My Wordle and TweetStats

Thanks to Laura Scott from rare pattern for telling me about Wordle. Here’s what I’ve been talking about lately on this blog.
Wordle 3-23-09

Laura also mentioned TweetStats, which I tried out, too. Here’s a vision of what I’m Tweeting about (or to).

tweetscan 3-23-09

Two interesting examples of helpful online tools that are free and highly useful. WEB APPS!

Summary of eHow Articles for March

The bulbs stretched their heads above the ground, the trees bloomed, the grass took on a new green hue, and web geeks from around the world gathered in Austin for SXSW Interactive. Amid all those distractions, here’s what I wrote on eHow in March. More . . .

Registration Line at SXSW Interactive

The bulbs stretched their heads above the ground, the trees bloomed, the grass took on a fresh green hue, and web geeks from around the world gathered in Austin for SXSW Interactive. Registration numbers were up by 25% at SXSWi, as the registration line pictured above suggests.

Amid all those distractions, here’s what I wrote on eHow in March.

The business case for Twitter and other social media

Watch a most excellent presentation about how to use social media in the business world.

About a month ago, Scott Westerman from Comcast went to a meeting of web geeks. He talked about how Comcast is using social media. It was in a noisy venue, but it’s worth the effort to watch the presentation.

Any business that is ignoring social media is doing so at their own peril. Scott makes a compelling case for establishing a one-on-one relationship with customers through social media.

His advice is valuable because he’s doing it right, he’s changing hearts and minds in relation to Comcast, and he’s retaining customers who might otherwise leave.

Everything he says can be applied at a university level.

Useful Links: Twitter hashtags, Imagine Cup, microformats, a CSS presentation

Twitter hashtags, a competition for students, microformats and a CSS presentation. More . . .

What’s that Hashtag? New glossary of tools for Twitter at Contentious is a good list of links to helpful Twitter tools, including the new site Tagref where you can register a hashtag.

Students will be interested in the Microsoft Imagine Cup Competition, a global Technology Student Competition focused on solving real world issues.. To learn more, start at Web Designer Wall.

Emily Lewis, from A Blog Not Limited, announced a deal with Peachpit to write a microformats book. I know she’s going to do a top notch job, and look forward to being one of her first readers. Emily honored me with a little shout out in the announcement on her blog. I’ve mentioned her work before in a number of places: here, herehere, and  here, as well as there, and there.

Speaking of Emily Lewis, she and co-leader Jason Nakai of the Webuquerque section of the Albuquerque Adobe Users Group gave a program about CSS last night. Here are a few tweets and a photo from the event. One of the tweets includes a link to the presentation.

vdebolt: Coolest thing I learned at #webuquerque tonight was about DustMe Selectors from @jnakai.

about 9 hours ago

queenofgeek: Woo Hoo! I won Dreamweaver CS4 Classroom in a book at the Adobe User Group Meeting! Thanks @webuquerque!

about 9 hours ago

brianarn: Awesome presentation tonight at @webuquerque – wish I could stay for geeks who drink. Hopefully next time! Good stuff!

about 10 hours ago

ashdhart: Link for CSS slideshow #webuquerque

about 10 hours ago

ksilver: #webuquerque @emilylewis is showing some cool css tricks.

about 10 hours ago

ksilver: #webuquerque sounds @jnakai had his full in this project; he suggested to take small steps.

about 10 hours ago

ashdhart: Learning great CSS tips from @emilylewis and @jnakai #webuquerque

about 10 hours ago

ksilver: #webuquerque learning how to cleanup legacy css.

about 10 hours ago

Twitter in education

Rachel Reuben, writing at .eduGuru, asks Is Your University Using Twitter to Its Fullest Potential? She makes excellent points about how universities can monitor Twitter for mentions of special programs or their university, how they can set up accounts to manage outreach on Twitter for the university, and how to begin Twitter conversations helpful to the university.

What she doesn’t mention is using Twitter during class. Using the backchannel during class, if you will. I’ve been thinking about this article at Pistachio Consulting: How to Present While People are Twittering. It’s about conference presentations, but it could easily be about classroom presentations. Also worth thinking about is Olivia Mitchell’s Is Twitter a good thing while you’re presenting? One idea she mentions is the one-liner “Tweetbite” or a big concept that’s quotable in 140 characters.

What if you monitored the backchannel among your students while you were lecturing–see their questions, thoughts, confusions–while you were talking?

Is anybody doing this?

Tomorrow on BlogHer, I’ll be writing more about the backchannel. I’ll add a link here at that time. On BlogHer: The Audience is Tweeting.

Quoting Tweets on Your Blog? Try Twickie

Twickie will display threaded Tweets as text on a blog or website. More. . .

Are you posting Twitter conversations on your blog? Do you wish you had a way to make them look good so the conversation was easier to follow? There’s a very new application that will collect a thread and provide some code to paste on your blog. It’s easy and free.

The tool is called Twickie. Right now it’s on Chris Pirillo’s personal site, but it may move to its own domain in the future. It’s isn’t perfect yet;  it’s just getting started, though it works pretty well already.

the Twickie page

It’s easy to use. No downloads. Just go the Twickie site, and log in to Twitter. Your most recent tweets will appear. If you want to collect a thread you click a button that says “Get @s” and the thread is given. For any threaded conversation, code is provided.

export Twickie code

The code is basic HTML including some inline styles that make the thread look like Twitter conversations. It can be pasted on a blog or web page. Here’s an example. The conversation is less than wonderful, but it does illustrate the point. I copied the code from Twickie to create the following:

Miraz: Always happy to oblige. I hope things are well where you are. Rain here and more Webstock. 🙂

about 17 minutes ago

falmouthdesign: What sort of reply are you looking for? Did I miss the question?

about 24 minutes ago

vdebolt: Need @ replies for a BlogHer post. Would you reply to this, please, please, please. You are truly kind!

about 45 minutes ago

Looks good, doesn’t it? It’s text, with clickable links to profiles on Twitter. A big improvement over showing Twitter conversations as images.

As I said, it isn’t perfect. For example, I replied to some of these replies, which brought in another reply. Twickie doesn’t pick these up as part of the original conversation. Each Tweet I sent out was the start of its own thread. The only @s that got pulled in, were the ones sent directly in response to the original Tweet. It would be great if Twickie recognized that a reply in response to a reply is part of the thread. Maybe I’m asking for the impossible.

You can’t do a Twickie search for hash tags. I’d like to see that added. I think it would be especially useful when following breaking news or tracking events and conferences. There are sites that track hashtags, but not threaded.

This tool is so new, I couldn’t find anyone using it yet. If you give it a try and post something on your blog using Twickie, let us know so we can take a look.

More Information: Twickie video with Chris Pirillo. You can follow @twickie on Twitter to keep up with news about this tool.

Cross posted at BlogHer.

Twitter, ad infinitum

Twitter is proving itself to be infinitely expandable are capable of amazing things. One of the most interesting uses for Twitter is raising money for worthy causes. Could it raise awareness for web standards education? More . . .

Twitter is proving itself to be infinitely expandable and capable of amazing things. Within the last month or two we’ve seen a coal ash disaster in Tennessee and a plane crash in the Hudson River reported first on Twitter. And arguably with better information than the media could get for several hours.

Gez Lemon recently used Twitter to survey people about whether or not alt should be required in HTML5. This is the tweet that started it all:

Should alt be required for img in HTML5? Please use the hashtag #althtml5 if you respond, so I can find the responses.

You can see the responses using a Twitter search for the hashtag #althtml5. (You’ll see several responses from me, since I originally misunderstood the question to mean that an alt attribute could not be emtpy, as in alt=””. With a little hand-holding from Laura Carlson, I finally realized that he was asking if the alt attribute should be required to be there, even if it’s empty. To which I respond: yes, indeed.)

On a small, local level, a couple of web developer friends recently organized a successful Webuquerque meeting with nothing more than a Facebook page and Twitter.

Twitter is now used to raise money for charity. The latest example is Twestival. Twestival is a world wide Tweet Up to raise money for clean water. You can organize a Twestival in your city, attend an event in your city, or participate online. The event will be on Feb. 12. I predict that it will be a landslide success.

Smaller Twitter fund raising projects have been reported by Mommy Gossip Cares in How Is Mom It Forward Changing the World One Mom at a Time? where $1400 for Thanksgiving dinners were raised with Twitter.

Beth Kanter realized the value of Twitter early on. Recently, she did a thorough analysis of using Twitter for charity in Twitter As Charitable Giving Spreader: A Meta Analysis, which reports on a number of events. She’s successfully raised money using Twitter. She tells more micro-fund raising stories in Twestival: Here Comes Everyone to Raise Money on Twitter for Charity: Water.

When millions of people all over the world are interconnected by the same technology, there’s no telling what can be done with it. New and wonderful uses  appear, ad infinitum.

Since Twitter can be harnessed to do good, can it be harnessed to improve education? I’ve been working for months with a group from the Web Standards Project (WaSP) on a standards-based modular curriculum framework for web design education. It’s under discussion in places like A List Apart, The Magazine for People who Make Websites. The curriculum will be released to the public at SXSWi.

I’m wondering if we should release it with a world-wide Tweet Up. The Tweet Up wouldn’t raise money, but it could raise awareness and send educators to the not-yet-public web site housing the first round of completed courses.

Or perhaps an organized Tweet Up isn’t even necessary. What if every person attending the WaSP annual meeting at SXSWi and every person attending the No Web Professional Left Behind: Educating the Next Generation panel at SXSWi sent out a tweet about the curriculum?

Philanthropy 2173’s Give Fast, lists benefits of Twitter for fund raising:

  • Community building (you can identify other donors, everyone blogs about it), instant infrastructure (giving managed by chip-in, Paypal enables the back office);
  • Quick commitment – set a goal, reach it, move on;
  • Little gifts – and lots of them – are the holy grail;
  • Creativity matters – next year you’ll need a new twist;
  • Anyone at an organization might be the leader of your next campaign;

Change those benefits to describe education or any other topic you want, the benefits still apply. The quick commitment – set a goal, reach it, move on item seems particularly relevant.

What could you accomplish with a conference audience of several hundred people if all of them tweeted the same topic at an event? For the attendee, it’s a quick commitment, just 140 characters, yet still a contribution. The results are big, even though the individual effort is small.

Cross posted at BlogHer.