Twitter is About Today

A writer on Medium explains Why I love Twitter and barely tolerate Facebook, starting with “Twitter put simply is fun, fantastic, and all about the here and now.” while “Facebook is mired in the past.”.

There’s no memory at Twitter: everything is fleeting. Though that concept may seem daunting to some (archivists, I feel your pain), it also means the content in my feed is an endless stream of new information, either comments on what is happening right now or thoughts about the future.

Twitter is a steady stream of mostly joy and makes my life better. Facebook is filled with people I barely know, chain-emails and disaster news about the sky falling that reminds me of my own past as well as my “friends” at every turn. The Internet is here today and all about tomorrow, and I prefer my social media to reflect that, and that’s why I love Twitter.

No matter how you feel about the two services,1 the short piece is worth a read.


  1. I also love Twitter and may have an even lower opinion of Facebook than he does.

Marketing Without Twitter

I’m not a fan of internet censorship filtering in schools (or really anywhere). I know we want to keep kids away from the really bad stuff on the web, so I’ll grant that some electronic measures are necessary.

Still I see far too many teachers relying on the technology instead of learning to manage internet use in their classrooms, and especially as an alternative to helping their students learn to responsibly navigate the web. Maybe because it’s not on the test.

Anyway, when it comes to filtering, I have to admit our overly-large school district does a pretty good job in keeping a very light touch on the process. At the top level we choose to block sites in certain categories, mostly the stuff the state requires. Staff members then have the option to request that specific sites be blocked (or unblocked) at their school, subject to approval of the principal.

Although in the past many schools chose to put resources like Facebook and YouTube on the block, very few, even at the elementary level, do so now. Blocking Pinterest is currently popular but that will probably change over time and a new boogyman will take it’s place.

However, every so often, a blocking request is submitted that I find somewhat puzzling and, in this case, rather amusing.

Last month a teacher in one of our high schools submitted a request (twice) to have Twitter blocked. It seems there had been some bullying incidents using that service and she seemed to believe that getting rid of the website would help solve the problem. It’s not an unusual approach: blame the technology. I’m guessing she didn’t realize students were likely using their phones to access Twitter, bypassing both our network and Twitter’s homepage.

What I found really odd about the request came from what this person teaches: business marketing.

How the hell do you teach about marking products and services in 2013 without addressing the use of Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites? Every company in the US and elsewhere is scrambling to figure out how to make these tools work for them.

Of all the classes in this school, I would expect social media to be a major topic in those dealing with the modern business world.

By the way, the principal denied the request, although I don’t know if any of this was part of his reasoning.

A Few More Characters

Some of the links I tweeted this week that deserve a little more comment.

Both the Mind/Shift blog and The New Yorker took note of different studies both of which suggest that daydreaming is a natural part of being human and necessary to our mental health. Of course, many parts of American culture (school?) equate daydreamers with slackers.

From the Spotlight on Digital Media and Learning blog an explanation of Why Teachers Need Social Media Training, Not Just Rules. The New York City Department of Education recently issued a nine page set of those rules which, if they were smart, would be the starting point for some great discussions (between teachers and students as well), rather than the final word.

From Gary Stager, Throw a Few Million American Teachers on the Barbie in which he notes that American teachers, despite being “insulted, mocked, punished, shamed, blamed and threatened” for the past decade generally refuse to stand up for themselves as a profession. He’s right. Certainly we’ll never see in the US something like what educators in Victoria, Australia recently did when they walked out and shut down 150 schools in that state.

Also from Stager, a long list of things he’s tired of. As with most of what Gary says and writes, I only agree with about half of it. However, to his list I would add that I’m very tired of districts like mine who allocate increasing amounts of time, attention, and technology to the mundane task of testing and test prep rather than using all those resources “to amplify student potential”.

And finally from the Read Write Web blog, a post revealing that millennials are not so tech savvy after all. That’s a lesson many teachers need to learn. Kids certainly know how to use computers for fun and games but they need to learn how technology can be applied to their learning. That’s our job.

A Little More to Add

When it comes to Twitter, I tend to post in bursts as I find stuff worth passing along in my info flow, or when I stumble upon an conversation to which I think I can add something interesting.

Of course, 140 characters doesn’t offer much room for comment after including a title and the shortened link.  So here are some items that made it into my Twitter feed this week that deserve more attention, with a few more characters of additional thoughts.

From Ars Technica, Four signs America’s broadband policy is failing. As with way too many issues in American society, many politicians want to leave this stuff up to the phone and cable companies. And the policy becomes maximum profit for them and minimum service to those of us paying the bills.

Also from Ars Technica, 25 years of HyperCard – the missing link to the Web. I also see a connection to WordPress, which celebrated it’s ninth anniversary this week, in Bill Atkinson’s (HC creator) description of the program “Simply put, HyperCard is a software erector set that lets non-programmers put together interactive information.”. Both amazing, creative tools for their time.

From The Answer Sheet blog, Is teaching a science or an art? Daniel Willingham makes a great case for teaching being similar to architecture. Both have some “must have” conditions but also allow for some “could dos”, offering a great deal of flexibility and creativity. Or at least both should. Watch his whole presentation.

And finally, from Scientific American, NC Considers Making Sea Level Rise Illegal. When it comes to climate change and a host of other systemic problems, an increasing number of our “leaders” subscribe to a 6 year old’s philosophy of problem solving: ignoring them long enough will make them go away.

Testing The Law

The past week or so, I’ve been following an odd legal issue in the UK involving a football star who was caught having an affair with a television personality. But the tabloid details are the least interesting part of this story.

It seems the lawyers for the footballer convinced a magistrate to issue something called a “super-injunction“, a legal order that forbids anyone from publishing anything “confidential or private” about the applicant or the case, and effectively banning “reporting that the injunction itself even exists”.

That worked fine for the traditional news outlets but fell apart when someone posted his identity on Twitter.  Of course, the name was quickly re-tweeted hundreds of times and the British legal system, not to mention their media outlets, was outraged.

Websites such as Twitter have put a huge strain on the ability of the courts to enforce gagging orders and it has been widely assumed there is no legal redress against them.

The Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said this week that digital media had made an ass of the law and it was hard to enforce injunctions against Twitter because it was incorporated in the United States.

Now it seems the law is about to be tested.

So, should the law (British or otherwise) consider Twitter to be a “publisher”, similar to the BBC or the Sun newspaper, and subject to a gag order from a court?

Is Twitter responsible for monitoring – and censoring – legally questionable material posted by it’s users?

This is not the first time that Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites have been the focus of similar privacy controversies (Twitter is also currently involved in a British libel case), and it probably won’t be the last.

However, maybe a better question about government-enforced secrecy efforts would be… In an age of instant, ubiquitous, world-wide social media, is a gag order like this even remotely enforceable?