“I don’t Twitter, I don’t MyFace, I don’t YearBook.” — Bill Belichick, Coach of the New England Patriots

twitter-logo-125There are two kinds of people in this world: people who love Twitter and people who love to hate Twitter; there seems to be very little room in between.

Unlike the coach of my favorite NFL team, I fall into the first category; although at first I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. Being confused and uncertain is a common experience among first time Twitter users.

I first signed up for Twitter six years ago — on November 19, 2008 — in the computer lab of the DeVry University in Bakersfield, California (where I had been teaching classes earlier that day). I quickly found it suited my stream of consciousness style of thinking and need for newly acquired knowledge.

I have since found Twitter to be a transformational and transactional social media tool. I’ve used it to network personally and professionally, curate content for courses I’ve created and/or taught, and even credit Twitter for helping me get a teaching position with UCLA Extension.

Since first tackling Twitter I have expanded to the four accounts below, though at this point I primarily use @MatthewAGilbert.

My most unique Twitter experience involved Matthew Gilbert — not me, but the the TV critic for the Boston Globe. One day while teaching a class at UC Santa Barbara I received an email from him. He asked that since I had control over, but was not using @MatthewGilbert, would I be so kind as to let him use it.

I actually knew of him and over time had been confused for him. One particularly entertaining moment of confused identity was when I was recording my appearance on the short-lived CBS game show “Winning Lines.”

The producers were running scared because, since I was born in Boston and we had the same name, they assumed I was the “other” Matthew Gilbert and that I had somehow infiltrated the show to “scoop” it before it aired!

In any case, I only briefly thought about his request and then decided to let him use the Twitter account; how could I deny my namesake? Besides, in an effort to personally brand myself, I always use my middle initial — A — because there are quite a large number of “other other” Matthew Gilbert’s!

In response he posted a very cordial tweet (from the new account). From time to time we tweet each other and, more recently, he acquired the domain www.matthewgilbert.com from me top promote his new book: Off the Leash.

@matthewgilbert_shoutout_to_@matthewagilbert_20110712

So, in six short years on Twitter I not only found my way to new professional and personal opportunities, but I found myself (well, sort of). Thank you for a superb six years, Twitter — I look forward to the next six with enthusiasm and excitement!

So what do you get a social network for its 7th birthday?

It was on this date — March 21, 2006 — that Twitter was born. Launching the service Jack Dorsey sent the very first public tweet — “just setting up my twttr” — back when Twitter was called Twttr (sans vowels).

Twitter Logo

Imagine if he had tweeted Watson to come join him in the room? Incidentally, it was another day in March — the 10th — in 1876 that Alexander Graham Bell made that famous first call to Mr. Watson.

And there certainly would never have been Twitter if there never had been a phone: thanks, Alexander Graham Bell!

Speaking of Alexander Graham Bell, I had actually tweeted my above idea in 2009 — and (as you can see below) @Jack replied to the post, correcting me that, the first actual tweet he sent on Twitter was simply “inviting coworkers.”

Using a service called MyTweet16 I found the first tweets for two of my Twitter accounts: @generative and @dadsamore.

I located some of some of the earliest tweets for @matthewagilbert (which I started using as my primary Twitter account in June 2011). I also found some of the earliest tweets from @doctorious when I made my account public again in 2010 after making them private for part of late 2009 and early 2010.

Regardless of what my first tweets were or when they were sent, since I began using Twitter on November 20, 2008 — from the DeVry University in Bakersfield where I was teaching — it has been one of the main subjects about which I teach. Notably, it is also the reason why I was hired for at least one teaching job.

Twitter has grown exponentially since that first tweet. According to their blog post celebrating the anniversary:

“we have well over 200 million active users creating over 400 million Tweets each day. The steep trajectory of Twitter’s momentum is something @jack, @ev and @biz only dreamed about back in 2006.”

So what DO you get a social network for its 7th birthday, after all? Honestly, I still have no idea, but Sir Richard Branson had some interesting things to say about Twitter — and that’s as good a gift as any!

On December 1, 2008 I blogged about my doctoral dreams and how I plan to apply for programs starting on December 1, 2009 — my “PhD-Day.” I also featured photos and a video of a graffiti-laden delivery truck on which the letters “P-H-D” are spray painted on the roll-top door. I have decided to call this truck the “PhD-Mobile” (like “Batmobile” but for academics).

I have intermittently encountered the “PhD-Mobile” and interpret it as a sign that pursuing a doctorate is the right path for me. I started seeing this truck in March 2008 when I was driving to and from the DeVry Center in Bakersfield, CA where I have been an adjunct professor since October 2007.

I am sure these letters are just some tagger’s initials, but to me they represents my dream of earning a PhD by studying the impact of social media on the management and marketing of knowledge (possibly with a focus in the health care industry).

With regard to that process, I am now evaluating disciplines in which to conduct my research. The leading contender is Communication, although Marketing and Information Science remain possibilities. You can track my progress in my PhD-Day Diary.

After a long period during which I did not see the “PhD-Mobile” I saw it again during the morning of February 24, 2009! I happened upon it while driving on Interstate 5 North (near Pyramid Lake) from my home in Santa Clarita, CA to DeVry University (as has been the case in the past).

Here’s a video of the truck (in slow motion and intentionally without sound):

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A photo of the same truck follows. Note that the truck was driving so slowly in order to get this picture (after initially getting the video, above) I had to exit Interstate 5 at Pyramid Lake, wait for approximately five minutes and then, once I saw the truck pass by, re-enter the freeway.

PhDMV Take Two?

The timing of the sighting was auspicious as it was two days after my birthday and right after I had been evaluating my options. I had also taken a practice GRE on Sunday (my actual birthday) so my mind was very pre-occupied with thoughts related to the doctorate.

I guess this was a reminder that I am headed in the right direction!