HighEdWeb Assocation October 10-13, 2010

Session Details


Why Do You Tweet?

SOC5 Social Media Track

Continental Ballroom, Mezzanine Level


For better and worse, Twitter has become the poster child of the social Web. But what's the allure? Tweeting is the act of letting your followers know what you are up to in 140 characters or less. It was never meant to be a social network. In fact, one of Twitter's co-founders, Evan Williams, believes Twitter's power lies in the fact that it's an information network and not a social network. And, I think he could not be more wrong. That may have been the intent when it was created, but that is not how Twitter is primarily used nor where it's power lay. I believe it's because Twitter is used as a social Web application that it is important and worthy of study. This session will explore the nature of the social Web in an attempt to get at its essence. Using Twitter as a reference point, we will examine the impact of the social Web on our notions of identity and community. We will discuss the continuous feedback loop existing between humans and the social Web and how each of us exists in our current state because of the harmonious tension we bring to bear upon each other. I posted this same question (Why Do You Tweet?) on YouTube awhile back, and it really struck a chord with people. The video was viewed hundreds of times and elicited dozens of responses from video replies, to blogs posts, emails, tweets, even a blog post on eduGuru.


Jeff Swain
Instructional Designer, Penn State

Jeff is an instructional designer in the department of Education Technology Services (ETS) at Penn State; his fancy title is Innovation Consultant. This means he gets to play with a lot of new technologies looking for their potential in teaching and learning.  He's also a PhD candidate in the department of Education, and his dissertation topic is an ethnographic study focusing how the social Web is shaping our sense of community and identity.