Wednesday, 22 December 2010

5 reasons for using Twitter (and 1 why you shouldn't use it)

The theme of the week seems to be twitter. I have during the last week discussed twitter with a number of people, explaining why I find it so useful. Then the latest #lrnchat session was about twitter and lastly I read the fourth chapter in the great book "New Social Learning" about microsharing.

When I finally got to sit down and reflect a bit I decided to write a post on this theme. This has been done thousands of times before, but never by me. I try to sharpen my arguments for using twitter as I am trying hard to get me colleagues to start using it. So here is my list:

1. Personal Learning Network
Ok so I have been on Twitter now for almost three months (time moves fast in the Twitter world. I thought it was just a few weeks but as usual time flies when you have fun). In that time I have managed to get myself a Personal Learning Network, something I didn't really have before. I was learning from my colleagues and that can be very useful, but at the same time it limits the scope of what you learn. In most cases you only learn things that refines what you already do. To say it a different way; You only learn what you know that you don't know.
 In order to really learn new things, and get new ground breaking ideas you need to get input from outside your realm.In other words; You learn things you don't know that you don't know. And this I have for sure got by using Twitter.

In my three months I have built up a network that today consist of around 80 people from all around the globe. When you live in a small country like I do, building a network of 80 people who specialises in work place learning is probably almost impossible, but by using Twitter I have managed to do so in just three months time. But what's the point with having such a network?

As I said before it's all about getting new ideas, challenges and arguments for and against these new ideas and challenges. To learn from those that has knowledge in things you didn't even knew existed. When I have a question about something in the field of Learning at work I am always finding good answers within my network.

To all of you that are included in my Personal Learning Network, I would like to express my deepest admiration for the way you share your knowledge to me and others. And to those who are not part of my Network yet. Don't hesitate, follow me today (@mattiaskareld) and I will follow you back.

2. Having fun
It's not all about Learning when I use twitter, it's also a lot of fun. For example I follow my personal hero Homer Simpson who always makes me smile with posts such as
"Ways I’d like to die: drowned in nacho cheese sauce, or shot by a bullet made of frozen beer."
I also follow a Swedish comedian named Henrik Schyffert, who is one of the smartest comedians around. I have followed his career since I was in my teens and now I get to follow him on a day to day basis which is so great.

Besides these true comedians a lot of the people I follow shows me a great time by tweeting fun tweets, links, pictures and more. And in my opinion, the learning experience grows when it is in a fun environment.
Another reason why Twitter is fun to use is in a more ego-centric way. When you tweet something that other people find enough interesting to re-tweet it is a small but important ego-boost. And when you tweet something that other people respond to it often creates fun and engaging discussions.

3. Serendipity
As I am a curious person by nature Twitter is a goldmine for me.It's all about learning things you had no idea even existed. And this is probably the most interesting part with Twitter. For example I wouldn't know so much about the danger the tigers are in if it hadn't been for @sumeet_moghe. That is just one example of the things I have learned out of pure serendipity.

4. Keep myself updated
This is probably the most obvious thing. By using Twitter I can be constantly updated on what going on in the field of my interest. Seconds after my favorite band Social Distortion had posted their latest song on Internet I got the message and could go in and enjoy. Another example is when the suicide bombing in Stockholm occurred. I got instant information via Twitter instead of having to wait for the newspapers to update their web pages.

5. Direct  contact
Getting in direct contact with interesting people all around the world is actually quite amazing. When I read a book now I always check if the author is on Twitter because if I have a question it's nice to know that they are just a tweet away. If someone had said half a year ago that I would be able to discuss with great people like @janebozarth, @C4LPT, @tonykarrer ,@shiftguru, @learninganorak and many many more I would have considered them quite crazy. But now I have realized the power of Twitter. So thanks to all of you for making it possible to have all these interesting discussions and I look forward to even more interesting discussions in the future.

And then it is time for the reason why you shouldn't use Twitter:

1. Addiction
I am pretty sure that in the near future we will read that Dr. Drew has started a Twitter-rehab-clinic for celebrities that is hooked on the dangerous drug Twitter. And it won't take long before the newspapers start warning parents that their kids are turning into Twitter junkies if they don't watch out (good thing that not too many kids are actually using Twitter). Because it is really easy to get caught up in the Twitter stream and forget about time. It has happened more than once that I have realised that I should have gone to bed hours ago, instead I have been deeply engaged in some interesting discussion. So if you are the kind of person who easily gets caught up in things and starts to misuse them: Stay away from Twitter, it might ruin your life. But if you dare to take the risk you can look forward to a fantastic journey.


  1. Nice! Unlike you, I am not lucky enough to have peers within my physical reach, so have been delighted these past years to find so many good PLN compadres on Twitter. There's a Twitter-based book discussion going on now (see )on John Seely Brown et al's "Power of Pull", in which there's a lot of discussion of the serendipity you mention.

    Thanks for the mention,

  2. Hi Jane,
    Thanks for the comment. Yes I am quite lucky working for a company that has so many people engaged in the learning field.

    I wanted to join in on the book discussion but I haven't received the book yet. Probably because of the Christmas rush. Maybe I will be able to join in later on in the discussion.

    You are more than welcome
    Merry Christmas,

  3. Hi Mattias:

    Many thanks for the mention. I'm relatively new to twitter myself, so I also credit people like Jane Bozarth, Jane Hart, and Harold Jarche for being such strong social media inspirations.

    My best wishes to you and yours for the holidays.

  4. Hi Mattias

    Since learninganorak is my alter ego, I'm blown away that you should put me in the company of some of the great names of the learning business.

    My Twitter usage got off to a very shaky start and I even abandoned it at one point. But then someone mentioned having found a certain fantastic resource via Twitter, and thought I'd give it a second go. I'm glad I did. It has put me in touch with all manner of people from all over the world...including you!

  5. Hi Karyn,

    You shouldn't be so modest :-) I don't care so much about who are considered the biggest names. I am more interested in who can contribute to my learning experience. And that you have, that's why you were mentioned.

    Thanks for the comment, and hope you had a perfect Christmas eve and that you will have a perfect Christmas day.


  6. Hi Mr elearningguy,

    Thanks for the comments and the best holiday to you too.


  7. Hi
    Wrote a "short" reply but it turned into a reply blog!
    Thanks for inciting thinking!
    Colleen aka @iristopaz