Feeling a twit on a bike?

One of the interesting things which makes following new media so interesting is how users find uses for the medium which were never envisioned by the developers of the original application.

Twitter was set up in 2006 but did not become well known until the following year.  By early 2009 it was ranked as third in the social networking stakes.   The American market research firm, Pear Analytics researched the usage in 2009 and found that 41 percent of the tweets were “pointless babble”, 38 percent were conversations and 9 percent were tweets which were being forwarded from the first source.  Only a percentage of the remaining 12 percent were spam.   The Pear Analytics report does not say what people were writing in the remaining tweets but we can gain occasional glimpses.

Twitter has shown itself to be a powerful organisational and political tool.  In the unrest after the Iranian elections in June 2009, the protesters, mostly young, were using Twitter to mobilise their supporters on a scale which makes boy racers organising illegal street races look positively decrepid.

Another example to appear in this northern summer is Twitter and bicycles. While it isn’t safe to tweet while cycling, any more than it isn’t safe to text while driving, if you happen to be unable to cycle. then perhaps tweeting is more than just OK.
Cyclists in Boston, Massachusssetts have a new weapon in their arsenal against bike thieves – Twitter. The Stolen Bike Alert programme, run by Boston Bikes, a department of the City of Boston, sends an alert to police, local bike shops, hospitals, schools and subscribers when a bike is reported stolen . The alerts are sent via Twitter, Facebook or email, instantly raising awareness of the stolen bike.
Read more here:http://www.bikebiz.com/news/30890/Twitter-tackles-bike-thieves

Since I started this post, the reach of Titter has come closer to my own life.  This last week I found out through Facebook that John Key had a photographer take snap of him being shown around the Hillside Workshops by my brother in law.  In the past this would not have been particularly significant unless the photographer was a press photographer and the Otago Daily Times was short on copy.  Now Mr Key may not be able to have his image and his activities at the front of the media but he can broadcast this material and have it picked up by a significant proportion of the public.  He does this by having these photographs put his Twitpic page.

Today my son showed me how he is able to follow Mr Key and in addition Barak Obama, as well as the Democratic Republic of Korea.  (In return the North Koreans are following him!)

There are so many new applications for Twitter coming up because Twitter is flavour of the month.  What is most interesting, is not all these new applications, but the fact that Twitter like texting seems so limited in its 140 characters or less, yet its applications grow.

What concerns me though is that teachers seem rather slow at adopting these new technologies for educational purposes.   I started writing about how texting was changing the world of commerce five years ago and only now are teachers being recognised for using hand held devices. How long before Twitter is widely used in education?


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