I first signed up for twitter in April 2007 and I’ve been tweeting pretty much continually ever since; over 23,000 tweets and counting! It’s no exaggeration to say that, in terms of work, I would be lost without twitter. Twitter has become so fundamental to my work and my identity as an open educational practitioner that I genuinely don’t think I could do my job without it. Twitter is my workspace, it’s my office, it’s where I hang out with friends and connect to colleagues all over the world. It’s where I pick up news, find new ideas, and listen to fresh perspectives. It’s where continuous professional development happens. It’s where I learn. As someone who works remotely a lot of the time, twitter enables me to be part of a global connected community of open education practitioners.
Twitter is also an invaluable tool for communicating and disseminating educational events all kinds of. It’s second nature for me to live tweet every event I attend and if I can’t get online, I feel a bit lost. I find that live tweeting helps me to process what I’m listening to and the 140 character limit means I have to synthesise the ideas as I go along. Sometimes I get invited to live tweet events, such as the ALT Conference and the Day of Digital Ideas, in a more official capacity. Live tweeting in an official capacity requires a slightly different approach to live tweeting from my own account. When I live tweet on behalf of an event organiser I try to keep my tweets as factual, neutral and representative as possible. If I’m tweeting personally, I tend to tweet the points that interest or irritate me, adding my own thoughts and comments along the way. It feels quite different. If you’re interested in finding out more about how to use twitter to amplify academic events, here’s a presentation I gave at the Day of Digital Ideas at the University of Edinburgh: Using Social Media to Amplify Academic Events.
Despite the fact that twitter is such an important channel for me, I actually use very few twitter tools. I have tweetbot installed for occasions when I want to manage multiple accounts but I prefer to use the generic web interface. I do have a couple of lists set up, but I very rarely use them, I prefer not to filter as I love the random serendipity of my twitter feed. The only twitter tools I use with any regularity are Storify, for collating event tweets, and Martin Hawksey’s fabulous TAGs for archiving and visualising tweets associated with event hashtags.
Although I think of twitter as a work channel first and foremost, I tend not to filter what I tweet. I don’t just tweet about educational technology, I tweet about all kinds of things that interest me – naval history, poetry, sexuality and gender,tattooing, art, politics, rugby, whatever. These things are all part of my real life identity, so they’re part of my online identity too.