Online Journalism: Thursdays 2009

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the class blog for Columbia College Chicago’s Online Journalism class: Thursday edition

Twitter: 21 days

I said it in class, but I’ll say it again: Twitter is hard to explain. It’s kind of like Facebook’s status update. It’s kind of like IM. It’s sort of like texting on your phone. And it’s a little like a teeny, tiny blog. Plus a bunch of other things. There’s one thing that is true though: It’s a new paradigm for communication and community, and it’s reaching critical mass.

Because of that, we’re going to do a deep dive into Twitter. The thing about Twitter is that it takes a little time to “get it” (and, even more importantly, what that “it” is will be different for each person). As a result, we’re going to follow the “21 days” concept: It takes 21 days of doing something regularly for it to become a habit.

So let’s form Twitter habits:

  • Starting by March 1st, you’ll need to sign up for an account on Twitter.
  • Follow me. My Twitter page is here. I will follow you back.
  • Look at my list of followers–you will quickly see your classmates. Use Twitter Search to find other interesting people to follow (type in keywords of things that you find interesting, for example).
  • You need to post to twitter at least 3 times a day. In addition, you need to @ reply to someone at least twice a day. That’s a MINIMUM of five tweets a day.
  • Follow new people very day
  • Every 3 days, in 140 characters, sum up what you’ve learned and include the hashtag #onlinej09 in your tweet. For example: retweeting can really spread a message quickly #onlinej09
  • Follow your classmates’ revelations by doing a twitter search for that hashtag
  • We’ll have a pretty good list of things we’ve learned on Twitter at the end of this experiment. Plus, you’ll have developed a pretty healthy Twitter habit by then.
  • At the end of our 21 days, write a 500 word summary of your time on Twitter, what you think it’s useful for, and how you see Journalism intersecting with it.

Another great thing about Twitter is that there are any number of ways to access it outside of the homepage. There are some great applications for accessing your tweets, like:
Twhirl
Twitteriffic
Tweetdeck

Other applications for discovering people, doing interesting things, and more:
Twitpic
Twitter Grader
TwitterVision
(there are an almost countless list of interesting Twitter apps–feel free to link up ones you find in the comments)

Finally, one thing about having only 140 characters is that it makes it hard to paste in a real link. You’re going to need a URL shortener to do so. Personally, I like bit.ly, but people also use tinyurl and others.

See you on Twitter!

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