About the Assignment
Blogging is when people publish their ideas for a (mostly) unknown audience in posts of any length. Twittering (or micro-blogging) is when people publish their ideas in a much shorter format to a (mostly) known audience. The Twitter tweet (the name of each post) is 140 characters long. Just as with blogging, one cannot fully grasp the medium without engaging with it. So, we are going to engage it over the course of the semester by using it, first, as a way to engage our readings outside of class and, second, connect to people who are in fields or have a general interest in areas relating to our research project. These connections will lead us to learning more about our topic from more diverse means than we could have ever thought. It will also provide us with the opportunity to interview someone associated with our research topic (a requirement of the assignment).
So, to get this project under way, we are going to complete the following:
- create a Twitter account that is not anonymous and has as short a username as possible (short usernames save precious characters; just as with Facebook, Twitter values authenticity; you will not gain followers and people will not let you follow them without authenticity; if you already have a Twitter account with an pseudonym for your username be sure your real name is associated with the account)
- create a professional bio that locates you as a researcher writing an article about your topic and a grad student
- make your account open for anyone to follow; having a locked account essentially tells your audience that you would rather not know who they are and results in them not requesting the your follow approval (if you are concerned about spam and/or who is following, in the Settings enable the option to get an email whenever you have a new follower; this will allow you to see when someone follows and to Block them if necessary)
- add a link to your research blog
- add a photo of yourself or something that you feel represents you or your project in some way
- follow @billwolff, Writing Arts professor @jcourzy, and everyone in the class:
- follow other (current and former) Masters in WA grad students on Twitter:
- Follow the core2s13 list
- Any tweet that is about class in any way should include the #core2s13 hashtag.
Part 1: Live-Tweeting Readings
Reading is often perceived as a solitary experience but in our networked society it need not be. In order to help us all engage with the texts outside of class, and create a collective experience of our reading, I would like you to “live tweet” as you read, posting to Twitter whatever comes to your mind as you read the texts. By “whatever comes to your mind” I mean things that are about the text itself. Try to limit tweets like, “This article is boring. #yawn,” as such tweets will make to look foolish and show little thought about the text itself. You should @reply to other class members frequently so that we can begin discussions about the texts outside of the classroom and then continue those discussions when we meet in the classroom. Add the #core2s13 hashtag to all readings “live tweets.”
There is no required number of tweets to tweet as you read, but it is expected that each text should garner several tweets. The more you tweet your readings and work the more engaged the class can and will become in a dialogue outside the class. Do, however, be sure to make it clear which reading you’re tweeting about. This can be done in the content of the tweet or by using a hashtag for an author’s name (such as #syverson), and so on. This is important because we want to be sure we know which text you’re tweeting about.
Part 2: Leveraging Twitter for Research
A quick example of the possibilities offered by leveraging twitter for research. On August 1, 2009, I tweeted:
Do any of you know anyone who can translate English to a Baghdad dialect of Arabic? If so, please DM me. Thanks!
— Bill Wolff (@billwolff) August 1, 2009
I had been working on a new play, Shingles (which is still a work in progress) and needed help with a scene that took place in Iraq. From this tweet, I received numerous responses, the first of which came from @bigmotaha. We DMed a bit. I emailed him my draft. He left a message on my work voicemail, sharing his ideas. We emailed a bit and he then put me in contact with a friend of his, Z.S., an Iraqi now living in the US who for 5 years worked as a translator for the Marines and Army. Z.S. and I spoke a few times on the phone. He helped me better understand what happens in Iraqi when houses are raided. We also spoke about some of his experiences. He translated the English into Arabic and back into English transliteration. Without his help (and without Twitter) that section of the play would not be anywhere near as nuanced as it now is.
- Read “How I Got a Six-Figure Twitter Following (and Why It Doesn’t Matter)” by @janefriedman and read closely the parts where she connects blogging and tweeting.
- Begin following people in fields directly related to your research study. You can start out by finding them by conducting searches at Twellow, Twitter Search, Listorious, Google, and by seeing who people follow. You can also check out these two posts: Top 100 Edu Tweeters and 100 Professors You Should Follow and Learn from on Twitter. There is no required number of people to follow, but if you are using Twitter effectively, by the end of the semester I suspect you will be following upwards of 100 people (or a hundred more than you currently follow).
- tweet an announcement of each of your blog posts including the link to it and #core2s13 hashtag; when tweeting be sure to use a URL shortener, such as http://j.mp. I suggest the following accepted format: New blog post: “add post title” include URL to the post #core2s12 Comments welcome!
- explore and consider using a Twitter-related app from here or from here (there are hundreds), especially Twitter desktop clients, Tweetdeck and Seesmic
- update your bio to reflect that you are researching your particular topic, add a link to your blog, and upload a photo (people without photos are thought to be spam)
- and if you have yet to add a tagline to your blog and update the title to your full name with spaces, please do so, and update your About page to reflect you are and what you will be researching
Have fun with this part of the project. If you fully engage with it and use it to share information you will meet outstanding people who will enhance your research and your writing, overall.
Please let me know if you have any questions.