Like everyone else, I got into Facebook. Never the pointless flash games, but as a place to share photos with family and friends, it worked for me. It also allowed me to stay in touch with family and friends who are far away. Recently though, with the constant addition of new ‘friends’ many of whom aren’t, I find myself staring at news-feeds of people I couldn’t care less about, and, in some cases, I wouldn’t recognize if I passed them on the street. One day, after spending ten minutes trying to find a comment from someone I genuinely thought about often, I simply switched it off.
A couple of months ago I started using Twitter at a computers in education conference (ecoo.org). I’d tried Twitter a couple of times and it hadn’t caught – I couldn’t see the point in it, but this conference turbocharged the tweets. Following flash mobs to prizes, getting well researched links and ideas from other teachers, backchanneling in presentations… I got hooked.
Twitter is like facebook in that it’s a social networking tool, but without the social dead-weight. Follow who you want and lurk, or twit away. If people enjoy it, word spreads and you get a posse. Keep grooming who you follow. After a while it’s a steady stream of people you really enjoy reading. Twitter’s not about you in the herd, it’s about customizing a herd FOR you.
The teacher angle has let me build a PLN, personal learning network. Recently, at another conference, I ran into people I’d been tweeting with over several months. It felt like we already knew each other, but only in a certain way. Filling in the blanks was a wonderful experience, and a great opportunity to pick and choose new people to follow.
I’m still only 6 months into twitter. I’ve dropped more people than I now follow, and I suspect that I’ll top out at about 100, and constantly be grooming out filler. I’m interested in following thoughts and developing PLN, not seeing what a celebrity thinks (rare exceptions: @naomiklien, for obvious reasons, @stephenfry because he broadcasts intelligently).