Description: University of Michigan-Flint assistant professor of English Dr. James Schirmer talks about using twitter in a college classroom and how twitter impacts the way we watch sports.
Transcript: Initially, it's a four-week assignment where students, I ask them to engage with each other and to communicate with each other and see if we can actually get any kind of worthwhile conversation happening in that tiny constrained space. Because we only have 140 characters to work with, so, it's always interesting to me to see what kinds of conversations students can get into, what kinds of conversations that I can have with them in this very kind of tiny space... I think a lot of them do get a good amount of, I think there are a variety of benefits that come with it. One thing I've noticed, just because I teach a lot of writing courses, is that they do, students tend to become more concise in their writing. They're a little bit clearer, they have a better awareness of who they're talking to, why they're talking to them, what they're trying to talk to them about. And, just on a day-to-day level, if students have any questions, I'm, there's a greater accessibility with them and with me, that they, they feel comfortable talking with me, they feel comfortable talking with each other. So, there's an element of transferability there, that they have this, some degree of comfort communicating with each other in this very specific way, specific medium, but that tends to translate to the class... just a little slice of information, and I think that part of it deals with, too, is that the creators designed it so that it would work better with cellphones and with texting, because that's one of, I think, one of the primary odes of communication, just these very short little bits of information, but then things can kind of explode out of that. And how I use it in an academic context is that I've had quite a few opportunities, publishing opportunities, come up that way, just because of starting conversations and finding out, okay, we both follow this person, so maybe I should pay attention to what they're doing. And this is actually something I advocate for our, some of our graduate students in the MA program, is that if they're interested in things like digital rhetoric, social media, video game studies, that where a lot of the interesting conversations are happening, they are on blogs, but the more day to day, just distribution systems, news items, that where it's happening, it's happening on Twitter... There's always that potential for engagement, like if you're on there, there's always that chance that someone's going to respond to you and, depending upon what you, how you decide to use it, whether you're more social and, you know, say what'd you have for breakfast every morning as, which is is one of the criticisms of it, it's been going, how you use it, you will, you will get followers based on how you use it. A community will develop, based on how you use it, whether you're, you know, a fan of the Detroit Tigers, you'll get maybe, you'll get ten to fifteen people to follow you, just based on that, because, you know, you, you made a couple offhand comments about, you know, a play last night or you engage somebody in a more academic context and talking about video game studies so you will either get attention or, you know, get follows, based on that... You know not everybody is using Twitter, or any other kind of social media for that matter, for, you know, honest and true purposes, that there are some nefarious endeavors trying to break through that, even through Twitter... I'm a big fan of the Detroit Tigers and so I follow Dan Dickerson, Mario Impemba, Rod Allen. I even follow some of the players: Will Rhymes, Casper Wells is on there, Robbie Weinhardt is pitching for Toledo now, he's on there. But, yeah, usually one of the windows that I will have open any time a Tigers game is on is I'll have the Tigers hashtag in a search bar and just see what, what other people are saying about the game, and sometimes I'll say stuff, but sometimes it's usually, it's almost like a secondary spectator sport, just to see what everybody else is saying about it... It's kind of similar to, um, I think it's kind of similar actually to sitting in a bar, you know? And, just, everybody isn't using, is in this one place for this particular purpose and so they're a bit so that you'll hear bits of different conversations going on, but they're all be about the same thing.