Thing 2 – Microblogging

About Microblogging

Microblogging is a form of communication that allows users to publish short pieces (usually 140 characters) of content on the Internet. The content may include text and/or links to articles, pictures, videos, or other types of media. Microbloggers create profiles and post information that others may or may not “follow.”  Twitter is currently the most popular microblogging tool.

It allows users to send and read other users’ updates (otherwise known as tweets).  A user sends a tweet  to their Twitter account using the Twitter Web site, Web-enabled cell phone, or through another Web-based application. A very few countries allow tweets to be sent via SMS (short message system). The tweets are displayed on the user’s profile page and delivered to

other users who have signed up to “follow” them.

Users can receive updates via the Twitter website, SMS (text messaging), RSS, or through applications such as TwitterMobileTweet DeckFacebook, and Twidget.

Twitter has inspired other micro-blogging sites, including  Yammer (seeWikipedia’s list of other micro-blogging services), as well as many third-party applications, ultimately making the service easier to use as well as wildly more popular.

How Does Twitter Work?

Signing up for a Twitter account is free:

Twitter users can have “followers” to their post, or “follow” others’ posts.

Posts can appear on the Twitter home page for all to see, or posts can be made private, sent only to groups of friends. Twitter groups, trends and tags can be seen on

To access information relayed via Twitter, use the Twitter search engine:

There is also a “Yellow Pages” directory for Twitter:

Twitter’s Impact on Research: Searching the Live Web

While Twitter began as a tool primarily used by individuals to let others in their community know what they were doing, it has grown to be a significant communication tool for institutions, companies, journalists (including “citizen” journalists documenting local news they have witnessed), and more.  Some recent events such as the Iranian election ,  the 2010 earthquake in Haiti,  and the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan show the power of Twitter to document events that the mainstream media is unable to cover.  By searching Twitter traffic using, we can follow live breaking news stories as they happen.  At any time of the day or night Twitter is capturing news.  The news may be as  mundane as a traffic jam on a major thoroughfare, or as tragic as a tsunami in Japan, but for those affected by an event, any news may be important.

An Important Caveat:

While Twitter traffic may be useful for research, you can’t rely on the information to be authoritative or even truthful.   It’s important to evaluate the information that is posted and not rely on it without first investigating its veracity.

Learn More About It


Watch the Common Craft Videos:

Cheat Sheet and Articles to Read

Hands on Activities

1. Sign up for a personal Twitter account at Click on “Sign up now” and follow the directions.

After signing up your account, for more information about how to use Twitter, see:

2. You can protect their tweets so that only those who you approve to follow you can see what you are tweeting. This will prevent spammers from viewing your account and keep your tweets protected from those who you do not want to see your account.

  • >Go to “Settings” in the top right hand corner.
  • Under the “Account” tab scroll down to the bottom of the page and click the “Protect my tweets” box.
  • Once this is checked whenever someone tries to follow you, you will receive notification that requires you to approve their viewing of your profile.

3.  Find a friend or a news agency or other publication that you’d like to follow.

  • Type in a friend’s name, college or university, media site, or library that you would like to follow.
  • Choose who you would like to follow by clicking on the “Follow” button on the top left of your screen.
  • Now every tweet that this person or institution posts will appear in your timeline to view.

4. Search Twitter for events happening in country other than the U.S.
Go to to access Twitter Search. Type in a topic with a country’s name to see the real time tweets that people are posting about this subject. An example would be, “afghanistan NATO” or “italy earthquake” After clicking on “search” you will be shown all of the real time tweets that people are posting on this topic.

5. Report on your blog what you found.

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