I was talking to Gwen van der Velden, head of the Director of Learning and Teaching Enhancement at the University of Bath recently. We spoke about the evaluation of Twitter that Andy Ramsden is currently engaged in with his colleagues in the e-learning unit. Gwen asked me for my views of how Twitter could be used and, in light of my recent trips to conferences, I described it as an ‘interactive business card’. When you go to a conference you’ll often exchange business cards with people you meet. But when you get back to work you’ll probably find (well I do anyway!) that you can’t remember whose card it was or what you have intended to get back to them about – and if this has happened to you before, you might have decided to scribble a note on the card; so now you have the additional task of deciphering the scrawl written late at night in the bar after the conference reception!
Exploring The Analogy
Exchanging Twitter IDs enables you to receive an informal stream of information which can help you to develop a better context for any follow-up activities. And if you decide you are not interested, you can remove the Twitter address from the people you follow – the equivalent, perhaps, of tearing up a business card.
I noticed a good example of this when I returned home after my chat with Gwen and read a tweet from ‘homebrewer’ which said:
@briankelly It’s free for reuse, but I haven’t put a license on it yet: http://tinyurl.com/5b7fbf
This was in response to a tweet from me after I spotted this tweet from homebrewer:
Dusting off my Google Analytics talk for this afternoon – should have kept my presentation notes from last time…
I had asked:
@homebrewer is your Google ANl;ytics talk avilable online? And is there a CC licence for reuse :-)
This to me provided a good example of the benefits of swapping Twitter IDs at conferences and the benefits of micro-blogging your work activities. Now the business card analogy is meant to refer to just one use case for twittering which works for me. Does it for you? And how might you apply this use case?
Applying The Analogy
How about creating a Twitter account before you go to a conference which you pass on to people you connect with? Then use the account during the conference to summarise your thoughts on the talks and provide some brief reflections when you return to work. This can then provide an ‘in’ for the contacts you’ve made – and there’s no need to sustain the micro-blogging or to worry about micro-blogging the minutae of your daily activities.
Why not give it a try – what’s there to lose?