Monday, 8 June 2009


Potential benefit within Conductive Education?

The one thing you can say for certain about Twitter is that it makes a terrible first impression.

Too true. True enough certainly to have me read on through Steven Johnson's four-page article in this week's Time magazine, of which the above are the opening words.

Indeed, what I'd heard about Twitter when it first arrived sounded flibbertigibbert to the point of moronity. But things change fast in the world of electronic communication, and those that don't die develop. Twitter's not dieing. Annual visitors rose 1,298% over the two years to April 2009, not because of major changes in Twitter (though from last month it has its own search engine) but because of the uses to which it is being adapted.

Read Steven Johnson's account for yourself (or plenty enough else on the Internet!).

What's Twitter?

An unlikely combination of very short messages (maximum 140 characters), from a computer or mobile phone, openly accessible and free. Er, that's it.

Messages are called 'tweets'. People who follow somebody's tweets are called 'followers'. Not much else to say, really.

No wonder I dismissed it when I first heard about it.

Simple immediate device...

Conductive World's immediate use for Twitter will be clunkingly simple, as a pointing device to notify the world of a newly posted article, a particularly interesting comment or some other feature. What develops from that is up to how, if at all, this is used. That means by you who read Conductive World, or by people who do not but are drawn into 'talking' about relevant matters by what Twitter throws up.

Where might it lead?

Steven Johnson identifies three powerful elements that Twitter brings together:

Put those three elements together — social networks, live searching and link-sharing — and you have a cocktail that poses what may amount to the most interesting alternative to Google's near monopoly in searching. At its heart, Google's system is built around the slow, anonymous accumulation of authority: pages rise to the top of Google's search results according to, in part, how many links point to them, which tends to favor older pages that have had time to build an audience. That's a fantastic solution for finding high-quality needles in the immense, spam-plagued haystack that is the contemporary Web. But it's not a particularly useful solution for finding out what people are saying right now...

Even in its toddlerhood, Twitter is a more efficient supplier of the super-fresh Web than Google.

A most helful discipline

140 characters? Why not? Most people are already used to the 160-character limit of text messages. There's not much difference ( except that on Twitter you cannot over-run).
  • If there is no room to say much then you need not be put off by how much there is to say.
  • You can jot down your immediate thoughts (or your immediate responses to what others have broadcast).
  • You can confirm or deny, ask or reply, and point to further sources of information.
  • You have no need to worry about format or other arcane aspects of blogging.
  • You can be as anonymous as you like.
  • You can do it from your computer or your mobile (cellphone, Handi).
Many who read this may already do it anyway.

140 characters, whatever the original reason for such a figure seems a helpful and potentially productive discipline, like a five-line limerick, a fourteen-line sonnet or a seventeen-syllable hai-ku, all of which produce pleasures and satisfactions way beyond the expectations of their seemingly arbitrary numerical limits of 5, 14 and 17.

Remembering to knock out a quick notification (140 characters or less) of each new entry on Conductive World as it goes on line might attract the attention of other 'end-users' able to elaborate and develop the potential of this this facility for benefit of then world of Conductive Education. Posting this item in a few munites' time will provide the first test of this.

In fact, the very first reaponse arrived in my inbox just as I wrote the end of the last paragraph!

Perhaps it works...



Johnson J. (2009) How Twitter will change the way we live, Time, vol. 17, no 24, pp. 28-33

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