Kate Nonesuch, Me and the Zen of Twitter

I follow Kate Nonesuch on Twitter. She follows me. Since we're both math-dabblers with an interest in scaffolding learning, we've something unique to talk about. Since neither of us have actually "tweeted" anything, ever, it's a calm and zen-like conversation.

I've been thinking about Twitter for the last little bit for the very good reason that Tracey from Literacies uses it, and the less good reason that TechCrunch is forever talking about it.

Then, mid-August, Devin Coldewey received 580 comments (and 900+ retweets) when he wrote an op-ed piece on TechCrunch titled Why I Don't Use Twitter.

It was a wonderful piece (though accompanied by hordes of shrill, ranting comments exceptional even for TechCrunch). His dismissal of Twitter was reinforced - for me - when I read Robert Scoble of Scobleizer: bleeding edge technology talk asking "If I deleted my Twitter account would a kitten die?" as well as some other Scoble thoughts.

And then there was hugh macleod's April 10/08 cartoon (shamelessly copied below from yet another TechCrunch twitter post titled The Decline and Fall of Western Civilization Part III - The Twitter Years.)

Add to all this a conversation Tracey had on a listserve thingy recently (that I've now misplaced) about why many literacy and basic adult ed. facilitators aren't using cutting edge online-learning technology, and, well...

There was a whole Twtr / tech-talk conversation rattling around in my head. It rattled for a bit, and then I decided to give Twtr another look.

Actually, I created a Twtr account last year. But I lost my password and username and way, and mostly forgot about it. Deciding to be more serious and responsible this time around, I recovered my password, deleted the older account, and set up a new one.

Deleting the old account seemed easy enough: how little I knew.

Then, on August 22, 2009, at 9:12:13 PM, Twitter sent me an odd email saying, "Hi there, [my old username]! Glad to see you decided to restore your Twitter account. Please open this link in your browser..." A link followed, and then, "This will confirm that you'd like to restore your account. If you want to stay deleted, just don't open the link."

Well, I wanted to stay deleted, so I left the link alone.

Then, Twtr sent me the same email on August 25, 2009 at 3:38:39 PM.

Six one-hundredths of a second later (3:38:45 PM) they sent me another.

Today, they sent another (timestamped August 26, 2009 12:25:08 AM).

Hmmm... says I. Somebody doesn't like being ignored.

A Google search turned up "Ed" who's having the same problem. He wrote, "I canceled my Twitter account two months ago, yet since that time I've received two messages from twitter." He posted this about it a month ago on a site called Get Satisfaction. Sadly, he ain't got no satisfaction yet. (I was going to commiserate with him, but they wanted my email which would have meant more spam....) Says Ed, "I suspect twitter shenanigans, trying to trick me into restoring an account." Me, too, Ed. Me, too.

I also suspect inflated user numbers (see Twitter... Above the 50 Million Uniques...).

Another dissatisfied customer with handle TwilightFreak actually reactivated their account and put up a "go away" notice just so the emails would stop. How's that for unique?

So, lets sum up. I've now written... what? Maybe 1000 words? ... about a service I don't use, sparked by spam the site's been emailing me.


That brings me back to Devin. Here's part of his post, abridged:

[Twitter is] the social equivalent of an all points bulletin, or… a quasar or something. What did you do before when you needed to send something of little consequence or urgency to a bunch of people who may or may not want to see it? The only thing that comes to mind is skywriting.

Besides, (and I hate to trot out this old argument, but I think it’s applicable here) weren’t we saturated with information before Twitter came on the scene? Do we really need a constant hail of tweets in addition to the emails, IMs, messages, posts, votes, invitations, events, feeds....

[People] should be saying fewer, more meaningful things, directed at people to whom they are relevant — as opposed to the equivalent of sending up a signal flare and screaming that you super hate mondays....

I can almost hear Boris Karloff' reading "For, tomorrow, he knew all the Who girls and boys would

Wake up bright and early. They'd rush for their toys!
And then! Oh, the noise! Oh, the noise! Noise! Noise! Noise!
That's one thing he hated! The NOISE! NOISE! NOISE! NOISE!

Why would anyone bother with Twtr?

But must Twtr be about the noise? Of course not.

Just look at Kate and me. Follow us. Check in while you're doing your sums.

You'll see it's all very untroubled.


KarenB said...

I was contemplating setting up a Twitter account this morning before I read your post. Now you've made me pause to re-consider. If I do go ahead with it, I'll be sure to follow your silent tweets!

Wendell said...

Hey, KarenB. Go for it! What could go wrong? LOL

Actually, I think Twtr makes more sense for the Blackberry / mobile device crowd - especially those whose jobs relate to the constant, quick flow of information briefly stated or updated - reporters, politicos, organizers, p.r. people.

"Tech news" (a.k.a., "tech hype") often gets driven by people constantly online (and often on mobile devices) with generally up-to-date hardware and resources. There are enough of them (Scoble estimates 2000) to generate conversation and agreement about the merits of this internet service or that bit of software. But they're uncertain guides to what the rest of us may find useful or worthwhile.

That said, I'm determined to figure out some use for Twtr, if only to push my own learning. (Hard to scaffold computer literacy without venturing into the unknown - spam and all.)


michael chalk said...

Hi Wendell, thanks for your thoughtful comments on this.

i like your use of that cartoon.. it's so true that many edubloggers focus mainly on the tool rather than the classroom experience. What i've enjoyed about your writing is the way you focus on the relationships between, and experiences of teachers and learners.

i've had a couple of "aha" moments with the Twit crowd.. but again it comes down to building relationships doesn't it.

thanks and kind regards, michael

Wendell said...

You're right, Michael. it is always about relationship.


P.s. For those who don't know, Michael Chalk is an Adult Community Educator who also does tech support for the PRACE community in Australia. (PRACE being the source of those wonderful low-level adult short stories.)