To the Students: An Invitation to Twitter

Dear Writer,

Twitter can be used for much more than publishing to the world what you are having for dinner. There’s a metaphor gifted to me from a former professor that goes like this: writing floats on a sea of conversation. Twitter is often about conversation. It’s great for making professional connections, accessing information published by people from all over the world, and participating in discussions including the last presidential election, a major sporting or entertainment event, or finding those who care about what you care about. Just last semester, students used Twitter to find gas for their cars after hurricane Sandy, located potential internships, and exchanged tweets from professionals in their area of major from all over the world. Like Facebook and other forms of social media, Twitter can give you a voice heard by businesses and government organizations.

We’ll begin using Twitter as a way to establish community in our course, access information beyond our classroom community, and perhaps build connections with people who care about the same issues we do.  Follow the directions below to set up your account.



Twitter, college, English, writing, language arts, multiple literacies


  1. Consider if you’d like for people to know who you are on Twitter.  I’m “BillTorg” and that’s pretty obviously me.  If I’m “EightiesDude,” then maybe it’s harder to figure out who I am.
  2. If you already have a Twitter account, you are welcome to use it. The personality and content of your Tweets will depend on the public identity you wish to create. This might be the time to use your St. John’s University email account to start a new approach.
  3. Twitter messages are limited to 140 characters.  The longer your Twitter name, the less room you and others have to exchange messages.  So “BillTorg” works better for me than “WilliamJosephTorgerson.”
  4. You will be asked to write a short bio for yourself.  Think about what it will say.  Some people write a silly one.  My sister’s is, “What’s on the what what?” Mine explains my job and what I do. I often find myself revising mine.
  5. You can link to your Twitter account to another site. Perhaps your blog?
  6. Go to
  7. Fill out the “New to Twitter” box.  Complete the steps. Let me know if there’s additional directions I should have listed here. Help me to revise this document so it can better serve the needs of those new to Twitter.
  8. When you finish setting up your account, you are going to tweet to me. You should see a white box that has this inside:  Compose new Tweet…
  9. Click inside the box.  First write this: @BillTorg
  10. The “@billtorg” is my Twitter name. Put whatever you want after that, something like, “I set up my Twitter account!”  If you want to write something more creative than that, go ahead!
  11. When you tweet to me, I’ll write you back. Do you see that “@ Connect” button at the top of the screen? If you click on that, you’ll see everyone who has tweeted directly to you. That will be how you know I received your tweet. I don’t usually follow students and you shouldn’t feel obligated to follow me. We’ll set up a system to see each other’s tweets related to class.
  12. There’s a lot more you can do with finding tweets and customizing your background.  Experiment by reading and clicking around on the Twitter pages. Two great places to start are the “view my profile page” and “#discover.”  On the profile page, click on the large “edit” tab in the upper right hand corner.  On the “#discover” tab, look all over the page and click around. Be sure to click on the following words and phrases:  activity, who to follow, find friends, and browse categories.
  13. More instructions, guidelines, and assignments will follow.

Write to me with questions:

If you know about hash tags (more on that later) we will use this one:  #torgchat

A Funny Bacon Video, Likeable Media, and Life in Los Angeles

My sister Anne and I talk about her move to LA, looking for work, and Dave Kerpen’s book, Likeable Social Media. Anne will also meet up with me next week in Shreveport, Louisiana for the Phenom Film Festival.  We talk pitching projects in Hollywood, and we consider Dave Kerpen’s book, Likeable Social Media.   Oh yeah, there’s a funny bacon video from one of my favorite comedians.

function fbs_click() {u=location.href;t=document.title;‘’+encodeURIComponent(u)+’&t=’+encodeURIComponent(t),’sharer’,’toolbar=0,status=0,width=626,height=436′);return false;} html .fb_share_link { padding:2px 0 0 20px; height:16px; background:url( no-repeat top left; }Share on Facebook

Likeable Social Media William Torgerson Dave Kerpen good book, great read

When Anne tells me she’s not sure her personality is suited to the pitch projects in L.A., I remember the time when I completed an Outdoor Wilderness course through Outward Bound and they talked about people’s comfort zone, stretch zone, and panic zone. The idea was that if you could live in your stretch zone and make it your comfort zone, you could gradually face situations which cause you to be fearful.  Back then, we were talking about sleeping outside without a tent and scaling rock walls, but I think it’s a notion that can be applied to public speaking and trying to meet new people.  My sister is a lady who has jumped out of airplanes. I think she can meet people interested in projects such as Love on the Big Screen.

Listen to the podcast by clicking on the play button below:


You can also listen to the podcast through iTunes. Go to the store and type in “Prof. Torg Read, Write, and Teach Digital Book Club.”  It would help us if you’d rate the podcast or even leave a comment.

Relevant Links:

Questions for you, oh wise reader:

  • Do you ever consult social media to make purchasing decisions?
  • What sorts of pages have you “liked”?
  • Do you use Four Square, Yelp, or other kinds of social media beyond Facebook?
Love to hear your answers via a comment.
And now for your funny “bacon” themed video:

function fbs_click() {u=location.href;t=document.title;‘’+encodeURIComponent(u)+’&t=’+encodeURIComponent(t),’sharer’,’toolbar=0,status=0,width=626,height=436′);return false;} html .fb_share_link { padding:2px 0 0 20px; height:16px; background:url( no-repeat top left; }Share on Facebook

Hey English Teachers and Writers, any suggestions for a class that looks like this?

When I begin to write a syllabus for an upcoming class, I usually first think about the course’s goals and what the assignments should be.  Once that’s decided, I try to plan a schedule that will help us reach the objectives.  As I began this process for my upcoming summer courses, I was feeling kind of bummed out thinking about diving back into that same old work.  Class never ends up much like my ideal writing day, and so I’ve decided to mix up the structure for how I think about planning a course.  I’m starting with what is closer to an ideal writing day for me, and using that routine to give the class structure.  Here’s what I’ve got so far.  I’d love to hear what you think.

Daily Course Structure for Prof. Torg’s Composition Class

For me, to be a writer and thinker means to live within a mass of habits. I believe there might be as many ways to write and think as there are people engaged the acts.  By living in this routine three days a week for six weeks, I hope you’ll begin to think about how to craft your own routine for thinking, or it might be that you’re more of a person who will create an anti-routine.

(20 minutes)    Writing Studies / Annotating a Text

Let’s see what other people have to say about writing.  When I say annotate, I mean that I want you to try and have a conversation with the writer on a copy of their text.  After that, let’s practice using MLA guidelines to integrate the thoughts of others into our own texts.

(5 min)           Warm Up with Rich Language (I provide or you choose?)

Read something that will challenge your intellect, the sort of text that might introduce you to a new word.   Log the word, the context, the title of the work and the author into your daybook.  I think I’ll start you with Poetry magazine.

(10 min)          Teacher as Text.

This is like the first twenty minutes, but you’ll do this on your own with a text of your choosing.  Read something that you’d say is among the best of the sort of text you are trying to write.  I recently adapted my novel and so early each morning I tried to challenge/inspire myself by reading from Alan Ball’s American Beauty and Diablo Cody’s Juno. Look for one writerly observation of which you might make use.  Log the example in your daybook.  Make sure you take good enough notes that you could quote from this text and cite it in a works cited entry for your Writer on Writing Paper.

(20 minutes)    Write a Draft of Something you Need to Write.

Most, if not all of us, write on a computer screen with lots of distractions.  Here, we’re going to try something different:  we’ll write on paper ignoring our cell phone, instant messages, and the latest email to come dinging into our inbox.

(20 minutes)    Small Group Workshop.

Here’s something you might not be used to:  a real audience.  You can share what you just wrote or something that you’ve written and brought in.  It’s best that we all have a copy, but it is also fine if we don’t.  Readers should annotate the text:  underline phrases that get your attention, challenge the thinking, explain what you learn, and ask questions of each other and the writer.

(10 minutes)    A Lesson From Prof. Torg. Usually, there’s something coming up that I need to explain.

(10 minutes)    Work on Your Group Technology Project.

Your group is to make a movie and write a paper that focuses on one aspect of writing studies.

(5 minutes)      What happened worth mentioning today?

Let’s hear from a couple of the writers in the room.  What happened today that you can share?  Is there something you’ve written or read that you are willing to read to us?

(10 minutes)    Prof. Torg on a Text for Grade.

For this portion of the class, I want to show you the best I can what goes on in my head as I read a text written by someone I’m going to have to give a grade.

(10 minutes)    Research at Work.

I’m going to show you clips from a variety of documentaries and/or the work of previous students.  I see these films/texts as examples of those who are asking meaningful questions and pursuing answers.