I was twittering with @GinnyK today, and she is in a similar predicament to myself. We both have many Facebook friends who have no idea what Twitter is. At least 3 times a week, one of my FB friends asks me “What the heck is Twitter?” This is because I am a complete geek, so that means that my Twitter posts automatically update my Facebook status as “Sue is twittering….”.

@martin_english just posted on his blog about a boilerplate explanation of Twitter that has been posted at Smart Mobs. So I’ve decided, for the benefit of all of my FB friends who read my blog (which is also automatically linked on my FB page every time I update) to copy the boilerplate message here, so now I can just point people to this post whenever they want to know what the heck Twittering is.

Hopefully some of them will join the fun, too!

What Twitter Can Do For You

Hey Facebook Friend,

I was thinking it would be great if you had a presence in Twitter [ http://twitter.com ]. In a nutshell, Twitter is sort of like the Facebook status update and IRC chat rolled into a single social application where people write, read and respond in real time. The result is a kind of live collective unconscious of all those you follow.

Twitter posts, AKA “tweets,” are 140 characters in length including links. Think of online news headlines and you get the picture. I think of Twitter as a [your metaphor here] “sensibility subscription” because it allows me to subscribe to other people’s ongoing thoughts and activities and share my own.

Here’s a great animated video by Common Craft that explains it all much better than I can. It’s called “Twitter in plain English:” http://www.commoncraft.com/Twitter

One of the most popular uses of Twitter is as a micro content delivery system. Tools like Twitterfeed allow you to configure an RSS of your latest blog posts, magazine articles, website content, news, social bookmarks, flickr photos, etc. to your Twitter profile: http://twitterfeed.com

BBC, WIRED, Boing Boing, NYT and many other publications use Twitter as a means of extending their reach and expanding their audience. Here’s the BBC feed: http://twitter.com/bbc

Many educators have done interesting things with Twitter as well. University of Texas media professor David Parry is a Twitter-teaching pioneer: http://academhack.outsidethetext.com/home/2008/twitter-for-academia/

And Howard Rheingold has the most extensive collection of Twitter links I’ve seen:

Last but not least, here’s my Twitter …

If you were in Twitter, this is where you’d be:
Twitter.com/[your handle here]

Let me know if you’d like to Twitter. I’d be happy to help get you started.



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