Twitter Literacy

Is it possible to create a top ten rank ordered list of useful and interesting problems & purposes that Twitter and other real-time Web systems can address along with help on how this works?

Pose your suggestions by Tweeting me at or ecrop posting (ranking uses of Twitter), and I'll post here (, then we can debate the ranking of relative importance.


1. Support/sustain social change through abusive and life-threatening social climate under severe technical restrictions?

This implies some understanding of the use of hashtags, Twitter search technique and alias shortening. Search Twitter for #iranelections or #gr88 The Iranians are giving minute-by-minute lessons on its application during a revolution. But once those in power turn off local Internet and cell phone access, only the priveleged few with satellite dishes will get their message out.

2. Find/track the up-to-the-minute pulse of current thinking around the globe on a topic?

This means using "real-time" search engines. One approach is to find one or more people tweeting on the same a theme or topic from every continent or many of the world's major metropolitan/megapolis areas, but there are other real-time search engines, see Advanced Web Search. for the heading Real Time.

For example, to find those interested in digital literacy in Africa, start with a somewhat general search, seeking those tweeting (writing tweets) about education in the area of South Africa. One needs to know city locations and populations to find a likely point around which to designate a search, and one great tool is city locations. Another useful source is largest cities of the world from which one can pick diverse points and continents.

Use the Advanced Search screen to set the location parameters to a major city in the middle of a country. Start with Bloemfontein (near the center of South Africa) as the city and set distance of search to 1000 miles. Note the map that appears to share general boundaries of the search. Twitter will return a search string. Examples:

If the general search returns a large number of hits (potential sources), then take advantage of this wealth of options by focusing the search to more valuable hits, keep the rest of the advanced search page setup the same and add "digital literacy" or synonyms for it (breakaway literacy, multiliteracies, multimodal literacy, computer literacy, Net literacy, Internet literacy, technology literacy, educational technology, etc.).

If the general search returns a low number of hits, then contact one of the Twitterers that were retrieved and ask them if they know of Twitter contacts for an area of interest.

3. Serve as the "live" low cost information update component in mashup with other Web 2.0 collaborative technologies? For example, there was the the live building and constant global collaborative editing of a Wikipedia Web page during the Mumbai Terror Attacks of 2008 fed by tweets from those on location and others around the city and world.

[? Items below may be bumped by higher level items as they arrive.]

9. Does twiteracy make a great hashtag for Twitter literacy? Search for #twiteracy. Not yet.

10. What is someone doing now? [the general question posed for every Twitter entry]


Special Twitter Skills



Cole, S. (2009). 25 ways to teach with Twitter. Retrieved June 27, 2009 from

DeVoe, K. (2009). Bursts of Information: Microblogging. The Reference Librarian, 50(2), 212–214.

Grosseck, G. & Holotescue, C. (2009). Can we use Twitter for educational activities? eLearning & Software for Education: The 4th International Scientific conference, Bucharest, Romania, April 17-18, 2008.

Liu, H.; Salerno, J; & Young, M. J. (2009). Lifting elephants: Twitter and blogging in global perspective. (pp.2-7). Social Computing and Behavioral Modeling. New York: Springer. Retrieved June 22, 2009 from

Nine Reasons to Twitter in Schools. Retrieved June 27, 2009 from

Zhao, D.; & Rosson, M.B. (2009). How and why people Twitter: the role that micro-blogging plays in informal communication at work. Conference on Supporting Group Work archive. Proceedings of the ACM 2009 international conference on Supporting group work, 243-252.


Author: Houghton | Created June 22, 2009 Updated 6/28/09 8:07 pm EST.