this semester, i introduced my students to twitter and offered them my definitions for thin and thick tweets:
thin tweets are posts that convey one layer of information. thick tweets convey two or more, often with help from a hyperlink.
twitterers post thin tweets all the time. for example:
i'm grumpy today
oh snap, it's raining again
need more coffee
am about to leave for the post office
i luv cottage cheese
i encourage my students to use and experiment with twitter in any and all ways they see fit and this can of course include thin tweets. but when using twitter to fulfill one of my assignments, i require my students to post thick tweets.
thick tweets convey two or more layers of information. they often, but not always, include a hyperlink that takes readers from twitter to another source of information - a newspaper article, a blog post, a flickr set, a video. i encourage my students to use 140 characters or less to compose a thick tweet that is so compelling that no reader in his or her right mind can avoid clicking the link.
here's a few examples of thick tweets written by students in my digital media production and eating san francisco classes:
in this post, stephanienow gives a shout out to ESF, announces that her north beach project is ready for viewing, tempts us with recipes, informs us that she has a new blog, and supplies a link for us to visit. awesome: a thick tweet comprised of at least five layers of information.
here, smhz tells us about a trip to costa rica he took last month and encourages us to visit the pictures he recently posted. but i'd suggest a third layer. too often, twitterers tweet the present - sam suggests that past material (a past trip to costa rica) makes for a perfectly suitable present project (a flickr set). three layers of information.
in this thick tweet, teresacgarcia sends a shout out to ESF, tells us that she just viewed the film like water for chocolate, informs us that gleeson library has the film (borrow it for free!), and notifies us when it will be available for others. terrific: four layers of information.
in my final example, melstrikesback tells us that she'll be attending an academy awards gala, links to the event so that interested readers can learn more, and thanks the foghorn (USF's student newspaper, where melstrikesback works as scene editor) for the complimentary tix. three layers of information.
as i wrote above, i encourage my students to use twitter in any way they see fit. but my bias is evident. by requiring them to post thick tweets and by encouraging them to pack multiple layers of information within 140 characters or less, i'm trying to teach my students how to craft creative, meaty, and to-the-point messages that attract other people's attention.
plus, i'm politely suggesting that they may wish to think twice about tweeting their luv of cottage cheese.