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Tag: twitter (Page 2 of 6)

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?

Guidelines for How You Must Use Social Media

As with educational institutions at all levels, our overly-large school district is trying to figure out how to handle the use of social media channels, by staff members as well as students.

So, as often happens in a large bureaucracy like this one, our administration is writing some regulations and guidelines that will cover all the bases. Every one of them!

In looking through a first draft of a set of guidelines for employees, now being passed around for comment by our public relations department, I’m not sure the people involved have a clear understanding of what social networking is all about.

It starts in the definition section where they offer examples of “social media applications”: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and… Wikipedia? Never seen that last one linked with the others but it’s in the picture below so…

Then comes an interesting section spelling out some reasons why schools might use social media.

Reinforce messages. Targeted communications. Educate stakeholders. Promote good news.

All one-way, us to them, broadcasting of information, which is pretty much how our system uses it’s Twitter feed and Facebook page, mostly as a link to press releases.

However, that’s just not the way social media works. It’s all about an exchange of ideas, encouraging feedback, and even criticism, from the people in your network.

Elsewhere the document also lays out some “best practices” for the use of social networking, which turns out to be a mixed bag of the good, the bad and the strange.

Like suggesting that negative or controversial comments not be deleted in one place while in another declaring that the school system reserves the right to remove any post for any reason in another.

Of course, that second part will be difficult to accomplish since our district doesn’t host any social media tools for us to use (outside of our closed Blackboard system) and I doubt Facebook or Twitter will pull down a nasty comment about the superintendent upon request.

For an example of the strange, the same section recommends a convention for schools to use in naming their social networking accounts: ASPS, Happy Valley ES, Mrs. Smith’s Class.*

That’s pretty clunky! And my first thought was a Twitter name like that would really discourage retweeting or @ references. The name alone would eat up a big chunk of your 140 characters.

Anyway, there’s more and much of it also needs work. It will certainly be interesting to see how this document evolves, especially to see if it really becomes a set of “guidelines” or turns into a regulation.

Stay tuned. After all, they did ask for comment.

* ASPS = AssortedStuff Public Schools :-)

Image: Social Media Landscape by Fred Cavazza, from Flickr and used under a Creative Commons License

The Mythbusters’ Kindergarten

I love the way Twitter can trigger some interesting connections.

Case in point, this rant started with a tweet from this afternoon.


Clarence makes a great point since the process used by the Mythbusters is very much rooted in solid science while being very hands on. Not to mention a lot of fun.

But my warped little mind also saw a link to the work of Mitch Resnick, director of The Life Long Kindergarten Group of the MIT Media Lab.


Resnick and his team work from the premise that the “kindergarten approach to learning — characterized by a spiraling cycle of Imagine, Create, Play, Share, Reflect, and back to Imagine — is ideally suited to the needs of the 21st century”.

So, what’s that got to do with a Mythbusters?

Look closer. That cycle is exactly how they work on the program.

Imagine some unusual situation or strange claim. Then create something to test the hypothesis, play with it, share and reflect on the results (usually why things went wrong), and then start the cycle again.

Sharing also comes from extensive and intelligent feedback from their audience, some of which is incorporated into the shows.

And one more connection to kindergarten, just look at the smiles on the faces of the participants as they discover something new. It’s not just the visceral fun that comes from blowing up stuff. :-)

Yes, we should be using Mythbusters as a blueprint for teaching science – in high school as well as elementary. But also math, social studies, art, and so much more.

The Power of the Network

One day last week during the NECC conference, I was standing at the Ask Me table near the Bloggers’ Cafe, talking with a couple of colleagues from our overly-large school district.


Among other things, I was trying to explain Twitter to them (something I seem to be doing more and more of lately).

At one point a woman brought over a cellular wireless card that someone had left on one of the couches in the Cafe.

And under normal circumstances it would have gone to the conference lost and found, to sit in a box waiting for someone to figure out exactly where that office was in the huge convention center.

But… expensive wireless service, lounge area dedicated to bloggers… I figured the owner must be a Twitterer. So, I tossed a 140 character notice into the mix.

They may not follow me but, considering the people who hang out in that area of the hall, the number of degrees of separation between me and them was probably far less than six.

Anyway, it only took a few hours to get the card back to it’s owner.

Ok, I admit, as an example of the power of Twitter, that story doesn’t rise even close to the same level as the way the system is being used by the election protesters in Iran.

But it’s a nice little illustration of how this particular tool helps connect the members of one particular network in ways that were impossible even a few years ago.

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