Blog Pile

One More Twitter Love Log For the Fire

Most people who have reached the high vistas of the Twitter Life Cycle curve have at least one, if not many small stories where they got information, a contact, a resource from twitter that they would not have gotten anywhere else. Or in such a timely fashion.

So here is one more, how I long shoot tweet in the air got me technical info I needed.

The NMC web site runs in drupal (no snark today). We use the TinyMCE module to give our users, and our office staff who create a lot of the content, a visual text editor. But I have had this nibbling problem which will likely seem nothing to a drupal-ista. I have our CSS styles include classes for hyperlinks, so that adding something like class=”pdf” to an href tag will insert a small file type icon:

It is as simple as

I have a few classes for quicktime links, word docs, rss feeds, they all look something like:

But the problem was I would edit these in the drupal plain text editor, since I love seeing the HTML code, but if someone else in our office went to edit the content (like to fix one of my typos), when they went into the TinyMCE text editor and then saved their work, the damn class would be stripped from the source.

So I spend a lot of time re-editing our pages to get the damn icons back. I knew there was some place in the pile of the drupal module files to fix it, but never quite found it. So yesterday, in a total shot in the dark, I heaved a Twitter Hail Mary pass:

which is pretty damned obscure.

And then, in my email box this morning was an email from Michael Harris- who pointed out the part of the drupal.module code to add this, changing:

to read:

and it works! For the NMC staff accounts, I add a list of extra CSS classes to their TinyMCE profile:

and when they edit a hyperlink in the visual editor, they have a nice drop down of CSS classes they can apply:

So now they can link and edit away and not eat my classes!

So thanks twitter, thanks Michael Harris (I’d send you a foamee if I knew your twitter account).

This is by no means a unique story anymore, but it still thrills me to death when It Just Works.

But as a closing lesson, it is not just twitter that makes this possible. If I created a twitter account, and started tossing my questions, needs out into the wind, I’d be the tree falling in the woods with no one around. Twitter is the vehicle- it is that I have been here more than a year growing, following, and cultivating my network, that people hear the messages. So the network is crucial here, and we need to be talking more about the ways newbies can go about building their useful network. And a lot of it is just being in that network, participating, giving back.

Yes, I fall back on the Churchill quote:

I am an optimist. It does not seem too much use being anything else

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. We’re in a connected world, you twittered an abstract line of code, I saw your SOS the moment I logged into FaceBook last night and thought it would be fun to figure out!

  2. Your last point is crucial – it’s not twitter, per se (there are other tools, other ways this can happen) but the network it enables and that you’ve cultivated in it.

    Yes we need to help new users learn how to grow a network. This is one particular bugaboo I have with some twitterati demo’ing their twitter networks to newbies, asking for shoutouts, blowing the audience away with their connectedness, getting them all twitter accounts, and then leaving them scratching their heads when the network doesn’t jump up and love them back. We also do a disservice to people when we show them twitter and forget to explain “oh yeah, I’ve been cultivating my online identity for 15 years and at least half these people weren’t ‘new’ to me when we connected in twitter.”

    Can you grow a network *just* in twitter, without having been involved with blogging, without one’s institutional affiliations, other online connections and identity? Sure, though I think it would take some skills, persistence, and keen observations on how social capital and reputation is built in twitter’s particular way.

    A lot of it is common sense and common courtesy, as you say “a lot of it is just being in that network, participating, giving back.” This is my other bugaboo, though, this time with new users, some of whom just expect to be embraced instantaneously, without giving back, without even the barest nod to who they are (let alone what they’ve done). This is why, for me, expecting me to follow you on twitter but leaving the “Web” url field blank in your profile means I likely won’t. In my world at least, building conversational relationships takes time (and that’s how I use twitter – I totally realize not everyone uses it that way, which is one piece I love about it). You don’t expect to walk into a room of strangers at a party and suddenly have everyone come up and hug you, do you? No, you probably seek out a conversation here and there, try to make some individual connections and figure out connections between the people there, and gradually (maybe even over the course of a number of occasions) build up the social ties.

    I totally get that Twitter can be used not in this way, that exchanges and connections *can* happen more serendipitously, but even those chance exchanges do start to lead down the path of social ties, regardless of how transitory or flimsy they may ultimately be. /end of rant. I hope you don’t think it was directed at you personally. I hope it doesn’t come off like that. It’s just I get frustrated by what seems the endless twitter boosterism that often happens without the acknowledgement of either the larger social network ecosystem in which it exists, or the effort that goes into growing social/knowledge networks.

  3. Using your analogy………I’m no longer the tree in the woods falling with no one around. Sprouts are among my network……the forest is growing. Dense it is not yet. Network cultivation is definitely needed to build a useful professional online network.

    I first learned of Twitter at NECC 2007. In September I was looking for content for start of the school year PD and perusing David Warlick’s website. I must have found him talking about Twitter so I signed up. Then I sent out an update or two. I then realized I didn’t have anyone to talk to and I knew that I didn’t have anyone to twitter with so it fell off the radar. I didn’t yet understand how to build that network, however I can’t say I really put much thought into either. It fell off my radar.

    In March I attended our state edtech conference, MACUL, and was inspired by Steve Dembo’s session on Twitter. I logged back into my old account and decided to give it another try. It’s been a couple of months now an I am starting to learn how to build that network. I’ve slowly been adding people as I have time, after reading their own url’s so that I can understand more about them. I am also hesitant adding people unless they have a blog which quickly made me realize the importance of me starting one.

    I am still new in this social media world and absolutely see the value of it in education. As a leader, I see the importance in building the network so that I myself learn and also so that I can lead by example. I’m finding my way, reading, and learning from so many out here. I find the challenge in trying to fit in where I feel so behind.

    I am passionate about student learning and technology so I am quickly finding my way. One by one I click to add another someone new to follow. While my network grows I am enjoying getting to know everyone through their shared ideas in Twitter and their blogs. I still feel like the new kid on the block. I imagine this feeling will disappear as time goes by, and as long as I continue to participate, share, build, grow, learn, collaborate and discuss. I’m thankful for those that have added me to their twitter network or else it would be lonely. I don’t need a network of 1000. I like the slow growing one I have going right now. Most of who don’t yet know who I am. That’s okay though. I will keep learning and thinking an pondering all of the great ideas and thoughts of everyone While my forest moves from spouts to small trees, I am certain that it will become a dense forest before I know it as I participate and give back to those who have given to me.

  4. There are networks of people based on pre-existing relationships, and networks of people with a specific affinity such as Second Life for educators, Instructional Technology or Drupal. Add the tagadelic module and a Drupal site has a folksonomy in the form of a tag cloud.

    What about networks such as LinkedIn that show you questions from people you don’t know, about topics you have preselected as interesting?

    Perhaps a Twitter 2.0 or a future competitor could use contextual technology similar to the Google Ads on Web sites and Gmail that show ads relevant to what you are reading, combined with a simple artificial intelligence that remembers everything you have written or read and finds out of network twitters it knows you will find interesting. You could even give the system feedback, just like in Pandora you can give thumbs down when it plays something you don’t like.

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