Organizing Dialogue, Experience and Knowledge for Complex Problem-Solving

A Tweetorial with a Mission

March 27th, 2012

This is a tutorial about Twitter; a Tweetorial with a mission.

Most Tweeters share pithy thoughts that they think may be of interest, humor, insight. The best occasion to join Twitter is during a conference or event where other participants are also/already Tweeting. The trick is to find out what special identifier – called a hashtag (details below) – is being used as the code for collecting Tweets about the experience of that event. At academic and business conferences, these Tweets usually consist of a) quotes or paraphrases of what presenters are saying and b) commentary about the quotes, people and/or conditions of the venue. Tweeters who are so inclined may engage in networking or repartee – both with other people in attendance (i.e., who are “in the room”), and also with people who are not physically present but following the Tweets about the event from “outside the room.” Sometimes different perspectives are evident; often all one gets is a collage of statements. In order to make sense of these strange smatterings, one has to extrapolate relationships of the various Tweets with the theme of the event, and imagine what positions and dynamics they might represent.

Table of Contents:

  1. Why Tweet?
  2. Action Research Proposal
  3. Potentially Transformative Research
  4. The Basics

Why Tweet?

Even if you rarely contribute your own original Tweets, simply reading what people are talking about, and Re-Tweeting (command: RT) are significant contributions to a crucial conversation. The conversation is messy, but software tools are being invented to help sort through all the different discourses by collecting intersections, simultaneities, juxtapositions, rhythm and rhyme. Tidepool, for instance, is an open source tool still in the early stages of development. Tidepool’s first public use was at the 2012 #ictinferno, a Summit on Information and Communication Technology hosted by the University of Massachusetts Amherst. “Digital revolution is a game changer. #ictinferno,” tweeted @jonberndtolsen, summarizing a point by keynote presenter Douglass Trumbull.

The success of Tidepool at the #ictinferno emboldened a surprise action research engagement with the 2012 Workshop on Transformative Research hosted by the National Science Foundation. The Tidepool visualization and Tweet Archive provided just enough substance to generate an open, public conversation about what it means to do transformative research.

Action Research Proposal:

LLR-ICT2012I’m curious whether something worth pursuing might come from linking the #nsftr conversation with this week’s #bakhtin conversation. James has noticed that I seem to be considering TR (transformative research) and dialogic pedagogy (DP) as two sides of the same coin. Are they? Would putting the expertise of language/dialogue specialists into conversation with the expertise of interdisciplinary scientists generate conditions for making headway on a wicked problem or two, by “incorporat[ing] knowledge from multiple perspectives from different scientific disciplines and from the public as a way of breaking free of traditional thinking patterns“?

Potentially Transformative Research

Is there such a thing as pre-identified “potentially transformative research”? Similar to climate change/public policy scholar @danadolan, I’m eager to see the #NSFTR Workshop Report! In just a dozen comments to my critical discourse analysis of the #NSFTR Tweets, several challenging dynamics of group interaction have arisen. There’s the problem of terminology (Bubbles? “Don’t call them portals!” Ah, they are clouds.) There’s also the problem of theory. The description of Lyotard’s “phrase” and “genre” sure reminds me of Bakhtin, and Lyotard’s differend must be related to Derrida’s différance.  Meanwhile, one may want to be alert for diatribes: are they tangents steering engagement away from a certain kind of social/interactional dynamic, or representations of dynamics being enacted, somehow, by participants and witnesses to the conversation? (And when topics are flagged as such, what then? Not to mention spontaneous outbursts of songwriting!) You’ve also got to consider the practical applications: is there any product to be made with theoretical ideas or are they pie-in-the-sky? And what about deviations from the original objectives? How constraining is the allowance for development?

The Basics:

For the Mini-Bakhtin Conference on Education: Promises and Challenges of Dialogic Pedagogy, we are hoping to inspire some new and experienced Tweeters to Tweet using the special identifier (known as a hashtag) #Bakhtin – case, btw, does not matter, but the # symbol does! The # symbol in front of a word or acronym constitutes a hashtag. If you do not have a Twitter account, please consider signing up and Tweeting during the conference, even if you never use it again!

Some tips:

  • Most professional people use their full/real names, or a recognizable variation. I played around with mine (@stephjoke) to poke a bit of fun at myself. James played it straight up, @jamescumming.
  • You can “follow” us (search for our usernames in the search box on the Twitter homepage, make sure you keep the @ symbol! That turns the nickname into an address). All Tweets by whoever you follow will appear in your Twitter account, including Tweets without the hashtag #bakhtin.
  • Even if you decide not to sign up for a Twitter account, you can google the hashtag, #BAKHTIN, and see what (if anything) is being Tweeted.
  • (I came across a few Tweets last week including #Bakhtin hashtag by Tweeters who were quoting or otherwise referencing our hero). These outsiders probably don’t care about this conference, but you never know!
  • At the conference, Steph will be available to provide Twitter assistance and support.
  • We will be collecting Tweets in two ways: an archive at and with the “visualizer” called Tidepool. The Tidepool visualization of Tweets will be displayed during the conference:

For additional information, please see Understanding Twitter: Why Twitter is Less Like Facebook and More Like Email – Learn about what Twitter is, how it works, and how to use it to interact with others. Are you trying to fit Twitter into a Facebook mold? If so, you might be missing out!

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Categories: Call this ACTION LEARNING!, Reflexivity, Series, Tidepool

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