Intro to the Twitter Assignments
“#Hashtag” with Jimmy Fallon & Justin Timberlake
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 mode of communication without engaging with it. So, we are going to engage it over the course of the semester by using it in several ways:
- Live-tweeting class, as a way to engage our course-related work outside of class and conversations during class (start week 3),
- Sharing links, as a way of furthering our awareness of public discussions of topics related to our readings and assignments (start week 3), and
- Leveraging Twitter, as a way of spreading word about your research and locating possible interview subjects (start once your research has started)
As with all of Twitter (in one way or another), the goal is learning and sharing what we learn. But, Twitter is hard, at first. There is no set community (other than the one we have in class), as there is with Facebook. You have to go out and find it. We’ll discuss ways to do that. But, as with all things ultimately amazingly beneficial, the onus for success is on the individual user. The more time you put into seeking out people and engaging with them, the more amazing your experience will be.
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; 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 writer researching your subject
- make your account open for anyone to follow; having a locked account is essentially giving potential followers the finger. That might seem harsh, but that’s what it feels like when confronted with the little padlock icon. (If you are concerned about spam–and you should be–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. I use this quite often.)
- 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 @jcourtzy, everyone in the class:
- Any tweet that is about class in any way should include the #core2s14 hashtag
- explore and consider using a Twitter-related app from here or from here (there are hundreds), especially Twitter desktop and mobile clients, Tweetbot and Seesmic, or the Twitter mobile app
Part 1: Live-Tweeting Class Readings, Work, and Discussions
Course work 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 and our work outside of class, and create a collective experience of the work we’re doing, I would like you to “live tweet” as you complete course-related work outside of class, posting to Twitter whatever comes to your mind as you complete the work. 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 work outside of the classroom and then continue those discussions when we meet in the classroom. Add the #core2s14 hashtag to all “live tweets.”
There is no required number of tweets to tweet as your readings, work, or in-class discussions, but it is expected that each should garner many tweets. The more you tweet the more engaged the class can and will become in a dialogue outside the class. Do, however, be sure to make it clear what you’re reading, working on, or discussing. This can be done in the content of the tweet or by using a hashtag for an author’s name (such as #nutt), and so on. This is important because we want to be sure we know which text you’re tweeting about.
You should consider referencing the authors in your tweets. Search for our authors to see if they are on Twitter and if so, mention them if you want. For example, Amy Nutt is on Twitter @amyellisnutt. Mentioning her in tweets about her article could result in a response, as many students have been fortunate to receive in the past—often leading to discussions, such as:
Begin live-tweeting readings and work starting with readings for week 2 (if familiar with Twitter) or week 3 (if not familiar with Twitter) and continuing throughout the semester. A note on tweeting in class: I am a big proponent of students tweeting during class, but only if the class size is large enough to support some students tweeting class discussions and others engaging in the discussion. Because there are (at the time of writing) 13 students in this section of #core2s14 I’d like you to keep tweeting during class active but not excessive so the in-class discussion has everyone’s full attention.
Part 2: Core2 Mondays (#c2mondays)
Starting the Monday of the 3rd week of class I’d like each student to tweet links to 3 different articles, blog posts, or other writings, that in some way discuss, cover, illustrate, or further the ideas we are talking about in class. The whole article does not have to be on the subject of writing and research; rather, the article can have a component that is associated with writing, research, publishing, and so on. They can be related to the subject(s) you’ll be researching, but they don’t need to be. These tweets should contain the hashtags #core2s14 and #c2mondays. There are two main goals for this part of the Twitter assignment:
- to show the immediacy of the topics were are discussing in class
- to engage with the class ideas outside of class
To find your articles, do not merely search “research methods for writers.” Think about the topics that are discussed in the readings and search for them. Or, you may do some research on the author and link to something else they have written. Don’t shy away from scholarly articles, as well, which you can find on Google Scholar. The more nuanced and engaging the text you link to the most useful and effective it will be for class. You might also consider setting of a Google Email Alert for one of several topics that interest you and/or set up an account at IFTTT and create a recipe for when certain topics appear so you can be alerted when something is published. I’ve been using Zite daily for the past few months, which would be also be awesome for this. You choose interest areas and when you open the app, new articles in those areas are waiting for you. You could also set up an RSS reader, like Feedly, and a Read it Later service, like Pocket, install their phone and tablet apps, connect them to your Twitter account and tweet from the apps. Let the apps do the work for you.
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 after 5 years is still a work
in progress on hold) 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 #core2s14 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 #core2s14 Comments welcome!
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.
On Twitter @replies and RTs
The @reply is the oldest of the user-created functions of Twitter (when Twitter was released it didn’t have the @reply). Twitter has made the functionality of the @reply quite complex but here are some samples to help us along the way: When you @reply to a follower (or click the “reply” arrow under a tweet) the tweet will only be seen by those who follow both you and the person you are replying to:
If, however, you have something you want to say that you think that Tom and all your followers would like to see, there are several options:
These tweets, however, will not be seen by all of Tom’s or any of the @mention’s followers. If you’d like those people to see the tweets, you can either cc all of them by going through the follower list (a pain in the neck) or politely ask the person to retweet (RT) the tweet to their followers:
Retweet/RT/MT/Retweet to Followers
You will see retweets in your feed in a variety of formats as different Twitter apps employ different means of retweeting. The web site asks if you want to “retweet to your followers,” which just forwards on the tweet and adds a little icon letting your followers know it has been retweeted. To retweet a tweet to your followers, all you do is click the little retweet link under the tweet in your timeline. A pop-up window will appear asking you, “Retweet this to your followers?” Then click Retweet. This functions allows users to filter the kind of information they send forward. Some tweets will have an RT in front of it. The RT was created by the users; though it’s functionality has been abandoned by Twitter many of the Twitter apps still use it because the users like it. It allows you to comment before the tweet so you’re not just forwarding something on:
Some tweets will have an MT where an RT might go. MT stands for “modified tweet.” This happens when you want to RT a tweet but doing so exceeds the 140 character limit. By writing MT, you are indicating that you changed some of the words in the original but are keeping the original meaning intact:
In other instances you might see a tweet hat has quotation marks around it. This is a retweet that says, basically, that you are quoting a tweet:
All of these options succeed in doing the same thing: taking a tweet from a person you follow and sharing it with all your followers. Use each as needed depending on the goal of your tweet.
Please let me know if you have any questions.