[I apologize for the funky way I copied tweets into this post. Twitter refused to cough up Embed codes today]
As I explained in my first post in this series, many of my middle-ageish peers aren't on Twitter or any social media. They have merely a fuzzy idea, if any, about how Twitter works, the immediacy of its global reach and the power it can bring to bear on affecting public discourse, especially in current events and breaking news. Many who don't use Twitter see tweets only when they are shown, hours- or days-old, frequently out of context, by main stream media in an attempt to flesh out their own stories.
A primary purpose of this blog series is to show non-Tweeters why I do Twitter and why I've been a daily tweeter since 2008. Most of my reasons have to do with my passions: writing, human and robot space exploration, astronomy, science communication, multi-lingualism and Mustelidae. But there are other reasons as well, persuasive reasons that illustrate why anyone should at least give it a try.
I, too, was once one of those who scoffed: "What can you possibly say of any value in 140 characters!"
The answer is: Everything.
And if you choose your followers wisely, your tweets are seen and amplified instantly around the world.
During the July 4th weekend I went on my quadrennial Hyde Park Corner-style rant against America's ridiculously outdated presidential election system that saddles us with frantic election bread & circuses for an entire 16 months. It is one of my pet peeves about life in the US of A. It will also likely never go away. Nonetheless, once every four years I go on record as a huge proponent for a more efficient process. This July 4th, I thought that was it after I got that series of tweets out of system. Then I saw this response from Tommy Thomason (@Sillmyril) in response to my rant-ish tweets on the U.S. election system:
Tommy Thomason @Sillmyril
In addition, I participate in Twitter chats and hangouts, where a group of tweeps interested in specific topics ask and answer questions around various areas of specialization, such as #AskAnAstronuat, #AskNASA or #SciChat.
I regularly write tweet streams like the one I mentioned above, specific topics. These series of tweets are intended to educate, entertain, amplify, elaborate a position and stimulate critical thinking. Not necessarily in that order. It is particularly nice to get unexpected compliments like the one from @Syllmyril above.
This is a fabulous idea for any language learner at any level!
As a polyglot linguist myself, I use Twitter daily to train, exercise and enhance my multi-lingual skills. I tweet primarily in English, yet also converse in German (reluctantly), French, Italian and (not very well) in Spanish. I am currently learning Russian and Japanese and make it a point to follow Japanese and Russian astronauts, such as Koichi Wakata (@Astro_Wakata) and Anton Shkaplerov (@AntonAstrey). I follow other Russian and Japanese speakers as well, but at least with Koichi and Anton I have SOME idea what they are talking about. I enjoy puzzling out foreign language tweets. I have also had entire conversations on Twitter where I wrote in one language and my conversation partner wrote in another, understanding each other perfectly.
One of my Twitter milestone goals is to have followers that represent every country and every language in the world. To that end, I welcome any follow suggestions!
Notably, Twitter has a "Translate this tweet" button when it detects tweets it thinks are not in your native language. This service is run by Bing and appears to have been added more for user amusement than any kind of useful functionality. Still. Twitter has made language learning even more fun than it's always been for me.
Whatever it is that you want to learn, be it foreign languages, astronomy, fly fishing, citrus cultivation, philosophy, shepherding, the particulars of crab gut DNA, HAM radio (to name only a few of my followers' interests) - Twitter will have an expert on it. Or several dozen even, most of whom are more than happy to talk with you, if you ask and behave nicely.