01 Nov

Out of context: Aborting Twitter-Facebook experiment

Last week I started my little Twitter-Facebook experiment in which I linked both accounts so that updates from Twitter would show up in Facebook and vice versa. I wanted to see what the changes are for me and for my followers / friends on both networks. Initially, I thought to let the experiment run for a few weeks. However, I will abort it partially today. But let’s start at the beginning.

Getting ready

Once I had decided to link my two accounts, I went in search of the right applications for Facebook to do so. Having Twitter updates displayed as Facebook status messages is pretty simple with Twitter’s own Facebook app. Doing the reverse took a while longer to set up. It finally worked with the SocialToo app for Facebook.

Being excited

After everything was set up, I was pretty excited because the actual experiment could start. I sent a few tweets, I posted a couple of Facebook status updates and they showed up in Twitter and Facebook. As I had predicted, I was more active on Twitter than on Facebook. Thus, the biggest impact should have been in my Facebook network.

Waiting for responses

Coming to the stage of reviewing what was happening in my Facebook account, I can’t really say if anything happened at all. True, I have not polled my friends, but just observed. And there was nothing to observe. OK, a couple of people liked a Twitter message or commented on it, but otherwise nothing. This can mean a few things:

  • they didn’t realize that something has changed
  • they didn’t care that my status messages increased
  • they didn’t care about some of the strange-looking status messages starting with RT
  • they wondered about the strange-looking status messages, but didn’t care to inquire with me what happened
  • they put me on the ignore-this-person’s-updates list due to the strange-looking messages

Getting the hives

Though nobody seemed to notice anything (or at least mention something to me), I got frustrated rather quickly which also led me to abort the experiment quickly.

Incidentally, danah boyd posted her insight into the difference between Twitter and Facebook status updates on the same day I started my experiment (I had not seen the post then). Many of her thoughts and also the comments on the post resonate with me. Conversations are easier to have on Facebook than on Twitter because the comment feature of Facebook places them right below the status update. Furthermore, the status updates and the comments can be longer than Twitter’s 140 characters.

I had already noted the difference in the audiences in my first post. As I use Twitter mainly for ed tech related stuff and Facebook for more personal things, I wondered how that would work out. My tweets are generally pretty straight-forward and include links or references to other Twitter users whereas my Facebook updates can be more cryptic and personal.

However, the single issue that led me to disconnect Twitter from Facebook is the fact that my tweets have context attached to them that my Facebook friends aren’t aware of and that may be strange to them as the majority are not on Twitter. For example: What do you make of a RT? What does a re-tweet has to do in Facebook? As I often refer to other Twitter users with the @ in a message, people don’t know about whom I talk. Of course, they could look up that person on Twitter, but that is too much work. There is no link back to my original tweet, but just a link to the Twitter app in Facebook. Gee thanks. That helps.

Fortunately, @ replies are left out of Facebook when the @ is the first character in a tweet.

Re-tweeting makes sense for me on Twitter as these tweets are either messages from my network or people close to it. I can easily click on the Twitter name of the persons who are re-tweeted and learn more about them or I can follow a link to their the status update and don’t have to search for it. On Facebook all that is taken away. The context is almost completely obscured.

The visual side of me also does not like how RTs look as status updates. It’s just wrong. I can’t really explain it. Maybe my brain has gotten used to the way my Facebook updates look and seeing a RT and @names there is just not visually pleasing. It is perfectly alright in Twitter, be it on the web or in any of the many desktop clients as that’s the natural habitat of my tweets.

Pulling the plug

Pull the Plug by SKellner CC-licensed, 2 September 2009

"Pull the Plug" by SKellner CC-licensed, 2 September 2009

The decision is made: I don’t want to have Twitter updates in Facebook anymore. I will deactivate the application and go back to Facebook-normal. I will keep SocialToo to be able to post from Facebook to Twitter. The good thing about this app is that you can decide an update-at-a-time whether it shall be posted to Twitter or not. If Twitter had such an option, I guess I would leave it connected to Facebook.

25 Oct


Brian Lamb gave a keynote today at the 21st WCET Annual Conference in Denver, CO entitled “The Urgency of Openness” – very fitting for Open Access Week.

Thanks to Chris Lott‘s Twitter messages about the keynote and the Ustream, I was able to view the presentation.

In his keynote, Brian Lamb gives his reasons for being open as in open education, open learning, open scholar. Two of his quote stuck immediately:

“Don’t worry about how you are going to share, but start sharing” and “reciprocal economy – it’s not just about the resources you share, it’s how much you give of yourself”.

Don’t worry about how you are going to share, but start sharing. Scott Leslie wrote a great post on just this topic in November 2008: “Planning to Share vs. Just Sharing”. The message in both the presentation and the blog post is clear: If you want to share, just do it and do not wait until all the details are dealt with, until everybody agrees. If you do that, you will never (or only after a long wait) be able to share and the action will be over.

If you can share openly, as Chris Lott and Jared Stein did with the Ustream of the keynote, everybody around the world can benefit from your efforts and not just a small number of people. What’s in it for you? Well, you put yourself out there and connect to people who may have interesting things for you. But you may never have known about them had you not been involved online and shown what interests you.

Sharing is not a one-way street. It is about reciprocity: giving and taking. However, “it is not just about the resources you share, it’s how much you give of yourself” as Brian Lamb quoted Martin Weller who uses the term “reciprocal economy” for that. The things and the way you share your knowledge, information etc. must be of value to others.

Martin Weller uses Twitter as an example which is quite suitable to show that there needs to be more than just resources to share in order to form connections that are valuable to both sides. The social aspect should not be neglected in the online world. I can find prime examples among people I follow on Twitter.

On the one hand, take Twitter user A who only sends tweets about published articles, book chapters etc. I have often followed up on his reading suggestions. However, I do not know anything about this person except that he reads a lot. I have yet to see a reply to people he follows or a retweet. I guess I could send him reading suggestions to his Twitter account and see if he lists them. But I am not inclined to do so because I can’t “see” who he is.

On the other hand, there is the group of Twitter users B who do not only provide links to interesting, funny, thoughtful information, videos, cartoons, blog posts, but who also share bits and pieces about their daily lives. I see the persons in every tweet because they are all different. They do not follow a standard way of writing, but they are individual and convey the personality of these people. The range of things they share is also wide. As they reply to tweets and also retweet, I get to know with whom they connect, where their interests lie, what they may laugh about. It is to those people that I address tweets and let them know about things that they may like instead of just sending out a tweet that gets lost in the constant stream of 140-character messages.

I have probably met only a handful of the people I follow more closely on Twitter, but I know more about them than of a large number of students and colleagues on campus and also friends whom I rarely see. Though these short messages can’t be a substitute for face-to-face conversations or longer online exchanges, they give a glimpse into our lives and make it possible to form relationships online.

Up until now I have kept Twitter and Facebook updates separate though my tweets are aggregated in Facebook so that the people in my network there can see everything. I have pondered about this decision for some time especially since Facebook became more Twitter-like. Is the distinction still necessary? I now also post more links in my Facebook updates than some time ago and they do not show up in Twitter unless I repost them there. Some Facebook updates are of a more personal nature or simply ones that I had not thought about posting to Twitter because the audiences are different. I know most of the people in my Facebook personally though that does not say anything about the degree of “knowing” as these personal acquaintances range from old-time friends, new friends, and colleagues to students whom I saw in a workshop or two. Twitter is more of a professional network with lots of people from whom I just know the tweets, but nothing else.

Now I am curious. I will embark on an experiment (don’t know yet how to monitor it and how easily I can gather the data from the past in Facebook) linking my Facebook updates to Twitter and vice versa so that they show up equally on both systems. What will the changes be for me (self-perception)? Will there be noticeable changes in Facebook and / or on Twitter, e.g. increased amount of comments, more replies? I assume that the biggest changes (if any at all) will be on Facebook as I generally do not change my status update daily. Although I am not a heavy Twitter user, I think I post there more often than on Facebook.

Off to install a Twitter app in Facebook…

16 Jan

ZZ are going to be top: First look at the Zotz plug-in for Zotero

Thanks to my Twitter network, I learn about interesting, funny, stunning, awesome, academic things to do, to read, to view, to reflect upon, and to wonder about.

Last night, I saw @zotero‘s latest post on a new plugin that would allow Zotero users to export library collections to the web. As I am a happy Zotero user as it facilitates the process of taking bibliographic notes, I needed to check this plug-in out with which one can upload connections to the internet.

Mike Wesch wrote a blog post on “The Digital Ethnographer’s Notebook: Diigo vs. Evernote vs. Tiddlywiki” In the comment section, Zotero was introduced to the discussion and with the just released plug-in Zotz, got points for moving into the online world.

Zotz allos users to publish collections from their Zotero library to Citeline of MIT. After a collection is uploaded to Citeline, one can change the appearance, title and what others would be allowed to see. The thus created page can be downloaded as an html file to be used on an intranet for example. Furthermore, the references can be saved as files to be imported in bibliographic manager software for further use.

That is a great start to share a (part of a) Zotero library with others. I assume that the development on Citeline will continue. There is a lot of potential because right now it is rather static beyond the basic editing options and thus there is space to grow:

  • The link to the exhibit (Citeline’s word for what Zotero calls collection) can be shared through an URL and the exhibit can be downloaded for use somewhere else. However, there is no way for me to tell Citeline whether I would like to keep the URL private or public.
  • You can only delete an entire library, but not individual entries.
  • You cannot add items to an already existing exhibit.
  • People with whom you share your Citeline exhibit cannot make comments.
  • Special characters are a slight problem. They got messed up during the upload.
  • You cannot update an entry on Citeline. This is not good esp. in light of the previous point. You would have to correct the letter to its English equivalent in Zotero and upload the entire collection again but to a new exhibit and re-do all the fine-tuning on Citeline.
  • You cannot search across of exhibits of one person.
  • Other “social networking” features could be helpful, e.g. adding people to your network to keep track of their exhibits. Saving exhibits of other people, being alerted when they created a new exhibit.

Despite this list of it-would-be-great-to-have-that features, and I can think of some more easily, I already like this plug-in because it allows me to share references with others in an easy way and let them know about some of my favorite funny YouTube videos.



10 Nov

Almost half the population

On November 3, 2008, the 3 billionth picture was uploaded to flickr generating 16,762 views for the photo until now. Had I not subscribed to Bryan Alexander’s blog this memorable moment would have passed unnoticed for me. Now I can pause for a second and contemplate a little bit.

  • If every person on earth had uploaded a picture to flickr, almost 45% of the population would have already done so. According to the CIA World Factbook there are 6,706,993,152 people (estimate of July 2008).
  • My flickr statistics show that I uploaded 373 photos. That is just 0.00001% of 3 billion.
  • However, my pictures have already been viewed 3,614 times as of now (excluding my views). That is much more exposure than they would have ever gotten in my paper photo albums.
  • One photo even made it into an online article.
  • How many flickr photos do not have the traditional copyright? Most of the pictures I post have a Creative Commons license and can be used freely.

I have many more pictures still sitting on a hard drive waiting to be uploaded, and then there are all those that are not yet digitized… Thus, I will continue to contribute photos to flickr.

almost the 3 billionth photo

almost the 3 billionth photo