I wrote my first Friday Find in May, 2009. It was an attempt to make my finds on Twitter more explicit, as I noticed I was sharing and viewing a lot of information but not doing anything with it. My current practice is to summarize what I have found on various social media platforms (Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, private channels) and create a blog post every two weeks.
With Twitter, I use the ‘favourite’ function (star) [Twitter has now changed this to a heart] to mark any tweets I wish to review for later. Some of these are saved for later reading, others get reviewed fortnightly. On review, some make the cut for the Friday’s Finds post, though these are the minority. Any I wish to keep for later are added to my social bookmarks and categorized for easier search and retrieval.
I use the Twitter fave function in a very deliberate manner. A recent research report, More than Liking and Bookmarking? Towards understanding Twitter Favouriting Behaviour (PDF) shows that this is not common behaviour. Of 606 survey respondents, only 395 knew of the Twitter favourite function and 290 made use of it. The researchers found 25 motivations for favouriting among the 48% of respondents who used it. They then grouped these into two major categories: Response and Purpose.
Using the favourite function for a purpose is one of the behaviours I promote with personal knowledge mastery. It is about being explicit in our sense-making and knowledge-sharing. Bookmarking is one key method.
“Along with [Liking], the bookmarking category was the most dominant reason recorded, used 75 times. Bookmarking is the second official use case for favouriting, according to Twitter (Twitter 2013). After favouriting a tweet, the tweet is kept in the user’s public favourites list, which can be reviewed from their profile. Consequently the concept of future use was well represented in the bookmarking category. Within this concept, we can differentiate between sub-codes in their concreteness of the action to come: “later”, “use later” or “again” . The common activities mentioned in these reasons were to read, to show, to view, to search or to re-find: “I want to read them again”, “I use the favourite feature like a bookmark feature; tweets i like so i can see them again later.” or “I want to find it again easily”, and “[…]I generally favourite things that I think I will want to re-find again in the future. This is extremely difficult to do using the Twitter search system.” [This respondent] highlights that re-finding is a common need users have with tweets. Further, it illuminates concerns that re-finding is perhaps poorly supported by the Twitter search feature. While some reasons were vague about their intended reuse, some also explicitly stated for which activity the favourited tweet will be used: “I am a foodie and a fitness fanatic! i favourite workout routines or recipes to try later. also, motivational pics and sayings to inspire me when i need it” and “So i can use it when i work out”. – page 6
The reason I created Friday’s Finds was 1) due to the poor search functionality in Twitter at the time, 2) as a reflective thinking process, and 3) to put it on a platform I could control, my blog. It is obvious many others have similar issues with retrieving information from social media platforms like Twitter. What do you do? Do you have a method? If you are using social media for any professional purposes at all, it would make sense to develop a method to learn from what you do.
With all these social media platforms, we seem to constantly go through a process of looking at bits of information and trying to make sense of them. We can learn by adding these to our existing knowledge or testing out new patterns in our sense-making efforts. Social media give us more ways to connect with others in our learning but many people only see the information overload aspect of them. Effective learning is the difference between surfing the waves or being drowned by them.
Liking and bookmarking are lower order learning skills but they can form the foundation for higher order elaborative learning skills. Elaborative learning relies on observing, studying, challenging, and evaluating what we see and experience. Synthesizing information can be combined with drawing inferences, forming tentative opinions, and challenging arguments. Critical thinking – the questioning of underlying assumptions, including our own – is becoming all-important as we have to make our own way in the network era. Critical thinking can be looked at as four main activities:
- Observing and studying our fields
- Participating in professional communities
- Building tentative opinions
- Challenging and evaluating ideas
Twitter can be one small part of this. It is also an easy place to begin. Go ahead and tweet this post, favourite it, and then come back and review your favourites in two weeks.