Created by Ruth Elliott

Welcome! Join me as I reflect on my learning journey with Web 2.0 tools. I'm sure I will find bandwagons to jump on along the way. Let's enjoy the trip.

Friday, August 7, 2009


Mack on StageImage by mastermaq via Flickr

I'm attempting to add new jargon to the language of Twitter. I have many Twitter related ideas floating around in my brain. I'm going to tell you about some of them.

Twitter Trending Topics

Since Mack Male's talk, I have been more aware of the impact of the trending topics. If someone uses specific words spelled in the same way in a tweet, Twitter counts each occurrence of those words. The top ten trending topics are displayed on the side of your Twitter home page. I'm not sure how often the order changes of the top ten. Two days ago, after Paula Abdul announced to the world on Twitter that she was leaving her position as a judge on American Idol, many people tweeted about this news. Naturally, they used Paula Abdul in their tweets so her name became one of the top ten trending topics. (When I was looking at the tweets on this topic, there were 224 tweets in 2 minutes.) This shows one use of trending topics-to reveal breaking news. Mack Male's example of the #yeg becoming one of the trending topics during the Edmonton storm a few weeks ago, also shows the ability to reveal breaking news.

Trending topics can also be gamed by people for noble or ignoble purposes. The same day that Paula Abdul became a trending topic, many fans wanted to save Paula Abdul. They felt that she had not been offered enough money to stay on the show while Ryan Seacrest, the show's host, was receiving a huge amount to stay. So they promoted use of #savepaulaabdul (or something like that). That became another trending topic. I read some of the posts. Many were urging friends to use the same hashtag to put pressure on the powers that be at American Idol to offer Paula more money.

One issue with the trending topic is that many people access their Twitter account at some other location than their computer. The trending topic is not displayed on an i-Phone or even at a Tweetdeck. Some people don't like the room that the trending topics take up on your home page. This may be an old issue and something that the Twitter designers have already resolved. On my home page, the trending topics are quite small. I think that when I check my Twitter home page each day, I will glance at the trending topics to see what's happening in the world.

John Quincy Adams, Sixth President (1825-1829)Image by cliff1066 via Flickr

Historical Tweets

Earlier in the week, I wrote a blog post about John Quincy Adams who was the sixth President of the United States. He started keeping a diary when he was 12 and continued this practice for the rest of his life. The history society displaying his diaries were told that his short form diaries reminded them of Twitter entries. The society decided to begin to post Adams short entries from a trip he took in 1809. His voyage to Russia began on August 5th so his Twitter postings also began on August 5th. I became a follower that day. Today the history society posted these comments in their blog about the reaction to these historic tweets.

"And the followers, oh the followers! The number of people who have taken the time to reach out and follow the Twitter feed has been increasing by leaps and bounds all week, with sometimes hundreds of new folks following in any given hour. On Tuesday afternoon we had just a few hundred (600 around 4 p.m.); on Wednesday morning at 8 a.m. it was 2,682; at 6 a.m. on Thursday it stood at 5,467, and as I write on Friday morning we've just passed 9.000. We intend to follow back all those who followed JQA. At first we simply couldn't keep up, and then Twitter's follow limits stymied us, but we're trying - if you are following JQA and aren't being followed back yet, don't take it personally - we hope to be able to follow you soon!

The reaction on Twitter has been positive and really fun to watch. A sampling: "extremely geeky but a great use of twitter; former prez john quincy adams to begin tweeting his original daily journal entries"; "Following celebrity tweets is soooo 19th Century! John Quincy Adams was tweeting 200 years ago"; "John Quincy Adams may be the best thing to happen to Twitter. This just made my day"; "Excellent idea to get people engaged with history- thank you and great work!"; "Now THIS is interesting, entertaining, informative, and BRILLIANT! way to go MHS!" You can follow the reaction at" (Dibbell, 2009)

This morning after I read the above (which came in a tweet to me), I had an idea. Robert Caswell, the farmer who lived in Saskatoon in an area which later bore his name (Caswell Hill), kept diaries. His grandson has the diaries. His grandson told me that each entry is short and not very interesting. However, wouldn't it be amazing to post those journal entries as tweets online. I am going to look into that. There may be a way, if this historic tweeting becomes a trend, to use hashtags for the dates. A convention would need to be decided upon. If people tweeted many historic journals, then all the journal entries from #05/08/1809 could be read together. This would give a very different view of history--not from newspaper archives but from people's personal writing.

Green people - Not vegetarians or eco-warriors

You may have noticed that some people on Twitter are green. This is to show their support for those fighting for democracy in Iran. My brother-in-law alerted me to the significance of green.

Metaphors for Twitter

Some see Twitter as a giant cocktail party. You are wandering around listening in to conversations. Sometimes you will join in a conversation. You can't hear every conversation so you just pick up on the ones you can.

Others see Twitter as a fast flowing river rather than a lake. The river keeps on flo

Río Peralonso - El Zulia (Norte de Santander),...Image via Wikipedia

wing. You will miss some of the tweets but there will be many more to come. (I can always click on the person I am following to see the tweets I missed from them.)

I see Twitter as a parade. There are different floats passing by. From some floats people throw candy (those links I can follow to get to the good stuff). Others are stately and beautiful as they pass by, not giving too much away but still interesting to view. Some floats are very homemade and organic. Others are obviously created by professionals and every word counts.

Using Twitter for Professional Development

Yesterday I came across information about a conference that took place. It was limited to only a few people. Those who attended the conference kept tweeting about what they were learning. Others who had not been invited, began to add their two-cents worth into the conversation. From this conference, the @hackedu moniker came into being. This is still used by those who want to be part of the discussion about new ways to use technology and new ideas about education.

I click on many of the suggested links within Twitter messages. I actually feel disappointed when someone mentions a resource without giving a link to it. I plan in the future to use the search under topics to find those who are using some of the hashtags which will lead me to new resources.

Rumour that Teens Don't Tweet
This is a graph that shows user growth demographically. It is from the site above which has additional information. Teens are tweeting. In fact, there is are active comment threads taking place in which teens dispute the idea that teens aren't tweeting. Teens love to text message. Tweets are similar to this SMS or short message system so teens may be tweeting more than the commentators expect them to be. As well, Twitter use is counted from their home page on the web. Many people participate in Twitter from a different location, such as a i-Phone or a Tweetdeck application elsewhere.

Twitter and Big Business

Best Buy offers tech help at Twelpforce. Just send questions to @twelpforce and an army of BestBuy employees will answer them.

Twitter and other social networking sites and even blogs are used in advertising for back to school clothing and supplies. Bebe has identified 50 bloggers who are mentioning Bebe and is trying to form unpaid partnerships with those bloggers. Many of these bloggers create micro-blogs on Twitter. Influential mommie bloggers have been recruited to talk about back to school items on Twitter. Crayola is reaching out to moms online. Moms are seen as into their kids' development of creativity. Britney Spears who has over 2 million followers on Twitter, did an ad for Candie's jeans and tweeted throughout the making of the ad. Her latest song plays during the ad.

Five Cool Photo Sharing Alternatives for Twitter other than TwitPic
Information about these is take from






25 Interesting Ways to Use Twitter in the Classroom
Here is a site that provides ways to use Twitter in the classroom:


Dibbell, J. (7 August 2009). John Quincy Adams, Media Darling. In the Beehive. Online at

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  1. Interesting blog. Isn't it interesting how history repeats itself even with journaling and diaries. I heard about that fellow in Saskatchewan - were they not talking about how the histories of the past are fading because there is little documentation of an average farmer?

  2. Ruth, where do you find "trending topic" counts in Twitter? That is a very useful piece of information applicable to my courses. If my students were following me on Twitter, I could easily determine what the key questions following a class might be. That would be a good indicator of problem areas and need for review. Hmmm. Great!

  3. Very interesting applications Ruth.

    The Adams diary is such a crazy, creative link from past to present. But why wouldn't we just want to read it?

  4. Hi Ruth,

    I will be looking into the twitter picture applications in my down time in the fall. I had come across the twitpic app while playing around in twitter and it is fun to play with. I hadn't given it much thought that there would be other applications - love finding ways to express artistic creativity with these tools! Thanks for the list - I'll be back to check it out in the fall!

    ~:) Heather