Twitter for idiots
I'm just back from giving a 30 minute "Twitter for idiots" tutorial for one of our senior management team here at Eduserv. Note that the title isn't intended to be offensive - in fact, he chose it - but it certainly sums up the level of what I had to say. It reminds me that yesterday I tweeted rather negatively about the fact that CILIP are offering a Twitter for Librarians training course:
good grief... do #cilip really run a twitter course? - http://tinyurl.com/mxabo3 - speaks volumes methinks
Phil Bradley, who is running the course, quite rightly came back at me with a challenge to explain what, and who, it "speaks volumes" about.
So... two things. Firstly, it was an off the cuff remark - essentially a joke - but like all such things I guess there is a serious point behind it. The idea of running a half-day course to teach people how to tweet just struck me as funny! It's an anachronysm. In that sense, it says something about both the library community and CILIP I guess. Paying to sit in a room in order to find out how to create a "a good, rounded and effective Twitter profile", for example, smacks of a '1980s-style mainframe user-support application training programme' mentality that just doesn't sit comfortably with the way the Web works today. IMHO.
That doesn't mean that there aren't learning needs and opportunities around our use of Twitter by the way, I think there probably are, but I also think that people have to get Twitter before even thinking about such things and I'm not totally sure that you can teach people to get Twitter? People get Twitter by using it.
Secondly (and very much related to the last point), there is a visitors vs. residents issue here (to borrow David White's categorisation of online users). Twitter is a tool for residents. It's about people being immersed. It's about people "living a percentage of their life online". When visitors get hold of Twitter they see it as a tool to get a job done when the need arises - to push out an occassional marketing message for example. This is when things have the potential to go badly wrong (as seen recently with Habitat's use of Twitter). Again, the real issue here is whether you can teach/train visitors to become residents.
Note that I am not using the resident vs visitor divide in a judgemental way here. I'm happy to accept that the world is split into two types of people (no, not those who divide the world into two types of people and those who don't!) and I'm happy to accept that both approaches to the world are perfectly valid. But they are different approaches and I don't know how often people cross from one to the other, nor whether such changes come as the result of attending a course or workshop?