting a lot of Mormons.

@Mark_JHS: @downrightdave Follow favorite sports teams; #NJDevils #Rockies, #UtahJazz, news alerts, & sharing with fellow educators @Coachbulldog.

A Denver Post writer agreed with him and reposted or as we say retweeted (RT) Mark_JHS's message from their account @rockiestweeters.  How cool that we have a newspaper involved in this conversation!

@ladyozma: @downrightdave I get more "conversation" on twitter than on my blog :)

@grouchyteacher: @downrightdave twitter has saved my sanity since G was diagnosed w/ #diabetes.  He is the only kid in our school with it and finding other moms online has made it not so lonely.

@ladyozma then responded to her and said: I can see that, I wish I'd had twitter when Cameron was diagnosed w/cancer back in 01. Hospital stays crazy makes.

@kyfrancik: @downrightdave Connected me with many great thinkers about education - great PD tool - leading me in thinking about my guidance of students.

@redcherries22: @downrightdave networking and winning contests + getting feedback & questions answered.

@RyBen3: @downrightdave because you can learn so much from other people's opinions & fast news in 140 char.

@cspokey: @downrightdave twitter has probably saved my life.

So there you have it, why twitter?  Why not?  I have a lot more I could say, but this should do it for tonight.  If you have something you love, hate, or a question you have about Twitter, please add it in the comments section.

P.P.S. I will not be at all offended if you never join Twitter, it's not for everybody, and just like I said, you get what you want out of it, and if you don't want anything out of it, then that is perfectly fine.


J. Daniel Rollins said...

One thing I love about Twitter is that it really is so versatile. You can use it for any purpose. There is no certain way to do things, it's pretty free flowing and organic.

Great thoughts, Dave.

GrandmaBev said...

Sounds like Twitter works for you. Scott is still trying to get me to use my Cell phone more and I haven't tried texting yet, so I guess I'm not ready for Twitter.