Online Journalism: Fall 2010

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Twitter Assignment: 21 days

Twitter is a lot of things. One of them is that it’s very hard to explain. There’s one thing that is true though: It’s a new paradigm for communication and community, and it’s reaching critical mass.

Because of that, we’re going to do a deep dive into Twitter. The thing about Twitter is that it takes a little time to “get it” (and, even more importantly, what that “it” is will be different for each person). As a result, we’re going to follow the “21 days” concept: It takes 21 days of doing something regularly for it to become a habit.

So let’s form Twitter habits:

  • Starting by October 18th, you’ll need to sign up for an account on Twitter.
  • Follow me. My Twitter page is here. I will follow you back–though drop me an @ reply on twitter (that’s @dansinker) so I know you’re there, otherwise you may get lost in a new follower shuffle.
  • Also, post your twitter user name in the comments of this thread so that your classmates can find you.
  • You need to post to twitter at least 3 times a day. In addition, you need to @ reply to someone at least twice a day. That’s a MINIMUM of five tweets a day.
  • Follow new people every day. Here’s 10 good folks to get you started. Use Twitter Search to find other interesting people to follow (type in keywords of things that you find interesting, for example). I also find Google a great tool for finding people simply typing in their name followed by “twitter” tends to surface their Twitter account.
  • Every 3 days, in 140 characters, sum up what you’ve learned and include the hashtag #onlinej10 in your tweet. For example: retweeting can really spread a message quickly #onlinej10
  • Follow your classmates’ revelations by doing a twitter search for that hashtag
  • We’ll have a pretty good list of things we’ve learned on Twitter at the end of this experiment. Plus, you’ll have developed a pretty healthy Twitter habit by then.
  • At the end of our 21 days, write a 500 word summary of your time on Twitter, what you think it’s useful for, and how you see Journalism intersecting with it. That report will be due Friday November 12.

Another great thing about Twitter is that there are any number of ways to access it outside of the homepage. There are some great applications for accessing your tweets, like:
Tweetdeck
Tweetie
Twhirl
Twitteriffic

Twitter itself (and other people) makes excellent Apps for iPhone, Android, and Blackberry phones–check the respective app stores for those!

There are an almost countless list of interesting Twitter apps–The “app store” One Forty is fantastic for finding them.

Finally, one thing about having only 140 characters is that it makes it hard to paste in a real link. You’re going to need a URL shortener to do so. Personally, I like bit.ly, but people also use tinyurl and others.

For those just getting started on Twitter, there is an excellent guidebook published by Mashable. It’s online here.

See you on Twitter!

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Filed under: Homework

10 Responses

  1. Hi guys! My Twitter is @slblatt

  2. Chelsea says:

    @chelseakiddedie

  3. Stephanie A. Caspelich says:

    @scaspelich

  4. Frank Connors says:

    @fpc312

    Let the good times roll

  5. Nick Myers says:

    @nicholas_myers

  6. Ashley Murphy says:

    Hey everyone! My Twitter ID is @amurphy19 Thanks!

  7. Trevor Wilson says:

    @Trevor_27Wilson

  8. Nick Myers says:

    Here is my report on my Twitter experience.

    I found Twitter to be a lot of fun and very useful tool for keeping up with friends and websites/news sources. One of the things I quickly realized is that while it is a great source of information, it is most effective when it is used on a mobile device or if you are in front of a computer throughout the day. I do not have a smart phone and may only be on my computer a few minutes a day (especially weekends) to check email and the like. I found if I had not checked my Twitter for awhile that the messages would pile up and I’d be frantically reading over them and trying to catch up with what people had posted, replying to posts and re-Tweeting certain posts.

    I think Twitter is an extremely useful tool for journalists in the online age as I find that a lot of what good news sources do is not always original material, but making the user on their site aware of information on other sites via links. Twitter’s of-the-moment turnaround time (and use of shorted links) can get information distributed lightning fast to anyone who’s following. It seems like one of the fastest methods of information distribution around. Especially when you have those receiving the Tweets, then re-Tweeting them and on and on. I can imagine certain news stories becoming a phenomena on Twitter due to users passing the info on.

    I found I was able to learn about many new stories or events through Twitter I may not have known about previously. This was helped, in part, by my selection of who/what to follow, so that my interests were reflected in the Tweets I received.

    Twitter will become more commonplace for more and more people as mobile devices become the norm. With this in mind, it is an essential tool with which journalists should become familiar and engaged.

    I found in my Twitter experience (which I will continue to use) that a lot of what I was reading and responding to was my friends posts, as these were often the most prevalent among Tweets I received, but am sure if I took it from a more journalistic perspective (or if I was using Twitter in a work setting) that I would be Tweeting and re-Tweeting from more news-oriented sources.

    Overall, it was a good experience and I am glad I was able to get an idea of what Twitter is all about. As I said, I think I will continue using this form of social media.

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