I first heard about Twitter in 2008 when James Buck was in Egypt and found himself arrested. His simple tweet, “arrested,” alerted his friends back in the States and fellow activists in Egypt that he may need legal help, which his University ultimately secured for him. He was freed less than 24 hours later. Since I live on the edge often do dumb things, I decided I needed to investigate this Twitter business further in case I ever needed instant legal counsel moral support. I joined in early 2009 and have seen the site grow in ways I never would have imagined.

Twitter first started as a sketch by Jack Dorsey in 2006. Jack was also the first to send a tweet on a platform that now boasts 255 million users sending over 500 million tweets a day who speak over 35 languages. When it debuted on the New York Stock Exchange in 2013, it was valued at 14 billion dollars which rose to 25 billion by the end of the first day of trading. Yes, 25 billion.

The concept is simple, Dorsey wanted to create somewhere you could share the happenings of your day and help you stay connected to others. On the way to the grocery store? Tell people about it. Mowing the lawn? Everyone must know! By limiting it to 140 characters, you were forced to share small snippets that make up your day, kind of like a public Instant Message (AIM, anyone?), as opposed to long form blog posts or messaging. Since it began, it has expanded to allow you to share photos, your location, and video and is integrated with many other social media applications such as Tumblr and Facebook.

These days, you can get an endless stream of information on Twitter and tailor it to what your interests are. You can follow news sources, celebrities, your friends, comedians, brands, parody accounts and anyone else who has thoughts to share. People love following celebrities because it allows them to engage directly in a way that was not possible before. It has changed journalism, as live updates from first person accounts have become commonplace. It allows us to follow events, from protests to our favorite TV shows, and share information instantly amongst a community of peers. The list of users is only growing and curating my timeline takes up more of my time than I’m willing to admit.

There are many kinds of users of Twitter. Some only follow people and never tweet, others seems to never stop tweeting. I use it to follow a variety of things like my favorite celebrities, local news, technology writers, comedians and my friends. Who you choose to follow obviously shapes what your twitter feed looks like so people have endless types of experiences using Twitter. You can make your Twitter private so that you have to approve anyone who wants to follow you but, like anything on the internet, once it’s out there, it really is never private.

So, how will we use it at WACAC? Our hope is to get attendees to utilize social media to help share what they learn, network and have fun! Anything you share from the conference you can hashtaghashtag #WACAC2014 so we can all see what our colleagues are posting. On Day 1, we’ll solicit member posts themed Today I Learned (TIL at #WACAC2014). Day 2, we’ll unveil SWAGAC with witty giveaways staged around the conference center (#SWAGAC), and the final day will be dedicated to reflective conference posts. If you don’t already, follow us on Twitter @WACAC and get ready for some fun at #WACAC2014.

Twitter Dictionary
Tweet: the name given to a 140 character or less snippet that a person shares.
Timeline: your timeline is the feed of tweets from yourself and people you follow. You choose who shows up there and it is a chronological list of tweets.
Follow: when you follow someone, it means you have chosen to have their tweets show up on your twitter timeline.
Retweet: if I see a tweet I like, I can retweet it so that it shows up on my timeline and my followers see it, but it is still credited to the original person who tweeted it.
Reply/ @ Reply: you can respond to someone’s tweet and by putting the @ sign, followed by their user name, you ensure they see it. In essence, you are tagging them. User names are always preceded by an @ sign. @WACAC, @ohsam, @MindyKaling.
Favorite: if I see a tweet I like but do not want to retweet it, I can favorite it. It will then be on a list I can see of all the tweets I have favorited. People may also use it to acknowledge they saw something you tweeted at them.
Hashtag: a hashtag (#) preceding a word turns the word or phrase into a traceable trend. By clicking on a hashtagged word, you can see all of the tweets that share that hashtag. Anyone can make one up, as it is a trend free for all. You can track TV shows, news, events or ideas. Jimmy Fallon does hilarious things with it, CNN does serious things with it, I do dumb things with it. Some people really hate what hashtags have done to society: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57dzaMaouXA.
Trending: Twitter looks at all the tweets out there and when something is being tweeted by lots of people, it may be trending. When Scandal airs, the hashtag #Scandal trends because of how many people tweet about it. When news breaks, a name or associated hashtag may trend. Right now, May the 4th is trending because people are Star Wars nerds. You can look at trends locally or globally, but odds are if you’re trending, something really great or really not great has happened to you.
Direct Message / DM: This allows you to send a private message (i.e. not on your timeline) directly to someone who you follow and who follows you. Many users will sometimes accidentally tweet something they meant to DM. Some users have DMs become public. You can ask Anthony Weiner about it.

By Sam Schreiber