Jan 17 2008

Twitter’s Two Networks

Published by under PLN,Twitter

Over the last few months I have been using Twitter as part of my PLN (Professional Learning Network) and explored some of the issues for a classroom teacher on this blog. I consider it to be a fantastic tool in helping teachers connect and my own PLN has impacted on my teaching, planning, subject coordination, professional development and even children’s learning.

In my opinion if you can better understand these tools you will be able to use them much more effectively. It turns out that in fact if you are a Twitter user, you are part of two quite distinct networks. Listening and Talking.

Affectionately known as “lurking” you may follow many people and listen to their updates, their conversations, their thoughts. I have called this the “Listening” network. There is much to offer in this passive part of the Twitter network – follow the people you are interested in and you may pick up on little gems you may be able to use. But it has it’s disadvantages. The “Listening” network is based upon a passive interaction. You as a teacher are tuning in but cannot steer the conversation so long as you remain lurking.

As soon as you engage with someone in this “Listening” network things begin to change and the two network models above begin to merge and blur together.

The active part of your Twitter network is clearly this “Talking” element and, for me anyway, this is where I gain the most professionally. I may stumble upon a conversation thread and follow along, lurk if you will, to the point where I gain something for myself. But my most useful Twitter experiences occur when I actively engage my network either with a request or question.

So get out there and engage your network!

Whether you are a lurker, listener or talker it does not matter, as long as we continue to push these tools to affect change in our own professional sphere.

11 responses so far

11 Responses to “Twitter’s Two Networks”

  1.   Derrall Garrsionon 17 Jan 2008 at 2:08 pm

    Tom, nice summary on communication via “listening” and “talking.” Your graphics really helped also clarify the path that a conversation would take between individuals and groups. I think there are many subtleties to communication using Twitter that I’m still trying to understand. For instance if a person doesn’t have their user settings set to “Always: all @ replies” then they won’t see the responses to a conversation if they don’t follow both people.

  2.   Tim Davieson 17 Jan 2008 at 2:12 pm

    Hey Tom

    This is a great post. Really useful way of explaining the (really rather complex but very interesting and dynamic) way that twitter works…


  3.   CdnMathTeacheron 17 Jan 2008 at 3:09 pm

    This is the push I need to interact more on Twitter. I have been feeling less than profound compared to the people I follow. I hadn’t thought about the learning advantages of steering the conversation. Thank you for illuminating a connection for me!

    Derrall – thanks for the tip!

  4.   mrsolsonon 17 Jan 2008 at 3:34 pm

    Wow, great graphics! That’s an exceptional description of the workings of twitter. Personally, I’m not a big fan of just following people, unless they’re constantly sharing resources. I often find myself @’ing to people who aren’t following me, and they don’t always get these. Whenever a person starts following me (if they’re not scary!), I usually begin following them to see what value they bring to my network. Keeps things interesting! Thanks for the post!

    Kate Olson
    [email protected]

  5.   Bill Gaskinson 17 Jan 2008 at 6:13 pm

    I still learning about twitter. I started watching the conversations, but I am a novice. I am not even sure how to jump into a conversation. Twitter is really new. If you see me in Twitter, I am wcgaskins. I have a lot to learn.

  6.   Bill Gaskinson 17 Jan 2008 at 6:17 pm

    I just read Is there a doctor on board? Twitter as part of your Personal Learning Network….. that is where I am with Twitter….I want to see how other are using it for their PLN…I guess I am going to have to experience it. Any suggestions…

  7.   Britne Rockwellon 17 Jan 2008 at 8:48 pm

    Wonderful summary! I have a post about Twitter in the works for my blog, and you’ve really hit the nail on the head for one of my main points. I’ll be linking to you!

  8.   Susanton 17 Jan 2008 at 9:07 pm

    Tom I enjoyed reading both this summary and the post “Is there a doctor on board?”
    I’d like to add that when used in conjuction with a messenger twitter becomes even more effective – notifications sent and received immediately without having to actually visit the twitter page.

  9.   Anneon 17 Jan 2008 at 9:17 pm

    Very nice summary! Twitter is so hard to explain. Your graphics especially work nicely…


  10.   tbarretton 17 Jan 2008 at 9:19 pm

    @Bill – thanks for the comments, I would suggest you take a look at Chris Betcher’s video on using Twitter for a visual starter http://betch.edublogs.org/tutorials/ – I hope a few people have added you to their Twitter network. I put the word out.

  11.   Paul harringtonon 21 Jan 2008 at 11:37 am

    Tom, a great reflective post on the beast which is Twitter. Personally I would call Twitter my eyes and ears – it lets me know what issues are really causing discussion in my PLN, and also is great for the occasional shout for help.
    I would now be lost without it, and certainly notice when it goes down.