wrt fall 2014 social media assignment: tweeting

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:

  1. as a way to engage our course-related work outside of class and conversations during class,
  2. as a way of furthering our awareness of public discussions of topics related to our readings and assignments,
  3. as a way to think about the role of images in social media, and
  4. as a way of spreading work about our blog posts to try to increase outside traffic to the blog.

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:

Part 1: Live-Tweeting Texts and Assignments

(This portion of the assignment is stolen and modified from Mark Sample at George Mason University, who stole it from Zach Whalen at the University of Mary Washington.)

Reading and working on assignments are often perceived as a solitary experiences but in our networked society it need not be. In order to help us all engage with the texts and our activities outside of class, and create a collective experience of our workings, I would like you to “live tweet” as you read / watch the assigned texts and work on assignments, posting to Twitter whatever comes to your mind as you read the texts and work on the assignments. By “whatever comes to your mind” I mean things that are about the text and/or what you are working on. 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 and what you’re working on outside of the classroom and then continue those discussions when we meet in the classroom. Add the #wrtf12 hashtag to all “live tweets.”

There is no required number of tweets to “live-tweet”; but 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 which reading or assignment 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 #morris), and so on. This is important because we want to be sure we know which text you’re tweeting about.

Begin live-tweeting starting with assigned texts for week 2 and continuing through handing the final draft of the last assignment of the semester.

Part 2: Writing, Research, and Technology Tuesdays (#wrtuesdays)

Starting the Tuesday of the second week of class (September 9) 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 viz rhet/multimodal comp; rather, the article can have a visual that enhances the article and illustrates, say, mapping. They can be related to the subject(s) you’ll be blogging about, but they don’t need to be. These tweets should contain the hashtags #wrtf14 and #wrtuesdays. 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 “visual rhetoric and multimodal composition.” 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 3: Twitpic and Instagram

to be added, starting with the Photo Essay assignment

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. retweet to followers 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.

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