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"Twitter is a free communication and social networking tool which allows you to convey short messages of up to 140 characters to your circle of friends via the Twitter website, SMS, email, IM, or other Twitter client. Messages appear not only within your profile on Twitter, but are sent to your community of followers who have signed up to receive your updates."


  • networking with geographically distant colleagues
  • allows for passive interactions - don't have to friend another user most of the time
  • plays well with other services like Google Reader, Flickr and Facebook
  • lots of different clients
  • don't have to have Twitter account to follow information on Twitter - can simply subscribe to a public feed

  • a fair amount of downtime due to external attacks, major news events and/or failure of other popular services tends to result in overload of Twitter itself
  • default Twitter settings only show a few weeks of one's own timeline and the built-in search only searches a few weeks of the full Twitter timeline
  • archiving tools still developing
  • can be overwhelming in volume, can splinter one's attention and decrease one's productivity if one doesn't develop methods for managing one's use of it.

Good Uses (or at least good starts):

  • Mashable's list of the major clients:
  • Features to consider include whether a client can update other social networks, whether it threads conversations in Twitter and whether it allows you to manage multiple accounts.
  • I've tried about 6 or 7 different clients myself and so far have settled on Nambu because it threads conversations.  However, they're developing a new version of the software and no downloads are available.

Backing up Twitter:


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Very helpful Amy! The last con that you mentioned is the big reason why I don't use it more often as well as other social networking technologies. Do you have any recommendations for conveniently and efficiently managing all our social networking accounts?

Here is a interesting blog post about the media literacy skills we (and our students) need to make use of Twitter and other such tools.

"Twitter Literacy (I refuse to make up a Twittery name for it)"
Read more:

I have added links to various twitter clients in the entry. However, as the article Kate links to attests, management of one's attention is a highly individualized process.

So, to make Twitter, Facebook, IM, RSS feeds or any other tool work for you, you need to be conscious of how you like to get things done.

For example, when I first signed up for Twitter and could get updates delivered by IM, I did NOT like it. Every update would make my Gmail Tab blink in an infuriating way I found impossible to ignore.

Now, when I'm concentrating, I find I don't notice the Nambu updates at all. And if I want to be extra sure to stay focused, I simply turn it off altogether.

Conversely, if I'm working on a tedious project where my attention will wander anyway, I find the little breaks from new posts to help me maintain attention to detail and make fewer mistakes.

I totally agree with your comment per Howard's article. Twitter as it was initially designed (e.g., "what are you doing now") was self-centered and generally not very valuable. Just like consuming any other media, effective Twitter use is definitely a form of media literacy.

Fortunately, as it has been re purposed by users, I am able to follow those whom I respect in my interest areas, keep up with their insight, and they are able to reference sources that support their ideas in an intimate setting. I know that courses have added websites and blogs as digital writing assignments, and I would like to see social media tools like Twitter be considered likewise in ways that engage readers.

Twitter is pretty fun. It’s basically like status updates on Facebook or MySpace. It’s 140 character updates that you send out via the interface or a host of desktop interfaces for PCs. Personally, I use Twhirl and Tweetdeck.

Aw, this was a really nice post.In idea I would like to put in writing like this additionally – taking time and actual effort to make a very good article… but what can I say… I procrastinate alot and by no means seem to get something done.

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