We have a professional development offering this Friday that I’m really looking forward to — our own Social Media Mastermind(tm), Caleb Wilson, will give a presentation about twitter and it’s potential for academic purposes.
Twitter has been around for years, and like a whole lot of people I’ve been a lurker, not always a frequent tweeter, but I’ve seen the way twitter can almost instantly connect people around a trending topic. It’s no accident that we’re seeing more and more use of twitter — it’s a platform with a lot more flexibility and freedom than Facebook, for example, and I say that even considering the 144 character limit.
One of the keys we’ll talk about is the power of the Hash tag — basically any word or maybe a few words mashed together proceeded by a pound sign (or hash sign). So, Wichita State Shocker fans use “#watchus” to share their tweets with each other. But a hashtag doesn’t need to be tied to something popular like a basketball team that has just been ranked 11 in the AP poll this week (Go SHOCKS!). Any interest, topic, or idea can make a good hash tag. So long as it’s an idea that other people are also interested in, and they’re looking for the same tags, you can connect.
For example, I’m a science fiction fan, and I’m reading William Gibson’s new book, The Peripheral. So, on a whim, I can pop open my Twitter client and do a quick search for the Hashtag “#theperipheral” and find a long thread of posts from people who are responding to the book. Once there, in that feed, I might find new interesting people to follow or connect with, or perhaps find some additional hash tag ideas to try as I poke around looking for ideas.
So, that’s the basics — but how might we use that tool for classes? For other academic work? And what about other tools, like Instagram, that plug in to Twitter?
Come check out Caleb’s presentation on Friday, and find out more!
(Hashtag button by Anna Creech on Flickr.)