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Archive for April 28th, 2009

I did an impromptu test/illustration today of how Twitter provides instant, helpful answers.

I was speaking to Pat Pisarik’s media convergence class at Loras College. I hadn’t planned a presentation on Twitter, but mentioned it in passing and someone asked a question about it and then someone else asked what tweets are and how Twitter works. I quickly opened Twitter and tweeted: Explaining Twitter in a Loras class. Tweeps, tell me how you’ve found Twitter helpful today.

The responses started coming in seconds:

@danielrandolph, a student in the class who was asking thoughtful questions, had the quickest response:  tweeting back to you in class.

I was not at all surprised to see @hidama from Coe College next in line, answering: “I just asked @urbanbigfoot the name of the hair salon he goes to – I wanted to suggest it to a friend. Now that’s useful.”

Next came @ellynangelotti of Poynter in St. Petersburg, Fla.: “Today we are using twitter in our live chat to solicit questions (none have come in yet) http://is.gd/v8ZF”  (I hope some came in.)

@gmarkham of Vancouver added: “twitter helps me stay in touch with smart journo/commentators; great alert system for breaking news; just plain fun.” (3 points in under 140 characters.)

From Wichita @lkelly chimed in: “I’ve received natl / local news alerts, offered restaurant recommendations for conf, learned friend was laid off, sent news tip.” (4 tips, 5 if you count national and local news alerts as 2.) She also retweeted my request, passing it along to another 218 followers.

From Cedar Rapids, @Vinnyschick joined: “I like getting concise, very current news so I can be on top of things without wasting time searching and perusing websites.”

You’d think someone who’s as good at headlines as Gazette copy editor @dvdlee wouldn’t need two tweets to answer me, but he did: “It was through Twitter that I found and shared the youtube video of New Yorkers running from low-flying AF1 backup plane.” And: “…and if I can plan/present things properly, I’d include a link on the first tweet: http://tinyurl.com/dxpkwh

@suzannetobias, also in Wichita, retweeted my request to another 857 followers and replied herself: “Local tweeps provided great updates during tornado and flood warnings here in Wichita on Sunday.”

@judylubben of Cedar Rapids, who doesn’t tweet a lot, tweeted that she still finds it useful to follow others: “I like being up to date on what is happening without searching all over to find out.”

@jaredtaylor, a South Texas journalist, tweeted: “we found somebody who said she was tested for swine flu today.”

@MomFromOz, apparently a Kansan, responding to @susannetobias and me, tweeted: “I got an opportunity to volunteer at ROKICT this weekend! Woot! That’s how I twit!” Not sure what ROKICT is, but she apparently had fun. (I gotta say, I spent a lot of time in Kansas, and I’m pretty sure those beach photos on her page were not shot in Kansas. She must have gone over the rainbow for her honeymoon.)

@JKonchar, who took my Edge Business Magazine Twitter class earlier this month, is already getting the hang of it: “Keeping up to date on News and what is going on in Iowa and all around us.”

Another one of my staff members, @mollyr, needed two tweets to respond: “I’m always using Twitter to garner sources, story ideas, direct people to my blog,” and “It’s become a real important writing tool for me.”

And in a direct message, @suebb, former managing editor of the Detroit News, replied: “Re Twitter helpful. 1st place for news more + more. Today, found out Detroit CEO going to USAT via Twitter.”

Most of those tweets came within minutes and I was able to show them off to the class, illustrating the swift nature of Twitter as well as getting great variety in my answers.

Chuck Offenburger, who gave me my first job in this business some 38 years ago before I started my senior year of high school, asked me a while back to help him get started in Twitter. About an hour after those swife responses, while I was driving back to Cedar Rapids, @chuckoburger (who used to teach at Loras, if memory serves) gave one of the best answers: “You can’t still be tweettalking the Loras class, but I’d have said Twitter today reminded me I can sing the Loras fight song.”

I couldn’t resist responding to the Iowa Boy: “Apologies to anyone who had to listen to @chuckoburger sing the Loras fight song. I didn’t mean to start that.”

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Thanks to Mark Potts for his lavish praise on his Recovering Journalist blog for my Blueprint for a Complete Community Connection. I would quote it here, but that would be too immodest even for me. I hope my Gazette colleagues and I can justify his kind words. Mark Briggs piled on with more praise, too. Again, thanks.

I posted the blueprint yesterday as a series of blog posts. If you are interested in innovation in the media, I encourage you to read it, either by starting on the link above or by reading the pdf below:

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