Posted by: tpierson | April 10, 2010

Twitter Postings: Petroglyphs of the 21st Century

So what do petroglyphs have to do with twitter posts?

Our spring break this early April was amazing.  Normally, in Minnesota, spring break means late winter slush with melting snow and muddy trails.  But this year was  showing, spring was definitely in the air.

I decided I needed a prairie fix.  I’m attracted to the broad expanses of prairie in southwestern Minnesota–and even more to the wind turbines towering over the ridges along highway 169 leading to the Jeffers Petroglyphs.

Native petroglyphs have always fascinated me.  I’m amazed that these markings have endured thousands of years and are still telling their story today–at least to some.  As I stood on the windy granite outcropping viewing these messages from the past, I struggled to really see what the anthropologist’s signs indicated was right in front of me.  And my mind drifted to twitter feeds….

What?  Yep, I had been dabbling with twitter for several weeks and struggling to interpret what felt like cryptic messages from teachers I’d been following.  I began to wonder, “Would someone in the future, recovering my computer hard drive from some landfill, stumble on twitter and be equally baffled by these messages from the 21st century?”

The anthropologist of the future would likely have no trouble interpreting twitter postings–but what of the layman of that time?  Would they struggle, just as I was struggling with these pretroglyphs, to really understand what was being communicated with tweets.

I trust with practice, I’ll be able to better use twitter and it will become one of the communication tools that I use to cultivate my personal learning network.  But for now, for me, twitter posts often make as much sense as petroglyphs.

I continue to read and explore how Twitter can benefit teachers.  I recently stumbled upon (through a blog, not a tweet!)  an initiative to gather a listing of teachers using twitter.   Check it out at: http://delicous/tag/twitterteacher

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Responses

  1. Twitter is a new language. It does take time. For me, the value of Twitter is links. I’ve just had 20 tabs open in Firefox from clicking on interesting links in Twitter. (I sent you one, might be good, might not. I’ll RT it to you Twitter too!) The other value is links to blog posts for deeper reading.

    Your spring break trip sounds great. I love the drive done 169. I usually don’t get farther than St. Peter (Gustavus) or Mankato. Where is Jeffers? I’m thinking a motorcycle ride down there would be nice!

  2. Nice post, Todd. I share your addiction to the space of the prairie. I, too, periodically need to just go for a ‘South Dakota drive’ (my wife, a So. Mpls native, teases me that if I don’t do it often enough, I start to make wrong turns and keep wandering more than usual.) And, yes, the markings that are on the prairie, all kinds of them, some there much longer than others, are not immediately obvious.
    When I hear people who’ve driven I-90 from Chicago to the Black Hills or beyond say – “so, you’re from that interminable stretch where there’s nothing to see but telephone poles,’ I say, as kindly as possible, usually, ‘you’re being remarkably candid about revealing the shortcomings of your perception.’ I try to explain that there’s more diversity of creation on the prairie than in any forest anywhere, and they look at me as if I’m trying to sell them snake oil to cure cancer.

    My favorite prairie comment is from those who actually notice the wind. Especially articulate and perceptive East Coasters might actually notice that the wind never really stops on the prairie – “And that’s scary,” one woman said to me. It’s not so unusual for someone to notice that, indeed, 360 degrees of horizon is frequently visible, or that, yes, you can see farther in more directions than even in the middle of the ocean.

    Some people never seem to be able to ‘get’ the deep beauty of the prairie. I also think there are some who’ve lived long lives there who’ve been on some level terrified of it for their whole lives, but I think that’s true of some mountain dwellers, too.

    I don’t think social or cognitive scientists have yet created ‘typical’ time frames for understanding the prairie or social media. I’m not sure how you get to ‘grade level’ with Twitter. But then, being at grade level with the prairie is not something I’ve ever bothered about for long, either.

    I’m glad you linked me to your post with Twitter, though. Thanks !


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