Tag Archives: twitter

Another use of Twitter?

Monica Rankin is a professor at University of  Texas who  incorporated Twitter into  her classes.  With 90 students in her usual class, the discussion usually takes place just amongst a few students. Now, with the use of Twitter, the number of participants has risen to almost half of all students. Some students use Tweetdeck and others post by SMS. Their posts are then projected live in the front of the class for discussion. The posts also serve as material for post-class discussion and revision.

Now, with my undying scepticism for Twitter (apart from its information spread advantages), I just wonder why this is so different to the classes simply having an online dimension to them via discussion forums, email and online studying materials. Is it that so few classes have an online dimension or has Twitter really made a difference through its popularity in the students’ age group? Also, provided their posts are unprotected, will most students not feel a bit intimidated to post things in the public?

The only  other possible criticism might be the fact that tweets are limited to 140 characters, which might make it hard to convey academic thought, but I think the limit actually works to its advantage. Considering the attention span of a regular student who has to listen to a professor, take notes, think and then read projected tweets, it might make perfect sense to make them short and clear. All in all, I’m excited to see new media entering the usually lagging-behind world of academia. To progress with ideas we need to find the right carriers of information and communication and if Twitter makes a positive contribution, then more power to it.

[Via ReadWriteWeb]

The evolution of search

Search has been evolving for a good while, but in the last few months it seems to be moving at an even quicker pace. Things started hyper-budding at Google last year with its November introduction of SearchWiki, an added feature that allows ratings, comments and editing of personal search results. Since then Google has also started getting clever with data: the use of rich snippets allows Google to come up with extra information that falls into a search’s context. Another upcoming Googleism is Google Squared, a feature meant to appear in labs soon. Much like Wolfram Alpha, it’s meant to be a fact- rather than a site-search engine and ‘automatically fetch and organize facts from across the Internet.’ To go even further, Search Options (shown at the beginning of the post) and a new search engine Bing from Microsoft allow to divide search results into several categories ranging from timelines to whether a search item is user-generated or regular media.

Apart from the increasingly semantic features of Google search there are also really interesting social trends emerging through clever-headed digital start-ups. Glue is a semantic browser extension that adds several interesting new features that enable a social dimension to sites such as Amazon or Imdb through using services such as Facebook Connect and Twitter. The idea is really interesting and this could prove to be a very useful service, but as with many social services, unless it gains more momentum on the number of members, i.e. providing me and you with ‘friends’, it lacks its primary ‘social’ value. Another service on the social side of search is Aardvark, which ‘helps people find what they want online by asking others who know the subject matter best—and who are likely to weigh in with a helpful response.’

[Via ReadWriteWeb and Business Week]

When Twitter Does Make Sense

Apart from the live news reportage usage of Twitter, I haven’t been seeing it as as much of a world-changing tool as some people around me do. Many digital things including Twitter happen when they become either playful or useful. The former case would be the by now semi-famous Baker Tweet, a tool designed by POKE to let them know when the hot buns are coming out of the ovens from the bakery across from their office. This win-win-win project has given regulars from the area the ability to know when edible bread is available, increased the sales of Albion, the bakery involved in the Twitter project, and given POKE extra publicity.

A case of a useful tool connected to Twitter has been recently created by Energy Circle, a company that sells energy-saving products and has created a new energy-monitoring system that sends home energy usage stats to Twitter. The system uses an energy measuring device called TED to create Google Visualization enabled charts that are then tweeted to everyone involved. Google itself has been working on a similar project, but it’s still in it’s non-practical stages. The designer’s family has been using the device for six months and claim that they’ve since managed to lower their energy use by 15%.

[Via ReadWriteWeb]