Is Twitter a Waste of Time?

Every time I start talking about Twitter, I get the same response: “Why would I want to read short messages about what someone ate for breakfast?”.

You wouldn’t – but that is the wrong question to ask.  It is the same as asking “Why would I want to watch TV when there are soap operas on there?”  If you pick the most inane use of any technology, then of course it will seem like a waste of time.

So is it a waste of time? If you use it that way – then yes, it is.  If you have a bigger vision for it, then… no, it isn’t.

What is the bigger vision? Think problem solving, research, and breaking news.  Twitter users broke the miracle on the Hudson story, after all.

The New York Times has a good break down of what I am talking about with this article: Putting Twitter’s World to Use.  I was surprised to see that Twitter is now the third largest online social network behind FaceBook and MySpace.  No wonder I keep getting server errors from them :)

I love this quote from the Times article:

“Twitter reverses the notion of the group,” said Paul Saffo, the Silicon Valley futurist. “Instead of creating the group you want, you send it and the group self-assembles.”

What about Twitter in education?  Chris Duke taught a great session at the 2009 TxDLA conference called Learning With Microblogging and Twitter.  Some great ideas were shared in that presentation – you can see the session materials online here.

In fact, at TxDLA 2009, several people Twittered about internet problems at their hotel and received fast responses from the that hotel’s corporation.  Think nobody cares about Twitter? Think again.

Here is a TwitterFountain widget about TxDLA ’09 to help you sere some of the bigger vision:

Matt Crosslin
Matt is currently the Learning Innovation Coordinator with the UT Arlington LINK Research Lab. His research focuses on Learning Theory, Innovation, and learner empowerment. Matt holds a Ph.D. in Learning Technologies from the University of North Texas, a Master of Education in Educational Technology from UT Brownsville, and a Bachelors of Science in Education from Baylor University. His research interests include instructional design, learning pathways, sociocultural theory, heutagogy, virtual reality, and open networked learning. He has a background in instructional design and teaching at both the secondary and university levels and has been an active blogger and conference presenter. He also enjoys networking and collaborative efforts involving faculty, students, administration, and anyone involved in the education process.

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