Explaining Twitter to the non Twitter is somewhat of a challenge. The concept is different than other tools, and the language associated with Twitter is also very unique, not to mention all of the associated short forms etc.
As an educator and Twitter enthusiast, I am always thinking about good analogies and strategies to explain Twitter and its benefits. A demo is good too. A typical discussion or demo includes: get your free account, public/private, friends/followers, checking profiles of other Twitter users, posting tweets (messages), replying, retweeting etc..
Further into the process there is discussion about how to use Twitter effectively which leads to searches, hash tags and the PLN aspect of Twitter. Then you can step it up a notch and manage Twitter feeds through a 3rd party application such as HootSuite or Seesmic Desktop. (see my earlier post PLN:Harnessing the power of Twitter). Oh yes, and be sure to include information about using Twitter with your mobile device.
The power of Twitter is often demonstrated by posting a Tweet and showing people how quickly you will get responses from your followers which works really effectively if you have a large number of followers – all good. I have been thinking about how to best illustrate the global aspect of Twitter. I have finally landed on two ideas for this.
You could show the Twitter public timeline which is the collection of all public tweets.
While this shows a range of Twitter users and posts, it looks very similar to your own Twitter feed so in this regard it is a weak illustration and does not truly capture the global aspect of Twitter.
Another approach is to show TwitSpy, which shows the Twitter public timeline in a way that displays the location and profile picture of the user on a Google map along with the tweet. In my mind, this is a much more powerful demonstration to illustrate the global aspect of the Twitter community.
In these last two examples, you see the languages, profile pictures and global locations – much more effective! It is fascinating to watch the TwitSpy display as the counties pop up on the screen: Canada, India, USA, England, China … – a true global community.
Note: If you are going to do a demonstration of the Twitter public timeline or TwitSpy, remember that the timeline shows all public tweets. You can not control the tweets, users, languages or more importantly, the content – in this area, you take your chances.
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Twitter public timeline
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