[amended from Brian Croxall]
Twitter is a writing platform, but simpler. It's similar to a Facebook status update, except you're only allowed to post entries that are 140 characters long. This is because Twitter was designed to work via cellphone text messaging. You can update Twitter from your phone as well as "follow" people on Twitter (and they can follow you back). Updates come to your phone (or online) instantly. You get real-time updates from peers and others you are interested in knowing what they are doing.
To create and sustain further conversation this semester, all students are required to maintain active presence on Twitter for a minimum of four weeks. One post (or tweet) per weekday is required, but there is freedom regarding content. Students are welcome to post original thoughts, "retweet" classmates' updates, @ (mention/reply to) classmates, and share course-relevant links with the course hashtag. Posts unrelated to course content are okay, but these will not count toward the requirement. I am very active on Twitter, so I encourage all students to check my profile (as well as those I follow) for potential models of engagement.
But why are we doing this? Because this is a writing course and Twitter is sort of a new kind of writing. Perhaps Twitter can help us learn better clarity and concision. Furthermore, employers in a variety of fields and industries are interested in hiring employees who are social-media savvy. Knowing how to use Twitter could even help you get a job. I'm also curious, though, to see if using Twitter changes the culture or society of the class in any appreciable way.
So, if you haven't joined Twitter, join Twitter. You should also:
- Create a profile. In your username or bio (or both), use your real name (e.g., my username is "betajames," but have my real name in the bio section). Don't forget to upload a picture!
- Make your profile public. If you already have a Twitter account that is private and would prefer to keep it that way, create a new account for this class. (If your profile is private, classmates cannot search for you and your course-related tweets won't appear in the archive I set up.)
- Find and follow all members of our class (students and professor). (I'll try to make this easier by sharing a full list of users.)
- Search for and follow some other interesting people, such as @barackobama, @ConanOBrien, @shakira, and/or @TheScienceGuy. Consider following different services that provide updates, too, like @CNN or @FOXNEWS.
- Post at least once a weekday from Thursday, January 5 to Tuesday, January 31. When posting about our class, please use the course hashtag. This will allow us to better track one another's tweets.
- Consider connecting your cellphone or smartphone to Twitter to get real-time updates. Having phone updates is not required for this assignment, but it could be helpful. Regular text messaging fees do apply.
- Get into the habit of checking Twitter at least once a day. (Don't worry about keeping up, though. Just see what's happening when you check in. Think of Twitter as a river of information. Dive in and you might get swept away; stick in a toe, or even a whole foot, and you should be fine.)
- Post an evaluation of Twitter (and how we used it) on your blog (due Tuesday, January 31). As a class, we will decide whether or not to keep using Twitter for the rest of the semester. This assignment and the subsequent evaluation will be assessed on the same basis as everything else in this class, i.e., if you make an honest effort to play along, you will be in accordance with the grading contract.
Here are some other interesting ways to use Twitter:
- There are a number of desktop and smartphone applications for using Twitter. They’re very easy to find and most are free.
- You can sync your Twitter updates to your Facebook status. Just install the Twitter application on Facebook.
- Use your cellphone camera in conjunction with Twitpic, Yfrog, Instagram, or other such services.