‘Anyone who doesn’t love Twitter is an idiot’

These are not my words (although I may agree with them)!

In February I wrote about my experience of Twitter and how it has changed the way I work, think, and look at myself – Where would I be without Twitter. In it I looked back over 5 years, 24,000 tweets, +7000 followers, etc. I acknowledge it’s impact on my personal and professional outlook, some good and some not so good.

Dan Snow, the presenter and historian has gone further than me and pinned his thoughts on the use of Twitter in The Guardian article
‘Anyone who doesn’t love Twitter is an idiot’. Dan explains that, for him, the use of the Internet (including Twitter and other social tools) has brought otherwise lengthy or geographically inaccessible primary sources into easy access:

“Digitisation of archives means we can search records and primary source material from the comfort of our own offices … a perk of the job used to be that you could travel abroad and work in an archive somewhere quite glamorous for weeks on end. Now we stay at home and do it online. For me, though, even more exciting is how it has allowed us to reach out to people. It’s made history collaborative and accessible. I can tweet about what I’m working on, and people will suggest ideas or come up with documents. It has opened a pipeline between geeky history people like me and the rest of the world. We used to just publish in academic journals, now we can share our research with huge numbers of people.”

Our ability, through Twitter and other social networks, to connect quickly and easily is a game changer (as they say). For teachers this is bringing the subject not only to life but breathing authenticity and originality into subjects that has just not been possible before …  connecting children from different sides of the world through tools like blogs, wikis, messenger, Skype, etc. to learn about and from each other about their different cultures, background, religions, abilities, etc. as well as the similarities of their likes, hopes, dreams! It is a power we’ve never had,.

“Anyone who doesn’t love Twitter is an idiot. They’re being a ridiculous Luddite or taking a stance. Twitter is a way of filtering the news. You tailor your own timeline so who you follow reflects your interests. Mine is populated by politics and history. It’s a phenomenal news service, far better for me than any conventional news outlet because I built it myself. I’ve made new friends on Twitter, interacted with some incredible people, had some of my most satisfying professional experiences and found out lots of fascinating things about the world. It’s been a hugely enriching experience.”

I, like many, have the same discussions with academics about Twitter … “it’s all about coffee and celebrities!” is the common theme I hear. Trying to explain that it is what you want it to be is hard to do. Even going online and getting interactions going and showing the power of Twitter live and in the raw only goes some way to showing and highlighting the power of the network. It is only over time and with prolonged use that the real power can be seen and felt.

I am a huge fan of the 10 Days of Twitter programme from Helen Webster, and am really pleased to see so many other institutions implement and explore this as an approach to informing and engaging enthusiastic and reluctant academics in the advantages (and considerations and disadvantages) of using Twitter for research, connections, teaching, etc.

What are your thoughts about Twitter (and other networks)? Has it opened your eyes to possibilities otherwise unobtainable, or has it proved too much of a distraction?

Image source: Necklace (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)