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12/2/11

#pencilchat

Sometime in the evening, David Wees tweeted about reading Pencil Me In, a book I wrote using pencils as an allegory for educational technology. Mary Beth Hertz had mentioned it in an article earlier this week. Meanwhile Dr. Strange's EDM 310 class continued to leave thoughtful comments on Adventures in Pencil Integration. So, I guess it was on my mind.

I wrote a few tweets with the hashtag #pencilchat, not expecting anything more than a few retweets and some banter with fellow techie-luddites. Malyn Mawby joined in, along with a few of her followers and all of a sudden there was a conversation.

I'm not sure how it happened, but it seemed to go viral. I woke up this morning expecting that it would have died out and I saw 2,000 new tweets for #pencilchat.

Here are my thoughts on why it went viral:

  1. Diversity: The right people joined in at the right time. There were enough people with a spread-out web of friends to make it work. 
  2. Geography: It moved from the U.S. (most of my Eastern Twitter friends were asleep) to Australia to the U.K. and it never really stopped. 
  3. Quirkiness: It was a fun, creative topic. You could be earnest or sarcastic, literally or figurative. 
  4. Easy: It wasn't too narrow of a topic. Everyone uses pencils. Everyone uses computers. 

Anyway, I thought it was kind-of cool that it continued. Who knew pencils could be such a hot topic on Twitter?

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JOHN SPENCER
Professor of Instructional Technology
I want to see kids embrace creativity. As a teacher, this meant murals, documentaries, STEM camps, and coding projects. As a dad, this has meant elaborate pillow forts and home-made pinball machines and the story of non-magical wizard who makes robots. It's also why I co-founded Write About. Interested in having me speak or consult on design thinking and creativity? Visit my speaking page and fill out the contact form at the bottom. I'll get back to you within 24 hours.

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