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Sunday, April 25, 2010

what is twitter? - an introduction (pt. 2 of 4)

In this series of posts I am focusing on the use of Twitter at the General Assembly. Accordingly, the explanations and applications I offer are not exhaustive, but directed toward that end.  The series is in four parts: 
1. Twitter: An Analogy for the Non-Technical (and maybe for techies too!)
2. What is Twitter? - an introduction
3. Why Use Twitter? - 8 potential uses at GA 
4. How to Use Twitter? - step by step guide to getting started

    WHAT is Twitter? - An Introduction (pt. 2 of 4)

    Twitter is a micro-blogging platform. That simply means it allows you to publish information as short messages through a number of digital media. By its nature and usage it has a strong social element, inviting participants to share this information and filter it by topic, interest, relationship, or geography.

    By its nature, the information shared can be fragmented, though sorting tools and focused attention can sort and connect the information in useful (sometimes novel) ways. Fair analog comparisons include:
    • Bulletin board: with a broad glance, one can see information shared from a number of people on a limited range of topics (e.g. job opportunities or goods for sale)
    • Small group discussion: Twitter expands the group dynamic to allow multiple people to “talk” and “listen” and “respond” almost simultaneously. Further, it expands the practical number of people who can be involved (potentially into the hundreds), while giving each person equal opportunity to be heard.
    • Informal conversation: for many regular Twitter users, the ongoing conversation with a community creates a sense of friendship and relationship; those who are simply trying to sell something or use the system stand out like a salesman at fellowship hour.
    Said most simply, if one sees the importance at General Assembly of talking, listening, and responding, with a high value on relationships and community, Twitter provides a highly effective means to do so. Think of Twitter as a high-octane version of an ordinary conversation. If one communicates well with one person in the analogue world, there is potential to do so with 100 simultaneously through Twitter. (Conversely, if one doesn’t listen well or is simply trying to sell something, that trait will probably be amplified 100x through Twitter.)

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