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#PlannersTweet: Learning how planning and planners use(s) Twitter

Inspired by my friend Raul Pacheco-Vega’s recent use of Twitter to encourage scholars to talk about their research, I’d like to get planning researchers and practitioners talking a little bit about what they get from using Twitter. There’s always been a lot of misperceptions — that Twitter is only for reading headlines, sharing what you ate for breakfast or following celebrity gossip. While it is, admittedly, fantastic for that, we’re also sharing important things like how we feel about our communities or being inspired to improve our collective experience.

With that in mind, if you are on Twitter, I invite you to post one or many tweets on the question:

How does Twitter help you as a planner?
What do you think planners or planning should know about Twitter?

Let’s get a conversation going using the hashtag #plannerstweet!

Why are you interested?

My research for my master’s thesis is examining how organizations have used and understand Twitter for public engagement on sustainability issues, so I’m interested in how planners see Twitter and how they carry these perceptions into their work! I have some more information on my research available in this blog post about my research.

More personally, I have been using Twitter since before I became a student of planning, and arguably it has been a pretty important part of how I learn about planning best practice and the many perspectives people bring to questions about the future of cities, and I think it is changing the way people form and understand community in ways that are relevant to planning.

How will you be using what you hear?

I’ve gotten a lot of advice from people I’ve talked to about my research to use Twitter itself to engage people in conversation about my research, and figured now, while I’m fairly early in the research process, is as good a time as any to let people know what questions I’m asking and how I’m thinking of answering them.

On February 2, I will be giving a presentation at the Canadian Association of Planning Students conference on February 2, 2012, entitled “Twitter for community and engagement.” I’ll be presenting some initial key ideas about how I’ll be conducting this research to fellow students (each with their own interests, opinions and experiences with both planning, social media and technology generally), and I will also do a summary of what’s been said about planners tweeting. I’ll make that presentation file available once the conference has ended as well.

This is pretty new for me and I’m looking forward to learning whatever I can from it. With any hope, the people I’ve been talking to and following who talk about planning, feel like weighing in on this!

This also seems like a good time to ask — the Transportation Research Board just held their annual meeting just wrapped up in Washington, D.C. (where I learned a lot just by following along on Twitter with the #trbam tag), where many were enthusiastically tweeting and pulling others to join in the digital backchannel.

Finally…, However you use Twitter is relevant. Although my personal interest is public engagement, planners do a lot of things that aren’t public engagement that are potentially impacted by Twitter and social media too. Whether it’s following along conference (like I do, a lot), keeping in touch with those people you connected with but are far away from, or just keeping an ear to the ground on who else is talking about what is going on in places that matter to you, it’s all fair game. Sky’s the limit. (Anyway, this is Twitter, I couldn’t stop you if I tried.)

Looking forward to hearing everyone’s thoughts on using Twitter!

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