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What I wouldn’t know without Twitter

Following on Twitter


To me, tweeting seemed liked using instant hand sanitizer.  How do we really know it's getting the job done?

So when I actively began my journey into the Twitterverse I did so with one question in mind:  What wouldn't I know without Twitter?  I decided to concentrate on what's being tweeted, thus neglecting (for the purpose of this "study") to worry about tweeting myself.  I know there are many who will see just being a "follower" is defeating the purpose of "Twitter", but it's my study and I can tweet (or not tweet) if I want to.  :)

You see, the idea of "following" someone (or an organization) on Twitter reminded me of the playground in kindergarten.  Remember escaping the classroom at the sound of the recess bell?  Kids raced onto the blacktop - instantly forming pairs or groups with whom they'd spend twenty minutes* of uninterrupted adult-free "play."  Of course you'd have the kids who were the "leaders" - the ones who always had someone in their shadow who followed them to the teeter totter, the swing set, the twisty slide.

Since entering the Twitterverse, I've followed twitterers to a lot of teeter totters, swing sets and twisty slides.  Across the blacktop of twitter.com I've read what people have wanted me to read, seen photos people have wanted me to see and clicked where people have wanted me to click.  After all, they're the "leaders" of the online playground.  And I've given them the power to direct recess.

So...what wouldn't I know without Twitter?  Here's a sample:

  • There's a car that was designed to run on coffee grounds - about 56 espressos per mile.
  • March 10th was the anniversary of the first phone call from Alexander Graham Bell to Thomas Watson.
  • Moody Radio Chicago is starting their "SHARE 2010" on March 16th and calling for a day of prayer today.  I learned this via Twitter and was connected to Facebook for more details.
  • I can earn a "barista badge" on foursquare from Starbucks.  (I sadly just learned "foursquare" is not in a global call to organize games of the classic playground favorite of the same name). 
  • A graduate from Compassion International's Leadership Development Program just created a Twitter account for people to see what life released from poverty is like.
  • I learned, before all of my non-Twitter friends, about a tragic event for World Vision that took the lives of ministry staff in Pakistan.

Now, I could have very well have become aware of each of these things without Twitter.  After all, a six year old doesn't necessarily need his classmates to go headfirst down a twisty slide.

So how do I know if Twitter is really getting the job done for me?  I mean, can a kindergartener really be a kindergartener without recess?  Probably.  But for now, I'm waiting for the bell to ring and the door swing open.  There's a kid who mentioned "monkey bars" and I'm following him.  Wouldn't you?

See you on the playground,

Katie Burke

Ambassador: We Connect.  Ministry and Media.

Next Time at Recess:

Inspired by Jim Garlow's challenge at NRB to embrace my missionary visa at home, I'll be following a few unlikely twitterers.  Jim said, "We are citizens of Jerusalem, but residents of Babylon."  In the next few weeks, I'm hoping to learn from those I follow how to "engage and transcend the culture"...the Twitter culture, that is.

*Thanks to Nikki Madigan, kindergarten teacher in Garden Grove, California for confirming the average recess time is twenty minutes.  Unless it's a child's birthday and they bring cupcakes.  In that case, it's a little longer.

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