Archive for Twitter Diary of a Tweeting Novice
Dedications: This week is dedicated to all of you who love to or would love to chat in your virtual Twitter space.
Comment:In last week’s Twitter diary we examined one of the issues around using twitter for live tweeting at events. What I want to do this week is discuss the apps you need to set up a #Chatforum and look at ways in which it can be used. Any other ideas are greatly appreciated.)
Special Feature: Apps. and other bits and bobs needed in order to set up a chat forum
Three essential apps that are needed from my analysis of chat forums on twitter are:
(i) a place where people can vote on what to chat about. The one I have liked the most is :
TWT POLL (by 63 squares)
This allows you to create polls or surveys with 17 different question format options. It is easy to use and also displays results in easy to follow pie charts. You can also embed the poll or survey into your blog or website making your posts more interactive. For a more in depth look, watch the TWTPOLL demo below:
ii) an app to help you monitor the conversation as it happens in real time:
With TweetChat you can follow any #Chat or you can create your own by logging in using your twitter account user name. It allows you to enter a certain chat room and join the conversation. You can also retweet, reply etc. at the same time within this application. The beauty of TweetChat is that even though the conversation happens in real time you can pause the conversation allowing you to reply to the chat stream you wish to.
iii) a place to archive chat conversations so that they can be turned into transcripts or summarized after the event: My choice for a free apps would be:
This allows you to archive the tweets during your chat sessions and then use the archive to share with the participants or to add summaries or comments.
Essential Bits and Bobs
You need several people to help facilitate the conversation, which is fast and furious, and to make sure that people’s tweets in the chat remain in the #Chat forum. I found it really difficult the first time I took part to remember the # and the kind moderators kept adding it and putting my comment into the forum. (Thank you #ELTChat)
This is a great opportunity to invite guest speakers or experts to spice up your chat forum.
Whether you are an organizer of a chat forum or a participant it is important to understand the usual customs involved with chatting. There are two great blog spots on this topic based on your role in the chat forum:
The moderator/organiser: Mark Collier.com: 10 steps to creating a successful Twitter chat
The chat participant: Heidi Cohen’s: How to be a Twitter Chat Champion
3 uses for your # virtual chat forum
- To allow for people within your interest group to follow each others conversation on a 24/7 basis
- To have a set chat day and time where people can meet in your chat room to discuss a chosen issue before, during and after an event
- To have a live stream during your event or conference either within sessions or during the breaks
HEALTH REPORT: State of nails (none existant)
I am feeling excited and rather nervous as we launch our Chat forum for our conference over on @EclipsingX. Will keep you posted on my progress in this new Twitter adventure.)
Week 3 of the Twitterwatch-PART 1:To Tweet or not to Tweet? That is the question!(@courtesy of Shakespeare.)
Wordle depicting the tweeting debate with kind thanks to Karenne Sylvester
This week is dedicated to Chaouki M’Kaddem (AKA @Chaoukiboss) the catalyst who started us thinking about online possibilities, Scott Thornbury (AKA@thornburyscott) and Adam J. Simpson (AKA @yearinthelifeof)– who have generously shared their thoughts for this blog– and for Karenne Sylvester (AKA @kalinagoenglish) who allowed me to make a wordle of her blog post discussing some of the issues of live chat and Twitter. The words in bright pink are the key words taken from Karenne’s wordle above and will appear throughout this post. So without further ado let’s kick off this discussion by having a look at the dictionary corner .
A tag cloud(n. phr.)-prominent words mentioned in a blog or article etc. arranged in a cloud formation
A wordle (n.)- an artistic representation of prominent words represented in various cloud formations and colour schemes. (see above for example and link)
PLN (abrv.) – your Personal Learning Network and not planet as I originally guessed! See Twitter for Teachers video below from Edublog:
A live twitter chat forum-this is a typed discussion happening around a # (hash tag i.e. #ELTChat/#EDChat). It allows multiple users to follow and discuss a topic collectively and also to respond to different comments as they happen in real time.– Part 2 of this blog next week will look at the various applications you can use to create a chat platform so watch this space.)
This week’s diary is centered on — as you may have guessed– the issues surrounding live Twitter chat platforms at public speaking events, in particular conferences.
*The Beginning of January:
I had just come on line during the #DOS conference and saw tweets from Shaun Wilden(AKA @Shaunwilden tweeting live from various plenaries. I was intrigued to find out what was going on. So I followed the conference and this then led me to start thinking about how this could be used for our own conference to create remote access. The live tweeting option through Twitter seemed like a great idea and I was enthused to put it into practice. I also came across Karenne Sylvester’s post on Kalinago English entitled Common Courtesy and Conferences, where there was quite a debate about live tweeting. So this got me thinking even more.
*The 9th of January:
I watched Jeremy Harmer’s blog post: Are presenters in peril? Is Twitter to Blame? as it unfolded during the day. Both these posts made me realize the presenter‘s perspective and I am still undecided whether live tweeting at a conference style event is appropriate. Part 1 of this diary considers live tweeting from the perspective of different people involved:
A PLENARY SPEAKER:
Scott Thornbury generously took the time to answer some questions about this issue. Read on for his thoughts below:
As a speaker, what advantages and disadvantages do you see to live tweeting during conference sessions?
Quite frankly, I don’t see many advantages, apart from the free publicity involved, especially if the tweeter has a big following. I don’t quite understand the necessity of broadcasting a running commentary of a conference presentation as if it were “breaking news”, nor do I think that the constraints of twitter (140 characters) are the best way of capturing “talk as it happens”, and doubt that the twitter feed would really be an adequate representation of the complexity and depth of a good presentation.
Another negative, although this doesn’t affect me so much as a speaker, is that the inevitable loss of concentration, due to divided attention, means that the person tweeting is unlikely to be getting as much out of the session as if they were simply listening. Defenders of tweeting claim that it is no more distracting than taking notes. But I would argue that note taking is essentially a private way of scaffolding one’s own evolving understanding, whereas tweeting –in that by definition it involves other parties–is interactive, and hence has the potential of claiming more attentional resources on the part of the tweeter. In this sense, tweeting belongs to that genre of activities like texting, talking to one’s neighbour, taking mobile phone calls, and sending notes –i.e. all interactive, and often considered impolite in company. And even if tweeting were a purely private activity, at the level of taking notes, why would anyone else want to read these private notes? Personally, at the receiving end, I find these Twitter feeds from conferences fairly incoherent and distracting, and I always turn Twitter off when they start.
Under what circumstances do you agree to live tweeting/ blogging in your presentations?
I would never disagree to it –as a speaker it doesn’t distract me– and if it distracts people in the vicinity, I guess they can always move. But I would never agree to a live twitter feed being broadcast on a screen adjacent to where I’m giving the presentation. I would not want to be competing with a kind of communal stream of consciousness prompted by my own delivery.
Under what circumstances do you feel uncomfortable with live tweeting/blogging in your presentation?
I think I’ve already answered this.
After your presentation do you search the tweets and live blogs and comment on any entries? Why/why not?
No. Life is too short!
Have you ever given a live chat session online after your presentations to allow remote users to connect with you? Why or why not?
I’ve not done exactly this, although I have participated in webinars and the like, where the presentation is followed by online Q&A.
Would you ever consider giving a summary of your session that could be posted on a conference blog to allow for comparisons between the live feed and your own thoughts? Why/Why not?
No, although I make my PowerPoint slides available on my website.
A CONFERENCE ORGANIZER
As one of the conference committee organizers for Sabanci University School of Languages’ Conference this year, what advantages and disadvantages do you see to live tweeting during conference sessions?
For me our job is like a tight rope walker. There is a need to balance the needs of sponsors, presenters and plenary speakers, the participants on site during the conference and keeping up with all the new technology and mediums to allow engagement for all kinds of conference users. In a university setting there is a also a need to consider equal access for all due to our social responsibility to those who cannot attend or cannot afford to attend. In all honesty, I think there are more advantages than disadvantages.
For me personally the advantages are:
- it allows people to have remote access who might not have it otherwise
- it increases sponsorship possibilities so that we can bring presenters to the conferences
- participants in the auditorium can engage in a medium that suits them
- the transcripts afterward can lead to further interesting and fruitful discussion beyond the conference
- it generates interest around the speaker (I have to admit Scott that I read your blog: An A-Z of ELT, after following #DOSconference)
- it also allows for a real time stream of consciousness which is also an alternative to a conference proceedings published after the conference.
- on an environmental note we increase participation virtually, thus reducing our carbon footprint!
There are disadvantages though:
- Speakers might feel under pressure to agree to live tweeting whether they agree with it or not
- For some presenters it might result in a loss of concentration or even motivation to speak if everyone is looking at their computers or telephones.
- There is a possibility that some tweeters post unflattering comments (although I haven’t seen any evidence of this yet) during the tweets, or misinterpret what is said.
Under what circumstances would you agree to live tweeting/ blogging in conferences?
I think essentially the presenter has to be comfortable with live tweeting, so I would not want people to tweet if the presenter had said ‘no’. I also think that it is the conference’s job to allow speakers to have the option whether tweeting takes place and to have a code or symbol next to the presenter’s name in the conference programme so it is clear where tweeting is possible. Presenters should also have the option to make this decision without facing opposition or being worried about participant’s reactions. I also think that a transcript needs to be made available on the website and for the speaker to be invited to read and comment on it if they wish too. This would remove the worry of misinterpretation of presentations and allow for further discussion. The other aspect I want to add is that the technology is so new that I don’t think we understand it yet, and therefore it is important to keep discussing this issue.
With this in mind lets now turn to:
A TWEETER, BLOGGER and HELPING TO DEVELOP A SOCIAL NETWORK PRESENCE FOR OUR CONFERENCE – ADAM J. SIMPSON (Aka @yearinthelifeof)
Having read the above comments on this issue, I think that there is a real and clear dichotomy between what ‘damage’ that live tweeting may cause and the benefits it may bring. I recently made the following analogy on the ever excellent Karenne’s blog (on the post mentioned above):
‘If someone invented a ‘super participation’ drug that made us a great audience member but could only be taken via an injection directly into the eyeball, we’d probably think we were doing a great service to presenter by shooting up at the start of the session. Nevertheless, such action would be quite disturbing to a) the uninitiated, and/or b) those who’d find the practice distasteful. Illicit tweeting is very much the same, without the needle in the eyeball, admittedly.’
One thing that I think we can all agree on is that this phenomenon isn’t going to disappear. In effect, it now has the feeling of being one of those things that we’ve only realised in hindsight that was always going to happen as soon as someone thought it up.
Sharon and I have already had several conversations about how to ‘deal with’ the issue of live tweeting at our upcoming conference. We’re really looking to come up with a solution that clarifies the situation for all involved parties. One thing we’re toying with is the idea of signposting each session to make the policy clear to all. This might manifest itself with signs such as these (or not, as this is just an idea):
I’ve literally just cobbled those images together quickly while writing my ideas up, so feel free to offer input about how you’d feel about such signs being used (I reiterate that this is just an idea that is flying around at present).
As a presenter, you don’t have to worry about it happening, and as an audience member you immediately know where you stand. Right, having now addressed that issue, let’s get down to the nitty gritty of how I think you should go about tweeting at a conference.
Don’t alienate those who aren’t interested
The # hashtag is one of the miracles of the Twitterverse, so use it wisely. Basically, a # hashtag is how issues / areas of specific interest can be followed among the megastream of consciousness on Twitter (see Sharon’s earlier Twitter diaries for further explanation). This is your opportunity to make it perfectly clear what you’re tweeting about.
What do I mean? Well, there’s a big difference between ‘I’m watching Mr. X discuss issue Y’ and ‘#Exclipsing-X-Conference (this doesn’t exist (yet), I’m just exemplifying) I’m watching Mr. X discuss issue Y’. Those followers who aren’t interested can easily skip these tweets. Give your followers a bit of help.
Remember: you’re not in a war zone
Those who tweeted about the recent IH DoS conference in the UK handled this really well (#DOSconference – sorry, most of the tweets have gone now). Think about what you’re tweeting and the frequency at which you tweet. Remember: you’re not necessarily tweeting to people that are hanging on your every tweet. Like I said, this isn’t a war zone and don’t act like it is.
Bearing that in mind, think about the fact that your PLN might just want to respond to your tweets. Imagine spewing out a barrage of tweets and not replying to any of the responses. How would you feel? Make sure that this remains a two-way process. If you feel like you can’t handle this in the heat of the moment, slow down and take your time.
Now, if you want your PLN to contribute, what do you want from them? You could try asking, they might just give you an answer. If you don’t you’re going to sound like someone who thinks they’re better than you because they got to attend the conference and you didn’t. Actively think about involving you followers in this process.
Why are you bothering?
Why are you tweeting? You’re at a conference, for God’s sake, shouldn’t you be concentrating on what the speakers are saying? If that sounds fuddy-duddyish, then at least consider this: for whose benefit are you tweeting, exactly? Please try to make this a mutually beneficial experience. If you’re going to the trouble of telling your PLN about your experiences, you might think about how this is going to benefit them. What are they going to get out of your stream of tweets?
Because you think that your comments are worthy enough to be tweeted in the first place, you need to engage the non-attendees as well. OK, first of all, what exactly are you hoping to learn from the presentation. What questions might this raise? Do any of your followers want to learn about anything specifically discussed? Do they have any questions they’d like you to raise on their behalf? Get creative and make this a worthwhile experience for all these poor people!
Also, try to imagine how boring it might get if you merely end up repeating what you’re hearing. Trust me, it won’t make for great reading and it won’t be as clear for others as it is for you sitting there in the room typing away. If you’re going to attempt a stream of consciousness approach, think about giving an opinion on what you’ve just witnessed. Your PLN might share your ideas or violently disagree. You might be able to discuss this later with the presenter. The possibilities are endless.
Live tweeting has exploded on us so quickly and with such force that many of us still haven’t encountered the phenomenon head on. In fact, this wasn’t even an issue in the last presentation I gave, which was only last June. Nevertheless, it’s well and truly with us now and it’s important that it gets used for the benefit of the profession rather than becoming an annoying distraction.
So now over to you. What do you think about live tweeting in a conference setting? We would really value your suggestions, comments, experiences, and ideas on this issue. PLEASE POST YOUR THOUGHTS BELOW