Tag Archive: twitter


A superhero touched down at the Educause Annual Conference last week in Anaheim.  Experiences were changed, Twitter was twisted, and everyone was asking…

“Who is Educause_Hulk????’

At this year’s Educause Annual Conference, held last week in Anaheim, I got to witness something that, realistically, doesn’t happen all that often anymore.  I got to see an existing social networking tool get twisted and used in a new way.  I got to witness the impact of Twitter, twisted.

It is true that a great many tools – social networking and media ones in particular – are used in new, creative ways every day.  Discovering new ways to use a tool such as Twitter is so common that calling it “reinvention” is almost inappropriate.  It’s almost commonplace.  So this isn’t new in the big sense, but within the particular context of the conference and how Twitter has been used therein, something quite remarkable happened.

Twitter has been used at conferences for quite some time, as both a great way to set up social activities (“hey!  I’m here, who wants to get some food?” or “Let’s have a tweet-up!”) and to share information (“in a great session about topic X where such and such is said”).  Of course, the use of a hash tag is required to organize all of this data, and an easy-to-read interface like that of Tweetdeck makes for a very powerful tool for communication.  If you take a look at the Educause 2010 stream, you see it is littered with all kinds of posts.  I think the first time Twitter was used so heavily at an Educause event was about 3 years ago at ELI, and it has just blossomed (exploded?) since then.

This past conference, however, saw a new twist.  An attendee created an “alter ego” – EDUCAUSE_HULK – and posted on a semi-regular basis as that persona throughout the conference.  This had a huge impact, at least for me, on the overall experience, and it raised a number of questions for the person behind the Hulk, too.


what is a “disruptive technology?”

The other night and throughout Educause, people have been talking about “disruptive technologies.”  Because I’m getting my MBA, I think back to disruptive technologies in terms of products and markets.

For instance, the transistor was a disruptive technology.  However, many manufacturers of radios considered it a process change – they put them in their existing, big radios rather than tubes.  But other manufacturers (Sony, with the Walkman), used it to create a whole new market.  The actual disruptive technology is the transistor, but the innovation was how it was used.

And it is always about how it is used.  How something is put together to create something new.  Google Wave, for instance (yes, I am still trying to get my head around it), combines several items that aren’t really all that disruptive anymore, if you think about it.  Instant-message style communication?  That’s old.  Threaded discussion?  Been there, done that.  Multi-contributors?  Well, a mailing list is a communication “stream” with lots of people contributing, too.

Does combining them all together make it disruptive?  Honestly, in this case, I don’t know.  I don’t see this as creating a new market, for instance, at least in terms of education (I think it does for project management, btw, though it needs to be combined with other tools like document management and calendars, etc (you listening, google?!?!?).

Are there other disruptive technologies out there?  Twitter is massively disruptive (I’d still get in on the VC funding for that (with strong liquidation preferences) if I could).  Wikis are/were, too, but they have not evolved as much as I would have thought.

I have found it useful to take a business approach to a lot of these topics at Educause.  Anyway.

Facebook/Plurk/Twitter/etc updates

So now Plurk has a plug-in that lets you send something to them (to “plurk” I guess) and have it update your FB status.  Twitter has had this for a while.  

I have been torn ever since I started seeing people use Twitter for FB updates, and am now even more so as I try to use plurk effectively.  I don’t have nearly as many people following me or whom I follow in plurk so it’s a bit more manageable right now that my Twitter “existence” and lets me work around in it a bit more.

The first time I used twitter extensively, it was at the ELI Annual conference, so most of the people whom I follow are professional peers.  Not that we don’t exchange random stuff via twitter now and then (Educause ’08 was fun), but for the most part the stuff I put up as my status on FB is not of the same vein as that which goes up on twitter. 

And now plurk can connect to FB, too.  Now, I have been having more fun on plurk because of the smaller number of followers and etc, but that is actually the cause of my dilemma.  I feel that one needs some separation between all these systems.  

I don’t know.  It’s a tough one with which to deal.

Twitter hits its stride (at least for me)

If you haven’t heard of twitter, you should check it out, at least for reference and general knowledge purposes.  But basically, it’s a “micro-blogging” platform where you post 140-character maximum messages about…anything.  Kind of like facebook status updates (and many tie the two together), except that you can “follow” twitter feeds of certain users, much like one subscribes to a blog.

There are some major differences from a blog that violate the “micro-blog” concept, such as the sheer volume of tweets negating the chronological nature of the feed (imaging if you subscribed to a blog and every day there were 100 entries – you’d never keep up).  But the analogy holds up well enough, and the character limit makes people be creative, in my opinion.

When I was at ELI 2008, in January, Twitter was heavily featured.  They even had a screen where a user, named “ELI2008,” followed as many users as possible and there were LCD displays showing the feeds.  This was a laudable effort, but the problem was that a select few people that used Twitter heavily and especially during sessions just overwhelmed anyone else trying to keep track.  A colleague from another school and I challenged each other to actually keep up with and “compete” with such uber-twitterers, but did so at the cost of actually paying attention to the sessions which we were attending, respectively.  So Twitter was a distraction.

However, at this past Educause conference in October, I think Twitter may have hit its stride.  Yes, I follow a relatively small number of people – about 50 (many have 150-200+) so my feed isn’t quite as insane.  And yes, I paid more attention to some tweets than others (yes, individual posts are called “tweets”).  But I really do feel that I was able to be in one session, take notes, throw an important concept in twitter for others to read, and read similarly important concepts from a few others so that I had an idea of what happened in another session.  A few times, I then went and found that person from the other session and got more information on one of their tweets.

I think I may have successfully balanced Twitter such that I gained information from two presentations at once.  Was I multi-tasking?  Absolutely.  Was it continuous partial attention?  I don’t like that term, so no.  Was I switching rapidly from 100% my presentation to 100% Twitter feed?  Yes.  But that attention to the Twitter feed was for a split second (140 characters – you just can’t spend that much time there) so I wasn’t really distracted.

I think I may have found a place for Twitter for me.

Oh, and btw – I have made some really valuable contacts via Twitter.  They might not think much of me (I’m not posting all that exciting of material, really), but I have learned a lot, and follow blogs of other people quite a bit as a result.