Thursday, February 12, 2009

What People know, via Twitter

The fine folks at Pew have a new survey out that describes the growth of services like Twitter, which is basically an update service where, in 140 characters or less, you can share what you're up to, or comment about breaking news, or even describe what's happening. If you haven't tried Twitter, do it.

Twitter has not been terribly successful as a news tool, but I suspect it'll improve. I already get updates from the daily student newspaper on campus. I also get updates from lots of friends and students and faculty -- some interesting, some not so much.

Stories come off a bit petty and sophomoric via Twitter, and the more serious the story, the less it seems to work. In part this is the medium, in part we haven't learned how to send info in this manner. I think it really works on breaking news or commentary as news is breaking -- at least from a news standpoint, in what people know or learn. But at its heart it's a social networking shared experience for the truly narcissistic or deeply connected, meaning I check it a couple of times a day.

Do people learn from Tweets (those individual Twitter posts)? As yet to be studied, though my semi-educated hunch is no, you don't really learn from a public affairs and political knowledge standpoint. Then again, that's not why it was created. I look forward to studies on this.

Oh, and the best uses of Twitter received awards. See here.

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