So I’ve been playing with Twitter all weekend long and today I had my first Twitter-ific success.

For those of you who haven’t quite made the Twitter jump yet, it is essentially a public instant messaging system that allows users to attract “followers” and to “follow” others. As Sheryl Nussbaum Beach so aptly explains, Twitter is a way for people to build a “personal learning network” of colleagues and friends who can provide just-in-time help, resources and advice about almost anything.

The central element in a Twitter conversation is called a Tweet—-and it is a short (140 character message) that users send through an online client that looks just like any other instant messaging application that you’ve ever seen before. That message immediately appears in the Twitter windows of anyone who is “following” you….and they can respond with help/advice/suggestions/ ideas/compassion/random insults/open sarcasm if they feel so inclined.

I signed up and sent my first Tweet or two last weekend….but didn’t have any followers! A lot of good that does me, right? Calling for help when no one is listening is somewhat useless, don’t you think?

Then I stopped by the Teacher Leaders Network and advertized my Twitter-ness. Found out that about six digital friends are in the Twitter-verse (a term used by Twitter-heads to describe the conversation that happens via Tweets). They started following me and I started following them!

I also picked up a few Twitter followers when Sheryl—who’s got quite a Twitter following—sent a Tweet advertizing me as a Twitter Virgin. (I’m not sure that’s an official part of the Twitter lexicon, but it ought to be, don’t you think?  Besides, it might drive a few hits to the Radical from search engines.)

I headed into school this morning and found out that Twitter is blocked by our school’s network (which considers it a dating service despite the obvious difficulties of courting in a 140 characters or less) and went home discouraged. I sent a Tweet out to my very small following asking if anyone had found a way to use Twitter in schools through an approved third party application…..and got an answer (and a solution that works) in all of eight minutes from someone I’ve never met who is following me.

Crazy, huh?

So what’s the real power in Twitter?

The members of a Twitter Family (again, probably not a term from the Twitter dictionary) can serve as instant resources for one another, giving and getting advice immediately.

Even crazier….I bumped into one of my students at the gym yesterday and told him about Twitter. He went home, signed up immediately and sent me a Tweet before I made it back to my computer screen. Since then, he and I have been sharing resources about how to best enjoy the Twitter-verse.

Way cool to say the least.

Anyone out there Twittering in your professional lives?  Why?  Do you have a Twitter success story?  How about Twittering with kids?  Can we work to shape Twitter into a tool for communicating with colleagues?  With students?  Will Twitter Families (or something similar) become invaluable resources for everyone in the future?

Wanna swap Twitter names?  (I know, there I go talking dirty again!)

Mine’s plugusin.

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