Last semester I received an email from my advisor. When your in college it seems like your advisor is the stereotypical spam mailer. True to the analogy, the majority of what they send you is just that, spam. But when I heard Bill Handy was teaching a class on social media, I jumped to it, and I’m glad I did.
Its like that scene from The Dead Poets Society where the kids all excitedly band together to learn poetry from Robin Williams. Sure, the kids all know what poetry is, but they have no idea how much further their understanding is about to go. There is an iconic scene, where they’re all chanting the title of the Walt Whitman poem “O Captain My Captain”. Well, I know as much about social media as those kids knew about poetry, and Handy is opening the flood gates.
This week we covered the microblogging site Twitter. I don’t consider myself anymore savvy in this area than any other college student, (in fact, before this class Twitter was just a buzz word to me) but I realize now there is an entire world interacting, 140 characters at a time on Twitter.
The first thing I noticed about Twitter is how poorly its described by people and the online community as a whole. “Let your friends know what you’re doing throughout the day.” (I thought to myself, “Doesn’t Facebook already have this base covered?”)
That is definitely the lay person’s understanding of Twitter. But Twitter is so much more than that. When people use it correctly, its like a humanized aggregator that compiles what your community is paying attention to. Did a friend of mine stumble upon some interesting tidbit of information, or a site I should visit? Twitter lets me know. And I can choose to follow anyone, regardless of my personal involvement with that person. If I value what interests that person, I can experience those things as well.
Like with so many things, the technology isn’t special, but the way you use that technology is. On paper, Twitter sounds down right useless, but in reality, its brilliance lies a just little under the surface.