The Story Behind That Twitteraholic Post

There’s always a story behind what inspires bloggers to write specific posts.

Unfortunately we aren’t always able to include that aspect in our posts 🙁

Maybe it is me?  But often the story behind the post is just as intriguing and fascinating as the post.

So I thought you might be interested in the story behind A Twitteraholic’s Guide to tweets, hashtags, and all things Twitter?

The Inspiration

Being at a large conference like ISTE, where you have over 13,000 people attending,  reminded me of how much my life has changed as a result of using twitter.

Life before Twitter at a conference was like the first day at a new school — really lonely, isolating experience and take days to connect with others.

While life with Twitter at a conference is like walking into a big party where you know everyone and are meeting up with old friends.   And it’s probably even harder to understand for those that don’t use twitter (or only use it a bit) but often we haven’t even connected with each other online before the conference.

But Twitter brings us together — regardless of whether we’ve already built a relationship online.  And the time we spend together face-to-face enhances our online relationships so the next time we meet up its even better!

Connecting with others was as simple as sending tweets like ‘Who wants to go out for dinner #iste10’, ‘Who wants to go out for breakfast — I’m hungry #iste10’, ‘Where is everyone? #iste10’ or monitoring the hashtag #iste10 to find out what was happening.

What other technology really allows you to connect with some many people so quickly?

And That line…

Off course there is often stories behind specific lines within a post.

My two favorite line in A Twitteraholic’s Guide to tweets, hashtags, and all things Twitter? are:

  1. “Twitter is for people with too much time on their hands”
  2. “using it like a big teachers lunch room that’s open 24/7”

The “Twitter is for people with too much time on their hands” has the best story 😎

Here’s how it goes…..

The day I flew out to USA I crashed my car — managing to break the suspension underneath my car and damage my left hand.

Unfortunately due to travel commitments I couldn’t get my hand x-rayed until I returned home 3 1/2 weeks later.  So while it was being x-rayed I tried to explain why there had been a delay in getting it done due to traveling as part of my work.

Explaining what it meant to support a blogging company wasn’t working — so I tried the opposite approach by saying blogging is sort of like Twitter since most people have heard of twitter.

That’s when he replied “Twitter is for people with too much time on their hands” — we’ve all had others say exactly that to us.  For me it was we have to that line in the post because too often that is exactly what people think and say to us!

And since I had managed to break my hand in the car crash I can confirm true crazy Twitteraholics don’t let things like a broken hand get in our way of tweeting or writing blog posts.

Here’s the x-ray and my story remains that the concrete pillar was driving on the wrong side of the road!


And back to “using it like a big teachers lunch room that’s open 24/7” — someone on tweeted that on Twitter during the time I was writing the post.  Thanks whoever tweeted it!

Final Thoughts

Hope my story has added more meaning to my A Twitteraholic’s Guide to tweets, hashtags, and all things Twitter? post and makes it as memorable for you as it was for me — especially considering it was written over at least week and from two countries at opposite sides of the World.

And would love to hear the stories behind what inspired you to write your different posts!

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Twitter (and Humans) Don’t Always Get It Correct!

Credit where credit is due is important.

Yes the “Twitter Handbook for Teachers” is an excellent resource.

While it is lovely for people on twitter to regularly thank me for the resources I create (and to get all the retweets of thanks) — I DID NOT write Twitter Handbook for Teachers.  But I can understand why people think I did.

It was written by Tomaz Lasic (@lasic) who used the quote from my PLN Yourself wiki on the front page of his handbook and then made the very human mistake of not adding his own details as author on the front page.   So now everyone sees my name (and website) and automatically assumes I created it.

But it is also important that I give Alan Levine credit also — as he pointed out in the comments I should have attributed him.  I’ve always felt that the following words were inspired by his audio he provided for a podcast I was asked to proved for the Knowledge Tree (here is the PDF version of the podcast).

“Watching from the outside, Twitter like the the dumbest thing you’ve heard of “Why would anyone want to tell others what they are doing in 140 characters.” And yet to dismiss Twitter is a mistake because it’s an incredibly powerful tool for your personal learning and connecting with others”

However they could have come from his Being There presentation that I attended twice in 2007 and wrote about on my other wiki.

Image of Twitter handbook for teachers

Please thank Tomaz Lasic (@lasic) for his great resource – he deserves full credit for his excellent work.  And Alan Levine (@cogdog) deserves full credit for his work.

And if you want to thank me here are the resources I created on twitter for my PLN Yourself wiki:

  1. Set up your own Twitter Account – helpful information for building your PLN using twitter
  2. Step 2: Set Up Twitter Account – designed as a step by step guide for f2f workshops

PS for those that know me I can’t believe you thought the handbook was my work — not one single step-by-step screenshots that is characteristic of my work!

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What The? Did You Just Tweet?

Even twictionary was unable to translate this tweet according to Penny Coutas!

I’ve tweeted many weird funny insane incredible tweets but this is definitely my most ‘blog worthy’ tweet!  It’s made more funnier by the fact that:

  1. I can’t translate it
  2. I sent it from twizza, a meet up for educators to learn about twitter (looks like I’m the one that needs some lessons!)

Image of Twitter

Bad headache today has impacted slightly 🙁

Please feel free to leave a comment to translate what you think I was saying……and to tell me about your ‘most blog worthy tweet’ (by you or someone else!)

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How Twitter is Being Used By Companies

I’ve been researching how different companies use their twitter accounts to help me make decisions on how to effectively manage Edublogs Twitter account.  Ultimately how a company uses a twitter account is dependent on what they are trying to achieve by using the account.

As an experienced twitter user I’ve never felt comfortable interacting with company twitter accounts.  Probably me but I prefer connecting with individuals.  So I’ve decided to share where I’m at to help others considering using twitter for their organization and to also get feedback.

Examples of how twitter is being used

Delicious takes the approach of only following a few people (follows 3 compared to 919 followers).  Their twitter account profile clearly states the person responsible for the account, highlights they sometimes talks back and provides a link to their support forum. Interestingly enough Britta Gustafson from Delicious actually talks back quite a bit; lots of conversation happening there.

Off track but — it is hard not to feel for Delicious.  Their name makes it extremely hard to monitor tweets about their company (check out this out to see what I mean).

Diigo takes a totally different approach; following 2,000 and being followed by 1,516.  From personal experience I know the diigo twitter account actively seeks twitters who discuss Diigo, follows them and engages in lengthy discussion with users. But tells you nothing about the person behind the company tweeting.  Voicethreads has taken a similar approach with their twitter account as does the Wikispaces twitter account.

While Diigo’s engagement with users is excellent I like how Delicious lets me know whose the person behind the tweets.  However including “sometimes talks back” in their profile wouldn’t make me want to talk or follow them.

To me TechSmith‘s is taking a good approach.  You can clearly see who is providing the tweet updates on TechSmith twitter account and includes links to their personal twitter accounts if you prefer to interact with the individuals.  Betsy Weber from TechSmith is in my Twitter network.  She has considerably more people in her personal twitter network than does the TechSmith twitter account.  Would love to know if that relates to the personal connection component?

Changes To Edublogs Twitter Account

Edublogs profileMy initial plan had been to unfollow people being followed by the Edublogs Twitter account and focus on using the account mainly for annoucements.

After examining the different approaches I decided to take the opposite approach and are now following everyone because:

  1. Not everyone’s going to want to follow my twitter account (apparently I’m a twitterholic); some users will prefer a company account
  2. Engaging in conversations with users who aren’t following your twitter account is probably best using the company twitter account
  3. I’m already dealing with queries and support via @replies and DMs in my personal account; this helps extend this assistance

Also changed the profile information to provide information about the account and so people know who is behind the tweets.  Also added a Twitter balloon to the right hand sidebar of The Edublogger (which is now suffering extreme sidebar clutter 🙁 ).

Probably the biggest downside of a company account is expectation of 24/7 updates; while nice concept but sleep is occassionally necessary.

Managing The Accounts

So here is how I see it.  Twhirl is used for my personal account; that where I’ll see most of the tweets.  Whereas I’m monitor the Edublogs twitter acccount for mostly @replies, DMs and new followers.  Although perhaps this account needs to engage in the great chocolate debate?


Do you interact with many companies on Twitter?  Which ones and why? Or do you prefer interacting with individuals?

What have I missed?  Or should I have considered?

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Insomnia, Twitter and Personal Learning Networks!

Been suffering from insomnia for the past few weeks so imagine my surprise when I started up my computer at 3.00 AM to suddenly see the following tweet on my desktop:

Image of Tweet

mmmm who is Amber and why is she talking about me?

Going back through Rob’s tweets I discover that Amber Macarthur is doing her keynote presentation at #wrcac08. So now I’m definitely pondering what’s happening.

From Google I discovered that #wrcac08 is The Western Regional Computer Advisory Committee Symposium 2008 in Canada and David Warlick was also doing a keynote. After checking the conference program and discovering Amber Macarthur was on the “Dos and Don’ts of Social Media and Using Web 2.0″ I became seriously worried 😯

Lets be honest you truly never know what conversations you’ll see in my twitter account. I’ve had some classic ones such as:

Thankfully Rob De Lorenzo relieved my worry with the following tweet:

Image of Rob\'s second Tweet

All of this is pretty amazing considering I live in Perth, Western Australia and are hearing about this happening on the opposite side of the World.

Best of all Rob and I engaged in conversation in Twitter and later he joined us at Free Online PD where we talked about Communities of Practice and Professional Learning Communities. After seeing how we are using Elluminate to connect with each other he is now trying to set up something similar for educators living in Canada.

Please contact Rob De Lorenzo if you live in Canada and are interested in being involved.


Twitter is an important part of my Personal Learning Network and increases my opportunity to connect with others.

If you aren’t using twitter or are new to twitter I suggest you:

  1. Check out my “Quick Start Guide to New Twitters
  2. Remember to use @replies when talking directly to people . For example if you are asking me a question use @suewaters at the start of your tweet.

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The Love Twitter Meme

Image of Twitter heartTwitter users fall into 3 distinct categories:

  1. Rarely use because it doesn’t suite their style;
  2. Like using it but in moderation;
  3. Really love using it and will twitter almost anything.

Those who follow me on twitter know I fall into third category and frequently share the funny aspects of my life. Probably the only person who has tweeted (with photos), for a week, about living with a household of blocked toilets and plumbing nightmares.

As twitmunky tweeted that truly deserves a meme and since it shows how much I love twitter I’ve decided to call it “The Love Twitter Meme”.

The Love Twitter Meme rules are:

  1. What is the most amazing/usual tweets you have shared on twitter? And why? How did your followers respond?
  2. What is the most amazing/usual tweets you’ve read? Why? And who by?
  3. Title your blog post “The Love Twitter Meme” and link back to this blog entry.
  4. At the end of your post, choose (tag) 5 people and list their names, linking to them
  5. Send them a tweet or leave a comment on their blog, letting them know they’ve been tagged

So to get it started I tag:

My selection is sheerly based on tagging people from a range of locations throughout the World. Consider yourself tagged if you like the idea and want to share stories of your twitter love.


While you are in the mood for twitter love make sure you check out Martin Weller’s A Twitter Love Song. If you haven’t used twitter or new to using it — My Quick Start Tips For New Twitter Users may help!

Would also love to know:

  1. Which twitter category do you fit into?
  2. How much information do you share on twitter? And why?

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Twitter and Building Your Personal Learning Network

Image of twitterIt’s well known that I’m a self confessed Twitteraholic and twitter is an important part of my personal learning network. I’ve even written a Quick Start Tips for New Twitters.

Yet I’ve never been comfortable with recommending twitter as a starting point to build a personal learning network.

Maybe I’m too conservative?

Twitter is currently ranking the highest from 128 response in my Personal Learning Networks survey question “Which five (5) tools would you recommend as a starting point to build a personal learning network?”

My thoughts are twitter must be freaky and intimidating to people new to using Web 2.0 — especially given the etiquette involved in using twitter. Let’s not forget there are numerous very experienced elearning professional who aren’t comfortable using it.

So I’m interested to know:

  1. I started as a podcaster — where did you start?
  2. What was the first tool you used to build your personal learning network?
  3. Is twitter a good starting point to build a personal learning network?

Also there’s still time to add your responses to my Personal Learning Network survey!

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My Quick Start Tips for New Twitters

It’s easy to forget how intimidating Twitter can be to new users once you’ve used it for awhile. So here are some of my quick tips to getting started using twitter.

Setting Up Your Twitter Account

If you’re not currently using Twitter reconsider! Twitter is an incredibly powerful tool for your personal learning, connecting with others and complements your blogging.

Here are two of my posts that will help you understand why you should use twitter and how to set up your account:

  1. Are You Twittering? Here’s How I Use Twitter explains how to set up twitter
  2. Using Your Twitter Network For Help & Providing Their Recommendations

Most important aspects of setting up your account are:Image of Twitter Bio

  1. Use a twitter username that makes it easier for others to relate to you as a real person.  e.g. Compare spwat3 with suewaters — which is easier?
  2. Your username can be changed anytime without affecting your twitter account by changing your name in the username field in your account settings.
  3. Make sure you complete your one line bio and add your blog URL (if applicable) in account settings because people use this information to decide whether they will add you to their account.
  4. Image of twitter avatarMake sure you upload your twitter avatar asap — important to fit in and not look like a new user. Upload it by clicking on picture tab in account settings.
  5. Don’t ask start inviting people to follow you on twitter until you’ve updated i.e. start writing some tweets first!!!  Why would anyone follow you if you haven’t even bothered to update?Image of not updated
  6. Easiest way to find and add people to your twitter account is to ask an experienced twitter user to ask their twitter network to add you (you can always ask me here for help).  Make sure when they do start adding them you add them back plus thank them for adding you to their account!!!
  7. If you follow me, and only follow a few people, don’t have your twitter account set on all @ replies!!! You’ll get every tweet I send and then blame me for excessive tweeting :).

Image of reply options

A bit About Using Twitter

While twitter is fun and great for conversations — keep in mind:

  1. Online is forever.  If you didn’t want it online don’t say it in the first place.
  2. It’s extremely easy for others to misinterpret your written text.  Remember this!
  3. Think about how what you say reflects on how people visualise you.
  4. @ replies go to the person you are tweeting to and anyone that is following both you and the person you are doing the @ reply.  Except if your followers have their account set to all @ replies (which means they receive all your tweets).

Remember to:

  1. Use @ replies when you are tweeting to a specific person — e.g if you were asking me a question you would start your tweet with @suewaters.
  2. Limit your use of DM (Direct Messages) to really important private messages.  These messages often take longer to access depending on what twitter client people are using and take more time to respond to.

Using A Twitter Client

The power of twitter is in the instant notification/response to tweets of people you follow.  A twitter client is a MUST; using the web interface isn’t the way to go. They provide instant notification of the latest updates and easy response to the tweets.

Which Twitter client you use is personal — experienced twitter users are known to fight in support of theirs.  Popular ones include:

  1. Twhirl
  2. Twitterfic – popular with Mac and iPhone users
  3. Snitter
  4. Twinkle – popular with iphone users which you download through your Apps Store

Twitter Tools

There is an abundance of twitter tools that you can spend hours checking out.  Here are just some that I’ve enjoyed using:

  1. Twitter Karma – an easy way of checking who is following you and who you follow
  2. Twittervision – displays tweets from twitter’s public timeline on the World map in real time
  3. TweetStats – use this to analyse the statistics on a twitter user
  4. Twitscoop – works similar to Google Trends but analyses the words used in the twitter public timeline to identify the hot topics on twitter right now
  5. My Tweet Map – displays the location of your follower’s tweets on a World map — interesting for seeing where they are based.


Twitter has so many layers.

If you are a new twitter user:

  1. Is there an aspect of twitter I haven’t covered and you would like to know about?
  2. Is there anything you would like me to explain in more detail?

If you’re an experienced twitter user:

  1. What advice would you give to people getting started using twitter?
  2. Did I miss any important points?
  3. Was there a twitter client or tool that you think I should have included?  Any why?
  4. What are your tips for getting the most out of using twitter?

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Would You Use Twitter With Your Students?

Twitter or not?Do you use twitter with your students? Or perhaps the question is WOULD YOU?

Ever since Matt asked us to share our thoughts using twitter with students I’ve been analyzing why my instinctive response is DON’T use twitter with school students. But is my response emotional or logical?

While Tom Barrett provides an excellent example of how educators could use their Twitter to collect data for students to analyze it’s use by students in classrooms has been limited. Even Edmodo, a microblogging tool designed for the teacher/student environment, isn’t necessarily convincing me.

I think, like Clarence Fisher, I feel microblogging won’t necessarily provide sufficient benefits within the classroom and outside school many students already use tools like MSN, Facebook and online games to connect with their networks.

For me the true strength of twitter is for educators to use it for their personal learning to connect with other educators to innovate, share, collaborate and network with each other. Here are some of my post on twitter to get you started:

  1. Are You Twittering? Here’s How I Use Twitter
  2. Using Your Twitter Network For Help & Providing Their Recommendations


Please share your thoughts to help Matt with his presentation this week:

  1. Do you use twitter with your students? If so how?
  2. If you are uncomfortable with the idea of using twitter with your students — Can you please explain why?
  3. What are your thoughts on the Good, Bad and Ugly aspects of using Twitter with students?

Please feel free to leave your comments here or on Matt’s post.

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Twitter as RSS Reader and Snagging URLs from Twitter

Tonight’s insanity was motivated by Jeff Utecht’s post on Twitter as My RSS Reader especially when he says:

Lately I’ve been thinking about Twitter as an RSS reader. My Netvibes page has about 30 RSS feeds in it, but my Twitter account has over 700 people or feeds that I can learn from. What I have found recently is that I’m reading and following more links from Twitter than I am from my RSS reader.

Yes, I love Twitter (it’s well known) but I’ve been getting a touch frustrated by the number of Twitter friends that are doing exactly what Jeff highlights here. In many cases their RSS feeds aren’t being read; they’re totally relying on people to post the links in Twitter which if they’re not careful could ultimately limit their learning by getting sucked into group thinking.

Snagging URLs from Twitter

However I decided to keep an open mind and inspired by Jeff’s post work out how to effectively collect the links posted in Twitter. Off course I’d just read a post recently, in my Google Reader, which talked how snag the URLs in TwitterFrank suggested TwitBox. And if I was going to road test a twitter application – I might as well also compare my Snitter with Twhirl that Jeff likes to use (for those new to Twitter these applications make it easier to use twitter than using Twitter’s web interface).

The insanity part — it wasn’t probably the best idea to run all three twitter applications at the same time.  Unfortunately whilst I could cope with running the three applications — it appears they couldn’t (think it was an issue with TwitBin and the other two).


Have to admit – Twhirl is really, really pretty and the colours are a nice change from Snitter (this is important to some of us) — and more importantly can be used for connecting multiple user accounts.

Twitbin definitely snags the URLs from your twitter followers; but to capture them all you would need to keep it running all the time (and Frank’s right– it’s ugly looking) plus it only snags the URLs, not the entire twit which provide you with the reason to want to check a link.

Tracking URLs Posted by Your Followers

I think there is merit in grabbing links from Twitter but we need an application that makes it time effective — like a TweetScan or Terraminds application that searches for URLs within your followers and delivers the entire twits.

Meanwhile I’ve been grabbing some excellent posts to read by tracking terms using both TweetScan & Terraminds and subscribing to the RSS feeds using Google Reader.

Personally I believe I take the whole 10 signs of Twitter Addiction to an entirely different level.  Perhaps the Twitter Addiction signs should also include:

  • You’ve got more than one twitter account, doesn’t everyone?
  • You run more than one desktop twitter application
  • You track multiple terms in twitter using TweetScan and Terraminds

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