Twittering at OpenEd

I’ve been a very very itinerant dabbler in Twitter.

Twitter emerged at the OPenEd conference complete with conference tag: #opened09.  Not as a trickle, but a steady stream.  I wondered a little at how people kept up until I saw they used some other applications.  Moving into using TweetDeck instantly quadrupled my productivity and ease of use of Twiter. In other words, if you dabble just using the regular Tweeter interface it takes too much time and there are too many overheads.

But when and how do we learn about these new things?

  1. There is a discipline in following up on a piece of new technology
  2. You need to make some decisions on how beneficial it is, or is not going to be, and we often don’t get this right
  3. It took this conference as a catalyst to properly lure me into this.

Aside: The buzz word is microblogging.  I stumbled on this little romantic piece about twittering from Richard Smith who we met last Saturday: Is twitter the latest thing? Or is it an ancient thing, writ new? I argue the latter.

It seemed to me there was not much blogging about the conference during the conference, and that many people were putting their energy into tweets and personal conversations. Probably a good thing. Here is Tony Hirsts’s post on visualizing Twitter and the connections at the conference:

Long term I’m not sure how I will cope with Twitter.  There is such a flow of information, the responses and the follow up often are so fragmentary.  But we shall see.  I’ll get a plug in on this blog.  Which one? To be decided.

But, during the conference it was stimulating, sparking off many side conversations.  It favours the quick typists, then the people who can think two things at once, or quickly change from a moment, send their tweet and then return.  Several observations:

Lost gems: Some passing comments seemed to just disappear into the flow of posts. Others got picked up and retweeted. I notice in the help documentation the abbreviation RT for retweet is not regarded as a standard Twitter phrase but is extremely popular.

Democracy (or not): In some respects, some voices are louder than others. On the other hand, there is a democratization process at work and a comment from somebody, even a non-attender of a conference via Twitter, can help bring a new thought into the conversations.

Unfinished conversations: Just like some things can get lost, some things can be just unfinished. An example of this, in particular, is the final session on Thursday with David Wiley looking at the quality of OERs. The question of voting, metadata, personal recommendations, tags and so on was completely unresolved at the time, and there were a lot of half-finished conversations.  There were a large number of diverse threads to this particular discussion. Personally I was finding it difficult to decide what to give my attention to. Often it came down to a case of what was personally interesting to me at the time, versus what might have had specific long-term value for my work situation back home; after all they have helped to fund this trip.

The serious blogging came after the conference.

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