Random Thoughts

RSS is about content, Twitter is about people

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I leave tomorrow for the EARCOS Teachers Conference (Twitter hash and web tag #ETC09) where I’ll be giving four presentations.

My first one is on Networks and Communities and although my Twitter Network has pointed out to me this is not a new presentation for myself…I do feel like there is something different. I’ve pushing myself to think deeper about personal networks and online communities and I need to be clear about my message and what I believe before I step into the room…or at least clear enough so that those in the room can help me push my own thinking on the subject.

Ben Grundy via Twitter helped me when we started talking about RSS vs Twitter.

RSS is about finding content, Twitter is about finding people

Not sure about that statement but it’s one I put out on Twitter and as I write this post is still being bounced around. Like others I find myself using Twitter for many different purposes including finding content…but I followed people first…not the content.

In past presentations I have focused most of my time on using RSS Feeds for both learning and teaching and less time on Twitter. Has the time come for this to be reversed? Is the “Nearly Now” taking over the reader?

More to come as I continue to think….your thoughts welcome!

I started blogging in 2005 and found it such a powerful way to reflect and share my thinking about technology, this generation, and how we prepare students for their future not our past.


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  4. Now that I’ve read your blog post, I see that our thinking is much more aligned than my Twitter response may have indicated. Twitter’s a really hard thing to characterize or classify. It simply doesn’t have enough features, by itself.

    What I’m see, through the conversation’s I’m having and the way that they are pushing my thoughts, is that there is one network. All of the information that flows through that web, comes from people. It varies in authority, quality, time of birth, format, etc. What strikes me is that as the people part becomes more important, where we are connecting more to each other and less to content products, the fibres of those connections are ideas. I connect to you, not because we look the same, speak the same language, or are in the same proximity. We connect through our ideas.

    Ooops! They just called my flight. I’ll blog this on the plane… Turbulance willing…

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  6. RSS is about finding content, Twitter is about finding people.

    This statement is rather self-defeating, don’t you think? Where does the stuff of your RSS feed come? Bots?

    As I understand it, RSS is a distribution-only platform. Twitter is also a distribution platform; however, it has been built in such a way as to allow people to engage with other people. In this sense, Twitter is a distributed communication platform that permits both content and human exchanges to take place. In this sense, it can be like RSS but with the addition of holding conversations that RSS does not permit.

    So when Warlick says Twitter doesn’t have enough features, I get confused. Studies show that Microsoft Word has more features than anyone knows what to do with. Many cellphones and printers/photocopiers also suffer from providing more features than users can readily adopt. So what features do we need that Twitter or Twitter applications do not provide?

    I use Twitter to connect to people and content. I also use it it to share and distribute people and content. My network can be your network; my content can be your content. In this sense, Twitter infinitely increases my ability to find distributed content (RSS) through the network of connections I make via the people I meet.

    What a bargain!

    So… should we now begin a discussion about how to best filter the massive amount of information we are able to receive? ; )

    • Chris,

      I agree that the filtering of the information is what is important. What I’m finding and maybe it’s just me.

      On Twitter I follow a person…that person filters the content, but it’s the person that draws me to make the connection…not the content itself.

      RSS on the other hand I do not connect to people, I connect to the content on their blog, newspaper, etc and get to know the person through that connection of content.

      I think they both lead to the same end I am just asking the question do we get there differently? There is much overlap and it’s not true for everything. I RSS my friends blog because they are my friend. And I follow Bangkok News on Twitter because I want the content….but the majority of the time I find that I will follow a person on Twitter that leads to content I want/seek. And in my reader I subscribe to content which leads to relationships with people.

      I do agree at the end of the day it’s learning to filter the information you want no matter how you start or use the network. Learning to filter is a skill that I think society needs to learn as a whole.

  7. I agree.

    In fact, even if a person was to be averse to the idea that the web really can be an organic, “people” type thing…

    …then I would move toward referring to Twitter being able the “filter” that people bring with them to the table (or the “client” as it may be).

    I find that once I have come to rely on a smart/discerning/creative/humorous/etc. person on Twitter, I can appreciate the unique “filter” of their brain when sending out the next tweet.

    It is about people. In fact, I like DW’s comment above suggesting that the web itself is more and more about people as the connections become more direct. At least I thought that’s what I was getting there before he went up, up and away…….

  8. LangLabCindy Reply

    Thanks for the post, Jeff, as I’m liking this “conversation.” The statement that RSS is about content and Twitter is about people does help me sort out how to explain the tools and their possible uses to others, which is a part of my job. There is so much overlap in tools so what to use and for what purposes can be hard to figure out until you use them for a while.

    I also find it interesting to hear how others use the tools – sometimes it jogs my thinking to consider a tool in a new way. I just stopped following the various news sources on Twitter because I found that I was skipping over them all of the time; it’s just not the way I prefer to get my news right now (but it took me a while to realize that).

    And, yes, filtering the vast amount of information that we have access to and subscribe to is a constant challenge. Wonder if that is a 21st century skill…

  9. perhaps some of the attraction of twitter is the ‘looking ove rthe shoulder’ aspect..

    too much information, use a proven filter..someone else who you ‘trust’ or can ‘know’ or has sufficient reputation to provide insights unable to be gleened any other way

    newton claimed he could see as he climbed on the shoulders of giants who preceded him…so too web2 and twitter

    the race to be first with latest is very competitive

    though the race to have something worth saying and repeating is probably greater..there is still a lot of noise..hence the need for the filter

    the robotic set and forget RSS is too coarse a filter

    the twitter feed is provided with the discerning intelligence of the followee..which will be appreciated by the follower..often regardless of the details as the flush of getting a communication from someone with reputation is frequently enough

    for me..it’s the content..i don’t twitter ..very often..follow very few
    however, close colleagues contirbute ten hours a day monitoring and feeding

    it’s all in the eye of the beholder…so long as it meets the purpose..or is fun!

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