Twitter, Storify, and taking notes in the 21st Century

I’m enjoying the 10th North American Paleontological Convention, being held right now in Gainesville, Florida. Earlier today, I presented a poster talking about how Twitter and blogging could be used for educational outreach. Specifically, I talked about its use to accurately portray what the field experience is like for paleontologists.

I’m a big fan of Twitter. I tweet constantly. It’s a bit invasive, really. How often in a day do I think, ‘That would make a good tweet.’ Nevertheless, I feel like my use of Twitter is not detrimental to my day-to-day life.

Despite its addictive qualities, I continue to use Twitter because it can be a great way to connect with interested but not science-literate folks. I now use it in my teaching as a favored means to communicate with my students.

Throughout the meeting, I’ve been engaging in ‘live-tweeting’ the talks that I’m listening to. This means that I’m essentially sharing’sound bites’ – interesting facts or funny statements – told by the speaker to all of my followers. I’m also using the hashtag associated with the meeting, #NAPC2014, so that people who aren’t my followers can still find relevant tweets and read about what’s happening in the meeting.

The downside is that I’m so busy tweeting that I’m not actually taking notes. But then, when you think of it, I am taking notes. I tweet only the things from talks that resonate with me, that seem interesting and important enough to write down and share. I’m only doing it electronically and openly.

My tweets are my notes.

But how can I then keep my notes so that I don’t lose them? Tweets tend to disappear from easy viewing within a week. They don’t get deleted, but you can’t always use the regular search mechanisms to find your own old tweets. And tweets on a hashtag can be even harder to find.

To do this, is an app called Storify. Storify allows you to compile, organize, and annotate tweets. You save these compilations and can publish them for general viewing later. I have been Storifying my own tweets each evening while at the meeting so that I can find them in the weeks and months ahead. Since the meeting’s not over yet, I haven’t yet published my note-tweets, but I will.

I did keep notes in this way for last fall’s Society of Vertebrate Paleontology annual meeting and it worked out pretty well.

I have used Storify for other things, such as demonstrating how a exam review session can be held on-line using Twitter.

Either of the above cases illustrates how Twitter can be used for taking notes and for teaching, and then how Storify can be used to compile those tweets for later use.

I’ll be pretty busy in a couple of days when I get home, attempting to Storify the proceedings of the entire NAPC meeting. It’s a daunting task when there have been more than 1000 related tweets per day associated with the #NAPC2014 hashtag.

But I’ll do it. I hope.


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