Using Twitter for book summaries

On: February 17, 2009
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About Bas Bisseling
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Every university- or college student has to deal with books to build a foundation of knowledge within a field of expertise. My learning method is no different than method other students use (I Think). This is my method; the first step is using my magic marker to highlight important text. Then I’ll collect the marked area’s and will write them down in a chronological order by using MS Word. finally, I will summarize the most important bits into a readable and coherent text. As far as I know, their is not really a practice of working together in summarizing lectures. Google Docs has the functionality, but I don’t use it often…

I think it would be interesting, as an experiment, to find out if would be a helpful medium to summarize text in a cooperative manner. Thus, collectively building a summary using

I started of by summarizing Lawrence Lessig’s ‘Free Culture’ (creative commons licence) and putting the important bits into The result is an bunch of lines (summary-bits), which are structured as followed. A line starts of with the chapter name, e.g. Introduction. It is then followed by quoted text, the author and a page number. (The image will link to the Twitter summary)

Book summary on Twitter

Book summary on Twitter

A disadvantage I immediately did come across, was the lack of ability to post a comment directly targeted at (under) a twitter post. Howe ever, that’s just not the way (wants to) function(s). If you leave a comment, it will – based on the time of the post – show on top. Twitter’s monologue-logic prefers time over context. is totally different, but its tree-functionality works!

Three-structure comments

Three-structure comments

Another disadvantage of’s functionality was the inability to filter posts. As a result, users have to start reading the summary-bits backwards. Users prefer to read the summary-bits in a chronological order.By using the Twitter-API, I am able to change the summary-bits into a data set, which can be modified. In the picture below, the result of the data set is showing. Because, I’ve used a consistent ‘syntax’ within the text, filtering the data set was easy.

Using Twitters API

Using Twitter's API

To conclude this little experiment. I think it’s very interesting to think about cooperative ways of writing summaries and micro-blogging. is not the best medium as it is. Due to the lack of direct commenting and filtering. But altering its functionality, for example using its API, will create opportunities. So, I do recommend a forum based structure, like the example. However, building a Twitter clone with adjustments would be the best solution for writing summaries in the future.

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