On Twitter, the microblogging service, many people interact and have interesting conversations. But how can you have an interesting conversation in 140 characters? How does it compare to forums or in-person discussions?
This week my New Media class had a Twitter discussion on our assigned readings for the week. Overall, I think this method works fine, as long as you set some guidelines. But before I go into why I think Twitter discussions work, let’s compare them to other ways of class communication:
One way we communicate in class is through a forum on a platform called Blackboard. As you probably know, forums are easy to use when everyone won’t be online at the same time. You can easily go back and read other’s discussion on whatever topic is presented. It is organized in a way that is very understandable, making it easy to know who is replying to what and when they did so. You can also elaborate on your thoughts without the character limit.
Another way classes communicate is through in-person discussion. Although this may seem like the ultimate form of communication, there are the issues of not being available at the same time as others and the expectation of an immediate response. When you work online, it’s easier to go back over what other people are saying. You can also re-read or take the time to think about the topic of discussion in ways that you can’t do in person without an awkward silence.
Now back to Twitter:
When you discuss something on Twitter, if you click on the original post you can see the replies under it. Also, if you use a hashtag for your topic, you can click the hashtag to see what people are saying about it. Some see the 140 character limit as a hinderance. However, I see it as a way to force people to be concise and get to the point in one sentence, eliminating unnecessary information. Sometimes however, some of the conversation seems to get lost in the waves if there are a lot of people discussing the topic. Not everyone will be replying to the same original message and some people forget to include the hashtag.
There are many pros and cons to every form of communication. Finding what works best for your time, topic and audience is the key.