Thursday, March 05, 2009

Not Getting Twitter

The above video is funny. There is nothing wrong with that. What it points out though is how difficult it can be to understand new technology. There is nothing interesting about Twitter. It is a very simple tool. It allows users to post 140 character messages and follow others. It doesn't always even do that very well. The real power in Twitter is not the technology but the network, and that is everything. The networks that can emerge in Twitter can be very powerful. They can also be inane - a lot depends on the intention and critical thinking skills of the user. If you want to use it to socialize with your friends, there is nothing wrong with that. But Twitter can be used to build professional and learning networks of great power. It can be a living encyclopedia, job board, emergency network, political action coordinator, or problem-solving tool. There is nothing superficial or mundane about that! If you are interested, look at the HIM101 materials on this blog (Health Information Management) to see what I think are some effective uses of Twitter. Even users of technology are not always clear on why a piece of technology is successful or useful. I know instructors who use Second Life very effectively who still think that the novelty or "fun" is the primary reason it works so well as a teaching and learning platform. That is the shiny surface - it is really the connections that people are able to make - the community building that makes all the difference.

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