Last week I saw a post on TechCrunch for Topify, a new app in private beta. I grabbed one of the beta invites and started using it. I'm hooked.

Topify makes Twitter user management better by doing all the things you wish Twitter did already.
When you log into Topify, you're given a special Topify email address. You'll pop that email address into your Twitter account. Now when someone follows you on Twitter, you get a detailed email. The follow notice has run through Topify, which is then emailing you all information you wished you had previously. That boring Twitter email (John is now following you on Twitter) has been vastly improved.

The Topify email gives you their avatar, number of followers/following, last tweet, bio, and when they last updated their Twitter account. You can decide, quickly, how to proceed. In some cases, you'll know instantly it's a spam twitter account and you can go out and block them.

But perhaps you want to follow them back. All you need to do is hit reply and send in your email program. That's it. Topify will take care of your follow-back.
Additionally, if you want to send a direct message to the person after you follow them, you can again hit reply. It's so simple, but very elegant.

The TechCrunch invites have all been taken, but you can still request a Topify beta invite.

Reposted from

 | Posted by | Categories: Twitter, Web 2.0 |

When I teach my class on using Twitter in Business, I always spend a
fair amount of time on Twitter Search. After all, where else can you
watch comments on your brand in real time?

So I really like Twingly. Previously a blog search engine, they've expanded to microblogging.

Twingly searches Twitter, but it also searches other microblogging
sites, including Jaiku,, the Pownce archives, and
microblogging options I haven't even heard of.

I like being able to aggregate the information from all the sites.
However, my only complaint is that the results are not real-time
updates, as in It functions more like a Google for microblogging, but that's not always a bad thing.

(re-posted from

 | Posted by | Categories: Twitter, Web 2.0, Web/Tech |
cross-posted from

Be careful what you click. I know you are all smart, capable adults, but sometimes we can all accidentally click the wrong thing.

In the last few days, I've received several direct messages from
friends that were phishing attacks (twishing) in disguise. The first screenshot
below – hey look at this funny blog – is the one that worries me the most. To me, at least, that one sounds the most believable.

The rule here? If it looks suspicious, don't click it. At least one of these takes you to
When you get to the site, it looks just like the Twitter login page,
with the exception of the URL. If you enter your information, you're
essentially offering your user name and password to the phishers.

Image Credit

Now, it's just Twitter, so it's not that big of a deal until you
consider how many people out there just might be using the same user
name/password combination all over the web. Suddenly all sorts of
accounts are vulnerable.

Remember what I said about paying attention? My guess is some
folks out there, overworked personal assistants or interns or who
knows, did not pay attention. Apparently the Twitter feed for Barack
Obama, Rick Sanchez (CNN), Britney Spears, and Fox News have been
hacked. Well, hacked in that they are certainly not posting the latest
updates themselves. TechCrunch has the full story on the Celeb Hacking.

Twitter is doing a good job of pulling all of these fake tweets, as
well as direct message phishes, fairly rapidly. The only sign of
several of the direct messages I received was in my email – they've
been pulled from my Twitter feed.

Just be aware of what you click.

UPDATE: Twitter announced today that the two circumstances have nothing to do with each other. In fact, the celeb account issues stemmed from an insecure support tool Twitter was using. Those tools have now been shut down and will not be put into use again until all security holes are plugged.

Once you're hacked, you're heading towards mainstream. However it remains to be seen if Twitter is truly ready for prime-time yet.

 | Posted by | Categories: Twitter |

Questioning Conference Tools

19 November 2008

I moderated an unconference this year at the Wine Bloggers Conference.  I rapidly followed that up with speaking at DevLearn, so I couldn’t make it to Elliot Masie’s Learning 2008 for the first time since the event started. Truly, the Wine Bloggers Conference was probably more fun, as far as that goes, but I still missed a lot of things about the Masie event.

I think I’ve compared and contrasted  these conferences before, but with a new ASTD technology for the upcoming TechKnowledge, I wanted to do it again.

I enjoy ASTD TechKnowledge, and every year it gets just a tiny bit more technical, which makes me happy. In the past, there was no real way to communicate with the speakers, beyond recording their email address at a session. Well, ASTD has now implemented their Speaker Feedback System. You enter the speaker’s first name, last name, and session number. You can then fill out the form and it sends an email to the speaker.

Now, more often than not, I’m a speaker at these events. I already have an inbox of 431 work related emails, not to mention my other email accounts. I am not overly thrilled that this is the tact that ASTD has taken. Sure, it opens up a dialogue with the speaker, which is more than we had before, but email does not open up that big of a dialogue. It’s one on one and does not include group discussion.

This brings me to Masie’s conferences. For every conference, Masie offers a Wiki. Each session has a wiki page, complete with speaker bio and session information. You don’t need to have knowledge of the speaker’s name or session number. You can search on what you’re interested in.

At Learning 2007, I spoke on Blogs. Had you searched the conference wiki for blogs, I would have popped up. It was topic-based search, which is amazingly useful. Not only that, but conversations about the topic could start on the wiki (anyone could participate) before the conference started and continue after the conference ended. As opposed to using handouts, I put all of my resources – most of which were hyperlinks – on the wiki. Folks thought this was brilliant. It’s so much easier to click than to type out a long, nonsensical hyperlink. And because it was a wiki, anyone and everyone could contribute to group discussion beforehand.

Alternatively (and just as easily), ASTD could build a community group on Ning where each session has its own discussion group. Again, this site could be chock full of information and build itself on group input and collaboration. Not only would this help the speakers with their presentations and audience, it would help the attendees by generating useful discussion.

ASTD already requires that speakers create tree-killing handouts that include job aids and workbooks. Now we’re getting direct email as well. Wouldn’t a wiki or discussion forum, where everyone could join into the conversation work better? ASTD also offers fantastic Learning Labs – basically unconferences – where people discuss what they’ve learned so far. These sessions have individual wikis. Imagine integrating these sessions into an overall wiki, where they were searchable and easy to find for everyone. 

Again, I really enjoy the ASTD conferences, and I particularly enjoy the people I meet there. I appreciate the opportunity to speak at TechKnowledge. But I would love to somehow work with them to tweak their conference tools. I love that they’re trying to get attendees and speakers more connected, but I feel like they’re missing out on the opportunity for great discussion.

UPDATE: Just heard from ASTD, and they don’t want a group discussion. This baffles me completely. Group learning, group discussion, INFORMAL LEARNING – that’s the future. Not email. They are also setting up a social network via LinkedIn, so I’m not sure how well that will work. My money is on the idea that they’ll use the built-in discussion group features in LinkedIn and call that ASTD Connect.

Also, they hadn’t thought of a Twitter backchannel. Of course, the great thing about that is we can set it up ourselves if need be. I can’t even describe the amazing DevLearn Twitter backchannel and how much it brought to the conference for me.

I appreciate the effort, but somehow feel like they are missing out on the important points. I often feel like ASTD, and I include my local chapter in this, facilitates Learning 1.0 and sort of looks at Learning 2.0 but shies away like a scared bunny.

What do you think? As a speaker, would you rather have attendees email you or participate in a pre-session discussion? How about as an attendee? Would you rather send an email or participate in an informal, online discussion? I ask because I’m fully willing to admit that I’m wrong on this. Let me know.

Disclaimer: This is my third year leading a session of some sort at TechKnowledge. I am the frustrated webmaster (and recently the VP of Technology) for our local chapter. I’ve tried repeatedly to get on the Planning Committee for TechKnowledge as well – apparently I don’t know the right people. I want to fix this – not complain about it on my blog – but they make it difficult.

The latest tweets from the Write Technology Twitter Feed:

  • 14:22 Am officially tweeted out folks. Check back Monday when I’ll be back on the Twitter bandwagon. 🙂 #DevLearn08 #
  • 14:58 Goodbye #DL08 #Devlearn08! Great new friends, great seeing old friends … thanks for lots of learning and a great time. Cheers! #


Find Michelle Lentz here on Write Technology, on Twitter, or on Pownce.

 | Posted by | Categories: Twitter |

The latest tweets from the Write Technology Twitter Feed:

  • 20:46 Have a seen a lot of tentative (and I suspect first) twitters from #devlearn08. Welcome, all, to twitter! #
  • 00:18 A little nervous about my Twitter presentations tomorrow. The #devlearn attendees, myself included, are a tough and varied crowd. #
  • 10:00 Breakfast Byte on Twitter today – hope everyone is happy with more of a discussion than a fancy presentation. 🙂 #devlearn08 #
  • 10:16 Could everyone out there say hello to my Breakfast Bytes session on Twitter? Wave hi or something. 🙂 #
  • 11:40 Thanks everyone for the breakfast byte hellos! It was fantastic! You’ll be put into service again this afternoon, ’round 1:30 PST. 🙂 #
  • 11:59 #devlearn08 #dl08 This reminds me of the 1st ep of Mad Men where Don is scribbling advert ideas on the back of a napkin in a martini lounge. #
  • 12:09 #devlearn08 I hold that some of the best conversations happen in bars, along with the best ideas. #
  • 12:16 #Devlearn08 related: I once wrote a blog post called it all starts with paper, inc the original DOODLE for Twitter #
  • 12:16 Sigh – I’m really a purple or blue pen person. What does that say about me? (Don’t answer that.) #devlearn08 #dl08 #
  • 12:20 Original paper sketch of twitter: #
  • 13:49 If you’re new to Twitter & at DevLearn, tag your tweets with #devlearn08 or #dl08 to enter the conference stream. (I forget all the time.) #
  • 13:58 #Devlearn ILS Challenge: Design a game to help predict a player’s ethical qualities #
  • 14:22 Changing your thinking on ROI and social media: #
  • 14:24 Twitter Brand Perception by users: #
  • 14:35 Off to go have a quiet lunch and get my thoughts together before my afternoon presentation. Just acquired more info to share! #dl08 #
  • 16:08 Having loads of Twitter trouble right before what? My Twitter presentation. Figures. #
  • 16:13 Could everyone out there who is tweeting send a big hello to my afternoon Twitter group? They’re here to learn about tweeting. #
  • 16:43 Directory of Learning Pros: #
  • 18:00 Thank you everyone, for saying hello to the Twitter session. Instant feedback is always impressive. 🙂 #
  • 18:01 Session 608 – everyone should join us! 😉 #
  • 18:26 Slightly worried that #dl08 session 608 is devolving into a vendor presentation for Intro Networks, which we used for Masie conferences. #


Find Michelle Lentz here on Write Technology, on Twitter, or on Pownce.

 | Posted by | Categories: Twitter |

The latest tweets from the Write Technology Twitter Feed:

  • 22:34 Am heading to Fairmont lobby for a drink. Hope to meet other #Devlearn08 folks. #
  • 11:29 #devlearn08 Wondering if it will be rude for me to twitter the keynote and take notes on my laptop … #
  • 11:30 Hiding out behind my glasses today, making some sort of an attempt to look professional #
  • 11:56 Having a minor fangirl moment during Tim O’Reilly’s keynote at #devlearn08 #dl08 #
  • 12:10 #devlearn08 #dl08 Taking notes in Evernote. Love that it will sync to my Mac back home and online. And my phone. #
  • 12:11 Wondering if I can turn my notes from #devlearn08 into a blog post for #
  • 12:22 Just found out that CoveritLive now integrates Twitter Feed. That’s awesome! Wish they’d had that option during the Wine Bloggers Confer … #
  • 12:34 97% of Flickr users change their default avatar – perhaps because it’s not smiling. Interesting. #devlearn08 #
  • 12:36 Design architecture guides people, almost emotionally, to interact with the site. Obvious, yet I hadn’t thought about it.#devlearn08 #
  • 12:50 – Tim O’Reilly @ Devlearn08 #
  • 13:38 Going to try session 108, ID for the Semantic Web #devlearn08 #dl08 #
  • 13:47 Father Guido Sarducci’s The 5 Minute University. Great way to start a session! #devlearn08 #
  • 14:11 Twitter seems to be havng issues with "in reply to" links. FAIL #
  • 14:49 Oh! just had my 1001st tweet on this account. I missed 1000! #
  • 16:23 Hmmm … listening to anti-technology chitchat and seriously reconsidering attending session 201. Wow. Double wow. #
  • 16:28 Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Folks in this room think I’m a 20-something because I have a laptop out and can multi-task. 20-something!  #devlearn08 #
  • 16:47 Am cutting out of 201. It’s more about what tech writers do. I am one, so new session for me. #devlearn08 #


Find Michelle Lentz here on Write Technology, on Twitter, or on Pownce.

 | Posted by | Categories: Twitter |

The Twitter presentation I’m giving at DevLearn evolved from a rather free-form presentation I gave at Podcamp Ohio back in June. In the way of technology, a lot of what I said then has changed (Summize is now, Jott is no longer free, and so on …).

When I present, I love to get the audience involved. I want your questions; I want your input: I want your suggestions. I do not want to just get up there and talk at you. It worked fairly well in this presentation, but I would have loved more additional input.

Of course, being that I was presenting and things always go wrong, we had no Internet access for the first half of the session, and I was soaked in the rain on my way into Podcamp that morning. I don’t recover well from being drenched. But, the session got some pretty good reviews and I look forward to returning to Podcamp Ohio next year.

The Podcamp video is 20 minutes long. This is only the first half of the presentation. You can also view the second half, which is where most of the conversation takes place. I promise, I come off much better live and in person.

 | Posted by | Categories: Events, Twitter, Web 2.0, Web/Tech |

All this travel is keeping me from a lot of original content. Here is my latest post from, which I think you’ll enjoy.

I follow Laura Fitton on
Twitter and am usually either enlightened or entertained by her tweets.
Her company, Pistachio Consulting, has released a paper and a
comparison matrix on microblogging (or microsharing) tools used in
corporations: Enterprise Microsharing Tools Comparison: Nineteen Applications to Revolutionize Employee Effectiveness.
According the paper, there has been an uptick in this sort of corporate
communication as the economy has a downturn and corporations cut back
on travel costs.

Concurrently, employees see the collaboration,
networking, problem-solving and other productivity benefits of web 2.0
tools and want to apply them at work. These tools directly contribute
to knowledge capture and management as workforces are scaled back and
baby boomers retire, and they boost motivation and retention,
especially among millennial generation employees.

CIO magazine’s October survey of 243 IT executives found
three-quarters plan to freeze or cut their IT budgets. There is a
critical need for cheaper, more versatile ways for information to flow
within the enterprise. Enterprise-grade versions of Twitter may be the
low-cost solution that fills this need.

By researching 19 microsharing tools and their uses, the team came
up with several key findings, including that your employees are
probably already using some sort of microsharing tool and that these
tools should also communicate with the “gold standard” of Twitter. The
report goes on to define, and classify, these 19 different tools,
listing advantages and disadvantages of each. Finally, they list the
questions they asked users of these tools.

I’ll be referencing this paper in a presentation I’m giving on
microblogging in education. As a big proponent of informal learning, I
think microblogging helps inspire others to share and learn.
“Watercooler learning” is evident in Twitter, and Laura touches,
unintentionally perhaps, on these learning and training concepts.

Microsharing for organizational communication and
collaboration fundamentally changes how employees interact with others
and grow their professional capacity. Microsharing connects people in
ways that promote mutual support, rapid networking, inspiration,
mentoring and idea exchange.

This is incredibly useful for anyone looking to add a Twitter-like
tool to their arsenal of internal corporate communications. As is
pointed out in the paper, there aren’t any case studies yet, as usage
is still too new.

You can download the paper and/or matrix free from Pistachio Consulting.


Enterprise Micro Sharing Tools Comparison 11032008Upload a Document to Scribd
 | Posted by | Categories: Training, Travel, Twitter, Web 2.0 |

I’ll be presenting on Twitter at DevLearn ’08 – both at an introductory breakfast bytes session and as a slightly more advanced session later on. That has led to a Guildcast where I was interviewed by Brent Schlenker of the eLearning Guild.

We talk about Twitter (or microblogging) in general, as well as different ways I’ve used Twitter in learning on my own. I didn’t even really get to the myriad of other ways to use Twitter in learning. It was sort of a spur of the moment interview, so I’m really impressed with how Brent managed to edit out my ums, ahs, and giggles.

Oh, and Twitter is like Kleenex? There are so many microblogging tools (Twitter, Pownce,, Jaiku, etc) that Twitter itself is sort of taking on a general term. You know, like Kleenex for any tissue or Coke for what is generally a soda.

The Guildcast is here – enjoy!

 | Posted by | Categories: Conferences, eLearning, Twitter |