Don’t Be a Twit, Get on the Twitter!

Don’t Be a Twit, Get on the Twitter!

“There’s
no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share.”
Steve
Ballmer, 
USA Today, April
30, 2007.
Sometime around 1990 I attended the National School Boards Association Technology
Conference in Dallas.  The vendor hall
was filled with exciting new technology! 
I recall seeing a 20 pound Apple “portable” computer and IBM was touting
their latest System 36 “minicomputer” which was about the size of Smart Car and
had less computing power than your grandpa’s flip phone.
But the seminal moment for me was when I got stuck talking
to a salesman from a company called America Online. He was excitedly describing
how one could sit in New York and write an electronic message to someone in
California!  It was free and
instantaneous!  As I am a technology
visionary and savant, my answer was “Why wouldn’t I just pick up the phone and
call?”  Really? Electronic mail?  It will never catch on. 
About ten years later as superintendent in Emporia, I recall
visiting with new teachers every year at the beginning year.  I would ask them how many had email
accounts.  In the early years, a
smattering of nerds would raise their hands, but after about three years it
became a dumb question to ask. 
Today we live in a world defined by Moore’s Law.  Computing power is increasing exponentially
and its power in communication moves equally fast.  Living in a house with two teenage girls I
have seen Facebook, Vine, Snapchat, YikYak and a host of other social media
come and go.  One thing that seems
to have some staying power is Twitter. 
Because we have established that I am a visionary when it comes to
technology, I never really saw the power of twitter.  I used it to share and receive news and
journal articles and for entertainment value.
After the last weekend of the legislative session, I
realized the true power of Twitter.  It excels
as an event-based social media tool.  I
should have noticed this before because I have watched twitter during KU
basketball games to see Fake Jeff Withey’s comments, during the last episode of
Breaking Bad to share an experience with like-minded fanboys, and while
watching Chief’s games to share the pain. 
Twitter is about being there even when you can’t be there.
The last weekend of the legislative session, even though I
was 800 miles away from Topeka, I was up at 2:00 AM with all of the rest of
those political junkies, sharing in the experience with those who were actually
there.  It was fascinating to watch and
learn.  Rumors started, peaked, and ended
or became truth in waves that might last minutes or even seconds.  Lobbyists and journalists interact with
regular folks, exchanging information and sorting through the noise to develop
a picture of what is really happening. (Special shout out to @tallman_mark and @tomkrebs1.)
Twitter allows everyone to be part of the action, see
different views and perspectives, and share their own.  By the time the newspaper is printed, it is
old news.  Skeptics like to quote Michael
Scott from the office who said, “Wikipedia is the best thing
ever. Anyone, in the world, can write anything they want about any subject. So
you know you are getting the best possible information.”  Michael’s ironic statement fails to take into
account that journalists are now some of the most active voices on Twitter, and
their reputations depend on accuracy in tweets as much as in print or on the
air. 
I am a convert, and new
converts are the worst about proselytizing, but school leaders need to embrace
social media.  Facebook, Twitter, and
whatever kids are using now that I haven’t even heard of are essential to
communicating both during “events” and for general information.  So get on the Google machine, search up The Twitter,
start yourself an account, and get in the game.