Firstly I would advise not to make judgements before you have fully immersed yourself in the world of Twitter, you won’t see the benefits unless you (a) are following enough interesting people and (b) taking note of ‘interesting’ being the operative word in point a.! In English – no one wants to follow people who only Tweet about what they are having for lunch or what they are watching on TV – the most useful people to follow (in my opinion!) are the ones that provide lots of links and insights into happenings in their given subject area. Over the last two weeks I have really started to see the benefits of using Twitter in a work-related context. The ability to ‘follow’ librarians from all over the globe, picking up snippets from different schemes, initiatives and projects and links to blogs, articles, videos and sites that you wouldn’t necessary be subjected to in your normal day-to-day working environment is a brilliant way to gather information. It allows you to quickly scan, assimilate and either save or forget, utilising Delicious or Bloglines to manage the useful information with minimal effort.
Another useful tool that I have recently been made aware of thanks to Joeyanne Libraryanne is ‘Just Tweet It,’ a directory of Twitterers, organised alphabetically in order of designation (e.g. Architecture, Education, Librarians) enabling you to quickly find people to follow who are interested in the same subject area as yourself. It takes a couple of minutes to register yourself into the correct category and brilliant if you want to share your Tweets and knowledge with other people in the same role as yourself.
Twitter is a brilliant example of communication and collaboration, and provokes interesting discussions about how it can be used in education. I recently had a meeting with the Digital Media Co-ordinator from West Cheshire College, Sean Herbert who told me a brilliant story about a guy named Mike Wesch, a Professor of cultural anthropology from Kansas State University who is studying the impacts of new media. He utilized Twitter in his teaching and learning by asking his students to produce a timeline of the history of the world which was compressed into a five minute video then synchronized with the Twitter stream.