So, this quarter, I read 4 student researched essays on the popularity of Facebook or Twitter.  All four were excellent: good research, thoughtful analysis of the causes and effects (without going into the usual “the world will end” or “this stuff is awesome” conclusion that often sometimes happens with cause/effect analysis essays).

The students who focused on Twitter both joined Twitter as part of their “research” and they convinced me to join, too (the fact that Rosemary Feal of the MLA is twittering in anticipation of the convention this year also enticed me to join). 

Both students noted the phenomenon of odd strangers “following” them, and that most of the tweets were the usual Facebook-like status updates about Seinfeldian nothingness.  One student concluded that Twitter seemed to be more common with “older” people (you know, those of us older than 25) than with people his age (18ish) and that they used Twitter to connect on professional issues or to keep up with whatever sort of news that interested them.

Since I told both students I had joined  Twitter, and showed them my home page (or whatever it’s called), they both “interviewed” me, novice user, as part of their research, pointing out with some glee that after 3 months I only had 3 followers, and only followed 6 others, 5 of them professionally-related organizations, including the MLA.  {Note: neither student asked to follow me, thankfully.}

So, what have I concluded about Twitter? Well, it is amusing to read Rosemary’s tweets promoting the convention (see the Hurston film! buy the cool MLA t-shirts! go to this panel!). And I can see instant updates from The Chronicle or Inside Higher Ed.  And my one friend is quite witty with her tweets.

But  in all of those cases, I’d much prefer to read the blogs: I can read a more detailed overview of a Chronicle or Inside Higher Ed story in Google Reader; I can find out more about my friend’s subway incident on her Facebook page; and Rosemary can give a much more vivid sense of what is happening in Philly during the convention on the convention blog she promises to do again this year.  140 characters can point elsewhere or provide a quick moment of wit, but no, it doesn’t quite satisfy.

Since I so rarely remember to check Twitter, I decided to read Rosemary’s tweets the old fashioned way: by subscribing to them in Google Reader.

Twitter: Twitterdee or Twitterdum? Discuss (in more than 140 characters, please).

14 responses to “Twitterdee

  1. I’d love for somebody to Wordle all of the tweets from people at the MLA this year. Wondering what the biggest word would be.. (Wordle is a program that lets you make word clouds of documents. I once Wordled and essay twice, once before and after its publication. Very interesting.)

  2. Oh, I didn’t realize it was called “Wordle” but I do know what you mean. There is Twitter group (nowviskie/dh-mla-tweetup) that seems to be made up of very techie folks who will be twittering at the MLA: maybe they can do it.

    So what happened when you Wordled your essay, Pocha?

  3. I have signed up for Twitter a few times but almost immediately cancelled. It feels like I’m repeating what I already do on Facebook and on the blog and I don’t feel like I can keep up with anything else…

    Either that or I’m just not cool enough to tweet.

  4. Interesting perspective! Thanks for reading my tweets and my blog. Lots of people ask me questions on Twitter, and I’m pleased to get them answers quickly. That makes it interactive in a way I hadn’t anticipated.

  5. Pingback: Tweets that mention Twitterdee « From the Mixed Up Bloggings of Annie Em --

  6. Rosemary Feal: you tweet, you blog, you READ blogs, you run that little organization–you know the one. I’m incredibly humbled that you stopped by and commented.

    And you do bring up a good point: those on Twitter seem to comment more regularly than those who read blogs. For example, today, 65 folks have visited this blog, yet only 3 have commented. Perhaps because of the 140 character limit, more people feel comfortable sending out a reply tweet or a question than writing a comment (which, of course, is not only not length-limited, but there is some odd unspoken expectation in the blogosphere that comments much be witty, thoughtful, etc etc).

    I read both your tweets and, I anticipate, your Philly blog: thank you for keeping the conversation going.

  7. And Ink, you are of course quite cool: ice cool (Hey Ya!). I tend to read Tweets more than post them: even on FB, I can’t limit myself to 140 characters! (and wherever did they get that number?)

  8. Wow, Auntie Em, you are in the big leagues now! Very cool.

    I’ve never Tweeted and cannot see the appeal. But, that’s precisely what I said about blogging and Facebook, and see how I’ve fallen prey … so I guess it’s only a matter of time before I’m Tweeting away with the rest of the 25 and older crowd.

  9. Ink: Chica! A very good friend of mine (we’ve been friends for over 20 years) calls me Chica: I just got chills reading that, GOOD chills. And yes: where DID 140 characters come from? Oddly, neither student mentioned that info in his/her researched essay….

    Hi BSGirl: Let me know when/if you ever do join Twitter. It’s so very different than blogging and FB, and serves such a different purpose. I suppose that is my point: at its best, it’s like texting information (meet me here, I’m over there, this is cool) rather than blogging (let me ponder, describe, explain, emote, rant) or FB (see my cool pics! hi mom!) 😉

    I’m actually curious how Rosemary Feal found the posting: is there something on the Internet that tracks references to the MLA even on little blogs on WordPress??

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