Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Why Tweet? Part 2: Seven Trending Tweet Styles

Affordances and Constraints

All tools get appropriated by users and much depends on the user’s awareness of the affordances and constraints of the tool.  A lot would also depend on the tinkering confidence of the user.  Does the tool fit the schema of other tools?  I’ve been watching kids and adults approach technology for the last few years and how a tool get’s used reveals an incredible amount of information about the user.  Twitter is no exception, everyone adopts the tool and adapts to the tool differently, and there are endless types of tweets.  Here are some of the common themes from the conference.

The What He Said Tweet

Sancho Panza, Watson, Tanto, Robin, Flavor Flav, Looney Tunes… the sidekick lineup starts to look like a #L4LAASSA keynote gender statistic.  It would be interesting to analyze tweets by gender and find out if the majority of What He Said tweets are from men.  As you probably guessed, this tweet praises the speaker by tweeting out the message, usually word for word.  This can get highly competitive being the first with the message, don’t get too serious on this.  Think Homo Ludens, a healthy competition between participants.  One might argue this is a form of close listening and a theme throughout Common Core Reading Standards, prioritizing important details.  This collaborative public note taking provides meaningful content for later processing and reflection (more on this later).

The Come Join Tweet

One of my favorites.  You’ve met them, or maybe read about them in The Tipping Point, the connectors, the ones who feel a responsibility for introductions, who take pride in seeing what happens when you put the right people together.  They gravitate toward EdCamps, unconferences, Twitter chats, and the social arena of conferences.  They have a sixth sense for dispersed knowledge groupings and often tweet with multiple tags.  They are strangely absent from non-innovative, highly hierarchical, silo environments.  We would all wander in the darkness without them.  I think they are the smartest of the bunch.  In that crazy dancer video, he would have just been dancing alone, someone had to move others towards him.

The Documentarian Tweet

Enabled by the ubiquity of video and photographic devices, these Tweeps capture more than just the presenter’s best moments, they document the event from both participant and observer perspectives.  Just like in extreme sports how they use the immediacy of digital feedback to review prototypes and ideate the next move, these tweets focus on both process and products within events.  They teach how to make learning visible, especially the larger learning outcomes that may not be evident in final products.

The Content Share Tweet

The open source movement is revolutionizing the traditional chain of production in educational content.  90% of what I consume from Twitter is the content (more in the next post under “Flipboard”, “Pocket”, and “Diigo”).  These futurists believe in the hive knowledge building of the web, and know that our closed learning management systems will eventually evolve into open systems of collective intelligence.  They also scare the bajeezus out of clingers to the edu-corporate dissemination of content model.  The future is open.

The Dialectic Tweet

Often quickly followed by the Yes, and... Tweet, these tweets come too few and too far between.  Conferences of the future should plant these contentious tweeters throughout the event.  Twitter can become an echo chamber of like-minded individuals, but the dialectic is critical to learning.  These are great opportunities to have a polite public debate stepping carefully around wording that potentially escalates into flaming.  Improv Yes, and… strategies of acknowledging and moving forward to your point can keep the critical discussion flowing.  I think something important to keep in mind is realizing the constraints of the tool here as well.  Twitter is great for making points known, not for long processing of complex arguments.  There is nothing to win in Twitter, only exchange of ideas.

The Provoking Question Tweet

Twitter is a narrative of event, it is open source content, but it is also an ongoing conversation.  It took me a long time to get comfortable with building on other’s tweets, on actually using the tool in a socio-cultural constructivist way.  It’s like a slow motion socratic method that requires a focus on the response of the moment.  Don’t try and keep up with every tweet, find the one that provokes you inside and go from there.  Some of these “blink” responses can surprise, tap into an expressive flow for later reflection (see Disruptive Dialogue in next post).

The This is Me Tweet

Or, the Branding Tweet. Social media is riddled with false narrative, of the carefully constructed public persona.   I would hope that people leave that for Facebook.  Take risks with Twitter, tweet what you read, what you observe, what you react to, what you feel strongly about.  The modern resume is a transmedia creation.  You can groom your work history, your professional video clips, and photo galleries apart, let this part be your sketchpad, where you play with ideas, where you make thinking and learning visible.  Tweet shamelessly and professionally.  And contrary to what some say, it is OK to have multiple Twitter accounts, I have five!  One for micro-blogging, one for weekly chats and more informal communication, and three are collectives shared with small groups (Journeys in Podcasting, elementary tech department, and EdCamp Bogota).

These are definitely not all the types of tweets, only a quick intro into some common trends.  We didn’t even touch upon emojis to summarize our presentations and research, hopefully that will be mandated at “RE” in Brazil next year.

In the next Post, where to go next...

  • how Twitter is the ultimate for content curation
  • how to revisit this last conference with a completely different lens
  • how to attend conferences on the other side of the world
  • how to keep the charge and momentum of the conference going all year
  • how to use tweets for long form processing
  • how Twitter is your PD companion
  • and why Twitter will dissolve hierarchies and create agile systems in education

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