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Twitter Activity Stream - 15% - 150 points

Everyone enrolled in ENGL328 this semester will participate in a distributed (which is to say "semester-long") writing assignment involving Twitter. Twitter is by now well known as a networked writing platform designed for users to post 140-character tweets, follow other Twitter users ("follow," as in, read their tweets, reply, etc.), and thoughtfully chronicle a gamut from everyday encounters, observations, insights, reading notes, online discoveries, and mundane life-annotations. Twitter users have adapted the platform for experiments in creative writing (e.g., tweeted novels, short fiction, and poetry), marketing and public relations (e.g., brand-building), and more. Twitter is dismissed by some as mere chatter because its speed and immediacy opens it to a lot of trivial and casually-produced utterances. But it is also consequential in the sense that it generates a real-time web made of written interchanges among affinity networks established according to interests, friendships, and a variety of other ties.


To get started, you will need a free Twitter account. You can sign up for one by following the instructions at Twitter.com. Select "Sign Up Now." Once you have established your Twitter account, you can try it out simply by writing something into the input box labeled, "What are you doing?"

What are you doing? The question extends a number of scenes: our course of study, other courses you are taking, campus experiences, curiosities and interests elsewhere, events and activities, and so on. You are welcome to write entries in your activity stream that match with any of these areas. Occasionally, tweets will be prompted (i.e, set up) in class or in relationship to assigned readings. But you will compose several tweets on your own terms. As you do so, you should continually think about the convergence of style and technology in these writing practices. What is style in the context of Twitter? How does one establish stylistic knowledge in this context? As an aspect of working with Twitter this semester, you will reflect on the convergence of style and technology later in the semester.

Twitter in Plain English

Twitter Activity Stream - Guidelines and Evaluation

Your activity stream will be evaluated at face value according to the following scale:

C+ 32-35
B 44-47
F <11
D 12-23
C 28-31
B 40-43
A >52
C- 24-27
B- 36-39
A- 48-51

In addition to the activity stream itself (120 points, or 12%), you will write a 600-word reflective statement (30 points, or 3%), that accounts for how you used Twitter this semester and how your uses of Twitter enriched your understanding of the interplay between technology and style. The reflective statement is due at the beginning of class on Wed., December 2, and the activity stream will be evaluated at that time.

Twitter Shorthand - A Brief Guide for Coding Entries
@ - Use the AT symbol to refer to another Twitter user. Oftentimes, @username is used to establish conversation, to post a public reply to another user.
D - Adding 'D' to the beginning of a message creates a direct message. "D @username" sends a direct message (i.e., a private message) to an individual user.
RT - RT, or retweet, is a short form citation. Use it when you are re-posting a tweet from another user's activity stream.
# - #, or hashtag, allows you to tag an entry and thereby channel it into likely search clusters. #emu, for example, would make an entry more likely to be discovered by people who watch all "#emu" entries for tweets related to Eastern Michigan University.

This work is more or less self-paced, meaning you should plan to post as many as five entries per week. The spirit of the assignment is to introduce you to a distributed, networked writing platform, and this cannot be accomplished in large bursts of writing (e.g., posting 20 updates in an hour three times this semester). If it becomes necessary, we may adjust the schedule so that smaller installments of entries are due intermittently throughout the weeks and months ahead.

A Cautionary Note About Sp@m
Depending upon the settings you choose for your Twitter account, you may receive follow requests from sp@mmers who want to follow you. That is, it is fairly common in Twitter to have an unknown user follow you, and in return, for you to feel like you should follow that person. Watch for requests from newer users who are following a large number of people but who do not have many followers themselves. Also, watch for users whose activity stream contains a lot of links to products and services. Oftentimes such users are marketing bots or others trying to generate a large following on the site.

Where Can I Find More General Twitter Activity?
You can click around at Twitter.com, of course, but you should also spend a few minutes getting to know sites like Twitterfall.com and Tweetscan.com. You might find guides like this one helpful as you get started. If you are interested in photography, you might want to check out Twitpic.com. TweetDeck and Twhirl are a couple of desktop clients for exploring Twitter. And if you find something to add here, please mention it, so we can add it here for everyone to check out.

Instructions for Wednesday, September 16
1. Visit twitter.com and sign up for an account.
2. Search for user "emuTechStyle." Follow emuTechStyle.
3. After a few minutes, user emuTechStyle will follow you in return. Use emuTechStyle is actually a "group tweet" alias, which means we can use it to broadcast messages to everyone in the class (by placing a 'D' before a tweet, it will send a direct message). You do not need to send every tweet to emuTechStyle.
4. Post your first update to your Twitter account. In the "What Are You Doing?" input box, enter a tweet that somehow expresses your preliminary ideas for Project I, e.g., "For our first project, I am thinking about making 'The Oprah Winfrey Elements of Style.'"
5. Before you leave class, write your Twitter alias (username) on the sign-in sheet circulated in class.
Note1: You can reach everyone in class with a direct message simply by sending a tweet that looks like "D @emuTechStyle message."

How Do I Follow Classmates' Activity Streams?
1. Log in to Twitter.com.
2. Go the emuTechStyle profile.
3. View the list of users who follow that account. Select "follow."
4. That's it: Their entries from people you follow will show up when you look at your own Twitter.com page.

Or, you can check select individual users listed below, visit their respective pages, and click on "follow."

2 p.m. Section Twitter Account Initial Idea for Project One
Anne ambook The Calvin and Hobbes Elements of Style
David dboeving The Clockwork Orange Elements of Style
Donna deemuhree The Weeds Elements of Style
Elena elenaeng328 The Ron Burgundy Elements of Style
Eric etenza The Karl Marx Elements of Style
Jackie jrose0820 The Twilight Elements of Style
Karla karlamariam The Buffy the Vampire Slayer Elements of Style
Katelyn katielynrose The XKCD Elements of Style
Krista kgjestland The Edward Cullen Elements of Style
LaSonja cutestsmile87 The Sister Souljah Elements of Style
Mark tcrmark The Glenn Beck Inconvenient Elements of Style
Matt mmangan02 The Austin Powers Elements of Style
Nick njengl The Rush Elements of Style
Rachel rvergun The Matthew Reilly Elements of Style
Rina rcengl The Huck Finn Elements of Style
Sean anoddhue The Achewood Elements of Style
Valerie yourpalval86 The Harry Potter Elements of Style
Varina rinabinalina The Wicked Elements of Style
Virginia melkrisnik The Huck Finn Elements of Style

5 p.m. Section Twitter Account Initial Idea for Project One
Adam adamsegs The Michael Scott Elements of Style
Brandi favcolorpurple The Jeopardy Elements of Style
Carl dorkman3092 The Rush Elements of Style
Charlotte dancewmoonlight The Gilmore Girls Elements of Style
Chris G. enishi900 The Stephen King Elements of Style
Chris S. 28sweetstreet The Joker Elements of Style
Christopher R. roman0471 The Hunter S. Thompson Elements of Style
Dana wolf_lover_101 The <hockey-related> Elements of Style
Danae duhnae19 The Britney Spears Elements of Style
Danielle motlehh The American Beauty Elements of Style
Jack theapostletau5 The Rod Serling Elements of Style
Jalissa lissag89 The Michael Jackson Elements of Style
Jerime cranium187 ---
Julia jhenry42 The Price Is Right Elements of Style
Justin theotherjtury The Joe Strummer Elements of Style
Kaia kab7 The Dr. Horrible Elements of Style
Krista kbohnlein The LOLCats Elements of Style
Kyle kkordell The Lord of the Styles (Lord of the Rings)
Nick kshamrock20 The Seinfeld Elements of Style
Steve stevekubacki The Henry Miller Elements of Style

Contact Information

Derek N. Mueller, PhD
Office: 612M Pray-Harrold
Fall '09 office hours: MW, 9-11:30 a.m. and by appointment
Phone: (315) 708-3940 (cell)


"A few years ago, when I was grading papers for a graduate literature course, I became alarmed at the inability of my students to write a clean English sentence." -Stanley Fish, "What Should Colleges Teach?"

"We concentrate on utility at the expense of joie de vivre. And we then wonder, as de Tocqueville prophesied we would, why life has lost its savor" (19). -Richard Lanham, Style: An Anti-textbook

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