Thursday, 23 April 2009

The Great University of Canberra Twitter War

Fibre optic cables burned bright today from the Great UC Twitter War. This war was fought primarily on the UC Chat email discussion list. Wearing the black hats were the latter-day luddites proclaiming email was best. In the white hats were the twitter champions. This blog is not a balanced, unbiased reporting of the events. As they say, history is written by the victors.

The twitter champs had a number of compelling points:
  • Twitter is a pull technology - the reader chooses which tweets to follow. Email is a push technology - the writer chooses who gets the email
  • Hashtags allowed users to search for and to follow conversations
  • 140 characters kept the waffle to a minimum
  • Twitter is an emergent technology and its full potential is still unknown - we "need to live in the stream" to discover its potential
  • RT (re-tweets) spread the message virally
  • "Email is connecting with the people you used to know, Twitter is connecting with the people you would like to know"
The luddites arguments were the result of failure to understand what twitter can do and listening to myths rather than evidence:
  • It is too hard to know what to follow - that is what hashtags are for
  • Twitter is only used for inane conversations: what I had for breakfast type tweets - twitter is used for much more. Criticising the entire system becauses some uses are inane is like criticising PCs because some people play games on them.
Forensic analysis of the battlefield revealed a number of new users of twitter willing to explore (I had three new followers this afternoon as a result of the battle). It also revealed a number of lurkers to the exchange who were not interested in the war - the Swiss approach. Sufficient evidence to declare victory - where is an aircraft carrier when I need one?

Post-war analysis revealed the need to formalise some hashtags for the University. During the war I proposed #UCanberra but, in hindsight, #UCan will be better as it uses fewer of the 140 characters. Searching reveals that #UCan is not being used at present (#UC has been taken by the University of California). #UCan can also be appended for sub-units of the University. For example #UCanBG could be used by the Faculty of Business and Government.

The tweety of Versailles has left peace - for now.