UK Web Focus

Innovation and best practices for the Web

Reshaping my Twitter Network

Posted by Brian Kelly on 21 January 2014

Managing One’s Personal Learning Network

Pruning My Twitter Network

In the autumn I took part in the Hyperlinked Library MOOC. One of the assignments was to develop plans for use of an Online Professional Learning Network (OPLN). The specific requirements included developing a Network Maintenance Plan:

This will provide answers to questions such as: How will you maintain your online professional learning network? When will you adjust it? At what points will you actively add to it or delete from it? Is there a particular type of technology that you will employ to make the best use of your network? Will there ever be a point where you would create a new plan from scratch?

As I described in the assignment:

My new job [as Innovation Advocate at Cetis] will provide an opportunity to prune my professional network, removing Twitter accounts, blog feeds, etc. which are no longer relevant to my new role (unless, for example, I still gain value for the personal connections).

Numbers of Twitter followersIn November I began work in pruning my Twitter network, and on 13 November I reduced the number of people I follow in Twitter from 1,426 to 1,397. However it was just before Christmas, on 23 December, when I deleted a significant number of my Twitter community. As illustrated on that date the numbers of people I followed went down from 1,426 to 1,122, a drop of 324 (note the graph is taken from the Twittercounter service).

I used the Social Bro Chrome extension for my Chrome browser in order to help identify followers to remove.

Social Bro list of inactive followersAs shown, this tool helped me to identify the people I follow who appear to have stopped using Twitter. The tool was also useful in highlighting Twitter accounts which may be used by spammers.

Of course, the more difficult decision to make was when to stop following accounts which are being used in a legitimate way, but are no longer aligned with my main professional interests. The decision I made was to remove significant numbers of accounts from contacts I’ve made over the years with the museums sector (unless I had a string personal connection.

As can be seen I did not quite achieve my target of 1,000 followers (and the number has started to grow slowly since the purge). However the exercise was useful and I may chose to repeat it yearly.

Growing my Online Personal Learning Network

My Cwtis and LACE networks shown in TweetdeckThe intention in pruning my Twitter network was to enable the network to be reshaped in order to be able to more effectively engage with communities relevant to my new role as Innovation Advocate at Cetis.

As I described in the blog post in which I summarised my plans for the development of my online professional learning network I intended to follow the accounts of my Cetis colleagues. In order to make it easier to view tweets from my colleagues I set up a Twitter list.

However since the main Twitter client I use on my desktop PC is Tweetdeck I also set up a Tweetdeck column of my Cetis colleague, which enables me to easily see their tweets and areas of interests which they have retweeted. In addition to work related content which I can find on internal mailing lists or Cetis blogs, Twitter also enables me to get to know my colleagues informally

As shown in the screen shot I have also set up a Tweetdeck column for a new area of work I am involved in – the EU-funded LACE project. As described on the LACE Project Web site:

LACE will:

  • Organise a range of activities designed to actively and passively integrate communities that are conducting LA/EDM research, early practitioner adopters, and those who are building first-generation commercial or open-source software. This integration would be used to stimulate creativity and accelerate the identification of viable and effective solutions to real problems, and hence to drive both current research and technology transfer.
  • Create and curate a knowledge base of evidence. This will capture evidence for the effectiveness and the relative desirability of the outcomes resulting from use of various tools and techniques.
  • Actively participate in the exploration of plausible futures for learning analytics and EDM by combining the creation of imaginative scenarios with participatory workshops and structured methods including a Policy Delphi to assess differences of opinion about the feasibility and desirability of possible future states, thus informing future research and policy agendas.

The LACE project brings together existing key European players in the field of learning analytics & EDM who are committed to build communities of practice and share emerging best practice in order to make progress towards four objectives.

I have started to follow project partners using the #laceproject Twitter hashtag. Interestingly I have just noticed that the @TheLaceProject Twitter account is used to promote fashion and jewelry and so there will be an interesting clash of hashtags!

How Do You Manage Your Twitter Network?

My change of jobs provided me with an opportunity to reflect on my professional networks. This was helped by the Hyperlinked Library MOOC assignment which argued that one need to plan the growth of one’s network and to proactively manage it in order that the contacts reflect one’s changing areas of interests.

I used to have an annual calendar alert which reminded me it was time to check the links provided on legacy project Web sites in order to ensure that technical or others changes hadn’t resulted in problems with the structural integrity of the Web sites (see the audit trail on the UK Web Archive copy of the Cultivate Interactive Web site).

However it seems to me that it would now be more relevant to have an annual survey of one’s professional networks and to see what maintenance may be needed in order to ensure that the professional network continues to provide a useful role. Does anyone else do this?


View Twitter conversation from: [Topsy]

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5 Responses to “Reshaping my Twitter Network”

  1. Hi Brian – glad to have made the cut(!) and thank you for prompting me to do something similar. I’ve had social bro for a while but this post has encouraged me to take a look at what it can offer me in terms of making for a more readable stream.

    I’m interested that you are using Tweetdeck as a desktop client – do you mean within a browser window. I’m casting round for a proper desktop client as twitter policies are beginning to strangle the otherwise superb Janetter which I’ve been using across PC and Android. A twitter client recommendation post would be hugely welcome – I need something to keep me from the clutches of HootSuite!

  2. Hi David
    Thanks for the comment.

    Tweetdeck was my preferred client on a number of platforms including my desktop PC and my iPod Touch.

    However when Twitter bought out the company they removed it from the Apple Store. I thought they had also deleted the desktop client. However I was able to install a Windows 8 version, even though it doesn’t seem to be available form the WIndows 8 App Store.

    Googling for ‘tweetdeck windows 8′ gives me a link to
    http://www.tweetdeck.com/download/pc/latest‎ (note I tried to not make this a link, as I don’t like linking to binary files directly – there’s a need for the contextual HTML file. However WordPress is creating the link automatically).
    which, please note, seems to be to the Tweetdeck executionable rather than a page about the software.

    I assume Twitter deleted pages about the Tweetdeck application but not the software itself.

    Note I take your point about the dangers of Hootsuite – yesterday I tried to view a Google Map of speakers at the 17 IWMW events, which is at
    https://maps.google.com/maps?q=http://iwmw.ukoln.ac.uk/about/rss/speakers-all.rss

    Rather than going to the page, Hootsuite displayed a pop-up.

    Is this the same problem highlighted yesterday by the BBC News in their article on Chrome extensions targeted by spam firms and a few days before that in Martin Hakwsey’s post on Thieving Feedly: Pulling off a Twitter Card heist. Or is Hootsuite doing something different to Feedly?

  3. sheilmcn said

    Hi Brian

    Hope I made the cut. I should probably take some time and do the same. I think I just act in a decentralized, self organizing (aka lazy) mode, whereby I know I only really interact with a small percentage of my followers and am not too bothered about the rest unless they start posting a lot of stuff that I find irrelevant.

  4. […] having too many people to follow do have a legitimate point, although this can be addressed by a periodic culling of one’s network, which might be particularly useful when one’s work activities […]

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