I was lucky enough to visit with Odeo sometime last year while on business in San Fransisco and thought what they were doing at the time was very interesting and honestly very important in the education space. I remember sitting in their SF office space in a conference room that looked down into the developers area and remembering how much I missed the days of start ups and small teams all working together to do good things. That aside, the tools they were building (and have since killed off) are still the holy grail of podium podcasting as far as I am concerned. The Flash based recorders they had were amazing and the fact you could record right in the browser, or by calling a special phone number impressed me and a bunch of students who were using it in my class. I could tell they were smart people … but to tell you the truth they seemed to be searching for their true space. I guess that’s why I wasn’t too surprised to learn that they are now part of Obvious and that they have once again changed exactly what they do.
I have been reading about Twitter for a few months now but never really thought much of the concept. The idea of wasting time to update the mundane seemed not only silly, but almost downright stupid. But then I got an account, asked a bunch of co-workers to get accounts, and started to think out loud with them about how we could use this. I am now seeing Twitter as a very interesting tool set for a whole host of things … a bunch of them are around organizational dynamics, structure, project tracking, and other on the job kinds of things. There are obviously fun things that can be done with Twitter, but as I am thinking more and investigating I am finding people doing good things with it. I can see educational opportunities on the horizon, but I need more time to formulate them. Here’s an example of a woman who has been using Twitter to do sort of live walking tours — there’s something in that concept that needs to be further teased out. I am thinking about the upcoming TLT Symposium and how we could use Twitter to keep people on the outside feeling like they are a part of it … again, there’s something to this.
Here’s an example of what I am thinking about as a single possibility … we are having a plasma display hung in the hallway when you get off the elevator in our offices. One thing that strikes me as an interesting thing to display there would be a custom Twitter widget of some sort that would integrate with the kiosk style information we’ll be displaying on the screen (did I mention they have an exposed API?). What strikes me as interesting is the fact that as a person walks off the elevator not only are they greeted with high quality digital signage that speaks to who we are, the Twitter stream could let them instantly know what we are all doing. If I could get more of the ETS staff using Twitter we could create a fairly interesting running archive of what a given day looks like in ETS — when I get asked the question, “what the hell do you people do all day,” I could simply pull the ETS Twitter Stream up and let them look for themselves. Another thing that we’ve been discussing is if by updating Twitter status people would be more likely to stay on task? I really don’t know the answer, but I do know I would be less likely to take the time to walk across the hall to ask a colleague a question if their Twitter status told me they were talking with a faculty member. Again, just thinking out loud. One thing I would want to add to Twitter to use it as a business tool is the ability to “tag” Twitter messages with things like “work” or “personal” and only see the work tagged updates show up on the ETS Twitter Stream.
So now that I have a handful of friends on Twitter updating their status I am getting a good feeling for what it is all about. One of my friends, Brad Kozlek, had knee surgery this past week and was providing Twitter updates during the day … it was an interesting example of how this thing can be used for all sorts of stuff. The next couple of weeks will see us tease some more information about Twitter out … if it is useful you’ll see more and if it isn’t you won’t. Either way I think it is worth some more investigation. For now, you can check me out on Twitter … get an account and add me as a friend so we can see what happens in a large network. I have integrated one of the pre-built Twitter badges here at my site that keeps a running list of the people in my Twitter network … take a look. Join in and tell me what you think.