Twitter is in the news every day at the moment. Barak Obama is “tweeting” and so is Stephen Fry! So what is it and why should schools be interested?
What is Twitter?
Twitter describes itself as “a free social messaging utility for staying connected in real-time”. It’s like sending a phone text message to a whole group of friends or colleagues at once but it’s displayed on the web. The idea is to provide quick and frequent answers to one simple question “What are you doing?” The message or “tweet” in reply is limited to 140 characters so you have to make it snappy!
Bath Bus Station let its customers know if a bus service is delayed through Twitter. Yes really! Check it out here… http://twitter.com/bathcsc
As you can see I’m using it in the same way (on the right handside of this blog) to update staff in school about when the library is available for use.
Science Professor Tweeting
Many high profile academics are using Twitter to advertise their latest research to the general public. E.g Marcus du Sautoy, Professor for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University, (who along with the comedian Alan Davies produced a recent BBC Horizon programme about Maths) regularly tweets http://twitter.com/MarcusduSautoy. By joining the twitter community anyone can “follow” his messages. These include links to his blog or newspaper articles that he has written so, if you are interested in the snippet of information he provides, you can follow it up in more depth.
Joining up and tips to get you started
The only way to really find out what its all about is join up and see at http://www.twitter.com
Here are a couple of tips to get you started:
- If you want others to find you, use your real name and fill in the short biography about yourself – I use “nicolamcnee” and “librarian”.
- To find out what topics of interest are being discussed right now in real time use the twitter search http://search.twitter.com
- If you only want invited “followers” to read your “tweets” you can keep everything private by ticking the “protect my updates” box in the settings section (but that rather defeats the purpose of it all I think!)