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With a recent revamping of our Spatial Interest Group Website we decided to take a look at social networking tools and how we might employ them for a greater visibility for the site and a more dynamic content. It caused me to revisit Twitter, to explore the possibility to set up a group account (for restricted membership not without a third party paid service) and to set up my personal digital environment that would allow to shorten URLs, manage accounts, and send Tweets from everywhere I was going, physically and virtually. It also pulled me into the academic network of Twitter users.

I have blogged about Twitter before, because I have been curious about the academic value of social networking tools, and how it ties into faculty work. While in my opinion there is still too much ‘noise’ in the information that’s being put out there, it is interesting to see its adoption by members of academic institutions, who engage in exchanges with their colleagues. According to this study of 1400 college faculty members, participation on Twitter is up from 30.7 in 2009 to 35.2% in 2010. 72.2% of this user group use Twitter to share information with peers and 70.4% use it as a real-time news source. My guess, based on the number of tweets from the network I entered, would be that most, if not all of the contributors have tweeted for less then a year, probably even only a few months.

What is most compelling for me is that some of my faculty have begun to take up tweeting as routine activity (@juemos, @SimonJackman), which has become a great source of information, quite relevant for my work as ATS. What better way to know what your faculty are up to?

Curiously, only a third of the respondents used Twitter in a course “sometimes,” “occasionally,” or “frequently.” Suspected cause: the students. Stanford students are not on Twitter.

If you are interested in the work of the ATS group beyond this blog, you can follow the Stanford ATSs @mljockers @cncoleman, and @ceng_l, or our interest group @stanfordspatial.

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