At the latest education beat meeting for the Missourian staff, my editor pitched a story about “Campus Tweet.”
My first thought: What is she talking about?
After doing my homework, I’ve learned that Campus Tweet is essentially a Twitter directory of college students and alumni. For those of you living under a rock, Twitter is a social networking and micro-blogging Web site that allows users to send and read “tweets” — small text blurbs of 140 characters that can be seen by virtually anyone, whether your profile is private or not.
You may be wondering why Campus Tweet is relevant to your life. Here’s your answer: As of today, MU is the No. 1 college or university using Campus Tweet with 216 students and alumni subscribed under the name. Yes, 216 people is roughly less than one percent of the entire student population at MU, but there is significance there nonetheless.
I’ll admit that I was hesitant to use Twitter at first and probably wouldn’t have joined if it weren’t required for a class I’m taking. However, consider the value in Campus Tweet and Twitter as a whole.
First, Twitter allows for fast delivery of information. Unlike a decade ago when we were spoon-fed news through outdated media, Twitter and the Web in general allow us to pick and choose the news we deem relevant to our lives. The same can be said for Facebook — friends update their statuses or post links based on what interests them, and you can choose to filter through that information as you wish.
Because you have so much information at your fingertips, think of the possibilities with Campus Tweet. While researching for this post, I stumbled upon an article by the Wall Street Journal titled “Entrepreneurs ‘Tweet’ Their Way Through Crises.” The story goes on to describe how various companies tweet in order to inform their customers about a business crisis. For example, “when an ice storm struck the Bartlesville, Okla., area last winter, United Linen & Uniform Services notified customers about the status of their orders through Twitter in addition to its Web site,” the article stated.
Now, imagine an emergency situation arises on MU’s campus, such as what happened at Virginia Tech or Northern Illinois University. In addition to the university’s mass notification system, Campus Tweet (and Twitter in general) could be a useful tool in alerting those on campus to the scene unfolding. It may seem far-fetched to believe that if a gunman is taking hostages students will be tweeting instead of protecting themselves. However, those who have already escaped to safety or were eyewitnesses to the incident will be contacting loved ones to update them. The point is that information spreads fast, and increasingly that means via technology, not just by word of mouth.
Of course this is a hypothetical and extreme case where Campus Tweet would be beneficial, but it gets the wheels turning. Twitter and Campus Tweet are contributing to the transformation of news-gathering and sharing, and college students and online users would be wise to check into the growing trend.