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Micro-Blogging, Futurism, and the Agora


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Lecture Notes for Participation Literacy

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Micro-Blogging, Futurism, and the Agora

  1. 1. R. Trebor Scholz | @trebors What the hell does micro-blogging have to do with the agora or futurism?
  2. 2. The agora (Greek: Ἀγορά, Agorá) was a central spot in ancient Greek city-states. The literal meaning of the word is "gathering place" or "assembly". The agora was the center of athletic, artistic, spiritual and political life of the city.[1] The Ancient Agora of Athens was the best-known example, birthplace of democracy.
  3. 3. Is writing status updates a waste of time? What are the disadvantages and opportunities of engaging in online conversations and sharing practices? What are some reasons for the popularity of Twitter? Are novels passé? Do even email, videos on Vimeo, and IM take up too much time now? Which way of using Twitter worked best for you? How can micro-blogging help you to distribute your ideas? How does the way we relate to others differ on Twitter and Facebook? Questions
  4. 4. Overview Twitter and the Futurist Manifesto Why Does Micro-Blogging Matter? How Twitter Came To Be Twitter Anatomy Twitter Desktop Clients How Do People Use Twitter? Twitter in the Organization/in Education Twitter as a Citizen News-Wire? Twitter, War, Catastrophe Search Twitter Assignment
  5. 5. Micro-Blogging and the Futurist Manifesto
  6. 6. The Manifesto of Futurism Filippo Tommaso Marinetti (1909) youth, technology, speed “Look at us! We are not out of breath, our hearts are not in the least tired. For they are nourished by fire, hatred and speed! Does this surprise you? it is because you do not even remember being alive! Standing on the world's summit, we launch once more our challenge to the stars!” The Futurist Manifesto
  7. 7. Why Does Micro-Blogging Matter?
  8. 8. selected from: howardowens: "Twitter is a salon in 140 characters." uchicagolaw: Twitter allows us to give prospective students a bite-sized glimpse into what life here is like. memoirgirl: "Now I'm not just funny to myself." calixte: "I use my Cognitive Surplus to do some Mindcasting, using the ultimate Blip Machine: Twitter." dangillmor: "Twitter is a current (and sometimes early) warning and gossip system, with occasional insight and frequent amusement." tiffanyvonemmel: "Twitter is how I meet with busy people. It replaces email. At academic conferences, I use Twitter to demonstrate the performative turn of knowledge." DW: "Twitter is my shared notepad. If I want to remember something and I don't mind if everyone else knows it, I just post it here." HarryWaisbren: "I find twitter useful to engage journalists, bloggers, and academics casually whereas within other mediums they would resist." ryansholin: "Twitter is a connection engine that costs nothing. No bar tab, no conference registration, no commitment. Just 140 characters." What they say about Twitter
  9. 9. Why Does Micro-Blogging Matter? (A Preliminary List) • Inconspicuous way of staying in touch with the passions and obsessions of your friends, colleagues, and experts. What are they paying attention to right now (short messages and also photos)? • Update people on what you are writing on your blog • Social capital, “The Strength of Weak Ties” (Granovetter, 1973) • Live search: abbreviated live-blogging of a group. Twitter as live-version of social bookmarking services like Delicious-- ask questions •Art (i.e, Jenny Holzer, Joseph Kosuth) •Twitter as news-wire and citizen journalism. • Citizen volunteerism and fundraising: (i.e.,Twestival)
  10. 10. Why Does Micro-Blogging Matter? (A Preliminary List) • File sharing (with the help of services like you can share files up to 15 MB) • Event live micro-blogging, 140 characters at a time (i.e., group of people covering simultaneous sessions at a conference) • Informal social learning (acculturating into communities of practice, evidence of learning process, shareable teaching, reach beyond classroom, access to information becomes access to people who know, self-organized communities). Examples: surgery • Post-disaster relief (i.e, Mumbai bombings, Gustav) • Increase intra-organizational linkages, connection to larger community and transparency (i.e., universities, U.S. State Department)
  11. 11. How Twitter Came To Be
  12. 12. Attention and Media
  13. 13. Making a More “Live” LiveJournal jack dorsey May 31st, 2000 “One night in July of that year I had an idea to make a more "live" LiveJournal. Real-time, up-to-date, from the road. Akin to updating your AIM status from wherever you are, and sharing it. For the next 5 years, I thought about this concept and tried to silently introduce it into my various projects. The 6th year; the idea has finally solidified .... and taken a novel form.We're calling it twttr (though this original rendering calls it; I love the word.ed domains, e.g.“
  14. 14. First Tweet
  15. 15. For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn. -Ernest Hemingway
  16. 16. Words, Words, Words twitterific dweet (tweet sent while drunk) twead (reading a twitter post) tweeple tweeps (peeps on Twitter) tweetaholism tweetheart not to be mistaken with tweetard tweetUp (Twitter users meet in person) twibute (to pay tribute to someone) twirting (flirting on Twitter) twitch (when you twitter a typo) “How to win friends and twinfluence people?”
  17. 17. Twitter Anatomy
  18. 18. Twitter in Plain English
  19. 19. The Anatomy of Twitter Replies (public) URL shortening (for link sharing) Retweet (Your clever words passed on by dozens of people) Direct Messages (not public, used by 25% of users) “Tweets” (can’t edit, 140 characters) RT D @ Trends “followers” “following” (start with 15-20) # TwitPic
  20. 20. Read your feeds on
  21. 21. Twitter Desktop Clients
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  23. 23. For useful responses to frequently asked questions about Tweetdeck also see:
  24. 24.
  25. 25. -Buzz Group Break- What question would you most like to have answered regarding the topic of the lecture today? Of all ideas and points you have heard so far today, which is the most obscure or ambiguous to you? What is the most contentious statement you heard in the lecture so far?
  26. 26. How Do People Use Twitter?
  27. 27. “For security reasons, the congressional delegation led by House Minority Leader John Boehner to Iraq today was supposed to be secret. Everything had been going fine in that regard. Even media outlets that knew of the trip, like the Congressional Quarterly, kept a lid on the news. That was, until Rep. Peter Hoekstra twittered his arrival into Baghdad. "Just landed in Baghdad. I believe it may be first time I've had bb service in Iraq. 11th trip here," he sent from his BlackBerry. “ US Diplomats Start Twittering, ...
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  30. 30. Erykah Badu twitters her child birth "This f*cking hurts like hell!" "I'm gonna kill this doctor if he does't get this thing out of me." "Why isn't Andre 3000 here yet?"
  31. 31. “Do this TODAY: 1. Read 5 Ways to Help Twestival Raise $1 Million, then go to and give what you can 2.Attend your local Twestival event. (check Have fun and donate again 3.Tweet to let your followers know it’s Twestival day 4. Post a blog, Facebook Note, MySpace Bulletin or whatever you can 5. Mail to your mailing list.. tell them all how important Twesitval is to the world 6. Leave a comment here so we can share your blog post with others”
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  33. 33. Twittering Surgery
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  35. 35. Daniel Schorr (91) starts to twitter. Twitter reminds him of the Agora, which was an open "place of assembly," a market place in ancient Greece (900s–700s BCE).
  36. 36. Twitter in the Organization Engage or Die!
  37. 37. •Learn what people say about you and join that conversation •Find experts in your field on or Twitter Search •What do they think about your organization? •Twitter as possibility for creating intellectual community. •Organizational: quick way to point to problems. •Of course, it only works if people make an effort to use it. Twitter in the Organization
  38. 38. Twuffer allows the Twitter user to compose a list of future tweets, and schedule their release. You can tweet hourly/daily/monthly announcements.
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  40. 40. • Chat with your professor or other students after class • Collaborate on a project. Start a conversation thread. • In-class back channel •Follow the tweets of professionals • Share your teaching resources beyond the class room Twitter in Education
  41. 41. Twitter as Citizen News-Wire?
  42. 42. A Few Places to Start Nicholas Kristof (NYT) @nytimeskristof Associated Press @associatedpress Breaking News Alerts @BreakingNewsOn NewYork Times @nytimes Brian Lehrer WNYC @BrianLehrer Wired @wired Washington Post @washingtonpost A Few People Howard Rheingold @hrheingold
  43. 43. “There's a plane in the Hudson. I'm on the ferry going to pick up the people. Crazy,” J Krums in a 3:50 p.m. Faster than Associate Press (AP) (i.e., BBC follows Twitter to stay on top of events) - PRO: In several instances Twitter received updates faster than TV or news websites: new outlet for citizen journalism - CON: Unreliable sources US Airways Flight 1549, January 15 2009 The event was also caught on video; the footage was uploaded toYoutube. In addition, hundreds of photos were added to Flickr.
  44. 44. David Weinberger twitters the Superbowl (@dweinberger) also search for #TwitterBowl Sports Reporting
  45. 45. Twitter,War, and Catastrophe
  46. 46. Twitter as tool for war reporting
  47. 47. “‘Grenade attack in Colaba market,’ read a Twitter message from a user named Abhishek Baxi last Wednesday. Then a few minutes later.‘Blast outside Oberoi Hotel in South Mumbai.’ A few years ago, sane people would have still argued that the whole point of taking your time with reporting a story is so that you have a chance to synthesize facts, evaluate your sources, double-check and get your story straight.” - David Sarno Insta-Reporting the Mumbai Bombings December 2, 2008
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  49. 49. Search From access to information to access to knowledgeable people
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  52. 52. Twitter Assignment
  53. 53. 1) Write a 140 characters explanation of Twitter and post it to Twitter. 2) Write a fictitious (or real) love letter in no more than 140 characters. 3) Write a real (or fictitious) breakup Twitter post. 4) How can Twitter be used in class? Suggest how we could make use of Twitter in class. Post your idea to Twitter. 5) Comment on a current political event, add a link. Twitter Assignment Due date February 26 (before class): - Create a Twitter account. - Twitter at least sporadically until the end of the semester.
  54. 54. Umberto Boccioni, Unique Forms of Continuity in Space (1913)
  55. 55. Thanks Trebor Scholz Twitter: @trebors