Learning on Facebook from Former Students & Discovering Fabulous Things

Up early on Sunday morning, reading Facebook and came across a repost from a former Salisbury High School student, Mike Wohlberg. He was ahead of his time in many ways, especially good in the fine arts, and an expert in technology, media production, almost anything tech related. I learned so much from him. So I find in his feed his repost of an amazing article from Marshall Kilpatrick, Technology Journalist, on How to Use Twitter Plus Needlebase to Discover Fabulous Things. Kilpatrick is a PR buddy of Michael’s sister Julie Wohlberg Conner, another SHS grad, and the circle is complete. Here’s the post:

My PR buddy Julie Wohlberg asked me tonight if I knew any good journalists she should invite to a social media conference in Florida called SheCon. ReadWriteWeb’s Sarah Perez in Tampa was apparently inaccessible, so I took a few minutes to explore some possibilities…with web applications! I used the DIY data extraction and normalization service Needlebase, along with Twitter list search engine Tlists and of course Twitter itself to discover a list of journalists in the South of the US who have more than 2000 Twitter followers. (Mapped above) It wasn’t hard to do at all! Here they are in one Twitter list you can follow: Top South East Journalists.

What I did was use Tlists to find 3 Twitter lists of 500 journalists ( this one, this one and this one), curated by people I was familiar with. Then I used Needlebase to scrape the usernames, locations, number of followers and number of tweets (just for fun) of all the people on those three lists. Then I told Needlebase to exclude anyone with fewer than 2000 followers and show me the remaining ones on a map, grouped by the State they were in. Then I copied their usernames into a text file and sent it to Julie. It was super fun, similar in many ways to this post I put up here last week about the Twitter and LinkedIn habits of Corporate Social Strategists.

This method isn’t complete until you say: hey everyone reading this post, if I missed anyone – let me know and we’ll add you to the list! Machines can work pretty fast, in this case I was slowed down by making a video and talking about it but was able to do all this in about an hour. That’s awesome, but it’s not perfect until there’s a touch of human follow-up too.

How does one do such things at all though? How about I show you a screencast? Hooray! Below are links to 3 videos demonstrating how I did all that. Jing, the free service I used, is limited to 5 minute videos, so there are three and the last one ends a little abruptly. None the less, I hope that you will find them useful and will go out and scrape all kinds of wonderful things for yourself, from all kinds of web pages!

And if you’re able to, check out SheConf in May!

Video 1

Video 2

Video 3

If you watched those videos, I did that 3X with three different Twitter Lists. Yay! Fun times.

Clearly I am very proud of two of our graduates who are so successful, but I found Kilpatrick’s post intriguing for several reasons. It reaffirms the power of social networking, creates a multitude of interesting possibilities for classroom application, and it provided me with a challenge to learn something seriously outside my tech comfort zone. Most of my professional development for real cutting edge learning has always come from the Discovery Educator Network and my PLN, but this approach to aggregating information is new to me. I registered for a free Needlebase account, looked at the tutorials (these people are serious about tutorials), and by tomorrow will likely have a whole new set of questions for our school’s Instructional Coach, Jennifer Brinson. Before I’m finished discovering fabulous things, she’ll have another instructional category on her professional wiki.

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One Comment;

  1. Marshall Kirkpatrick said:

    That’s great RJ! Good luck with Needlebase. The possibilities are nearly endless, at least on sites that don’t bar automated extraction of data (Google, Yahoo, boo)

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