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I was intrigued earlier this week to find that when asked to report back on a few things that were going on – that the response was an expression of concern by a couple of people that they hadn’t heard about some of these things. As I recall it was the information that http://data.open.ac.uk had released course materials as linked data. That information came out via twitter from various people associated with the Lucero project late on Friday. Just as the Open Bibliographic Data JISC website came out in the same way (via tweets from people, often Re-tweeted) late last week.
I must admit to being surprised at the reaction, and thinking about it there was a subtext of why isn’t this information being released properly, through proper channels. But the more I think about it, and think about how I use twitter, which is particularly to find out what is going on in universities, and university libraries and JISC and the general HE domain, then it’s increasingly the way that I find out about what is going on. People I follow tweet links to new things they think will be interesting often because it interested them, or tweet what they are working on or have done. Twitter gives me that information much more so than emails or mailing lists these days, and I don’t use facebook (which I guess I’ve pigeon-holed as being personal rather than professional), and although I’m on LinkedIn that’s more ‘professional’ than informational.
But as these types of activities move to micro-blogging there are people who are put off twitter because of the ‘what I had for lunch’ tweets (and worse). But I’ve always thought that to be a strange approach – like saying that I’m not going to watch TV ever because ITV broadcasts ‘X Factor’, or never use a phone because people use it to talk about trivial things. Twitter is a communications tool used by humans – so all human life is there – just as there is everywhere else. If it works for you fine, if not that’s also fine – but if you want to know what’s happening now and is important to people who are doing interesting things, then it’s a very useful tool