Vellum and Twijector: Twitter Tools for Today



I am in tool harvesting mode now that the semester is over.  Pleasant job indeed.  Here are two I am beginning to use: Vellum and Twijector.

Twijector is in a long tradition of tweet projecting tools: Tweetbeam, TweetWallPro, VisibleTweets  (cool factor of falling letters kinetic typography), Twubs,   et al.  the problem is that most of them cost bucks.  That is why I like Twijector–free.  And it is simple, just the tweets folks in full screen mode if you want.  Personally, I have been keeping it up in my browser to give me a real-time spot to check what is happening on the hashtag.  I could do this with Tweetdeck or some other hashtag client (Twubs works pretty well for that), but I just like it’s simplicity.  Of course, I could wish for it to be embeddable, but …

Here is the Twijector feed for #clmooc (which btw you should sign up for post haste  because we are going to have a blast this summer.)

The other tools/website I wanted to mention was the NYTimes’ Lab tool, Vellum. Here is the Times’ skinny on it.  They call it a “reading layer”–I like to think of it as a links filter on your Twitter feed, an interesting new species of curation.

Here’s how Alexis Lloyd put it:

One of my primary uses for Twitter is to find interesting reading material: breaking news, long reads, research relevant to my work, or funny things about maps. However, Twitter’s interface treats commentary as primary and content as secondary, which can make it difficult to discover things to read if I’m mostly interested in that secondary content.

To address this use case, we created Vellum. Vellum acts as a reading list  for your Twitter feed, finding all the links that are being shared by those you follow on Twitter and displaying them each with their full titles and descriptions. This flips the Twitter model, treating the links as primary and the commentary as secondary (you can still see all the tweets about each link, but they are less prominent). Vellum puts a spotlight on content, making it easy to find what you should read next.

Once you authorize the NYTimes to use your twitter feed, they strip away all but the links and some title matter and usually some of the original twitter commentary.  I find that I use it along with my other workpaths (inoreader rss aggregator, gmail, WordPress Reader, G+) to start my day.

Two aspects of Vellum I like:

1. I love the focus it gives me. I can just read the content if I want.    

2. I love how I can see whether or not my twitter feed is varied or not. I like it varied with some professional emphasis and this gives me a quick check on that.  Wouldn’t want to be trapped in a Twitter echochamber now would I?  

For example in the screenshot below, I have the Onion and MIT Tech review and Politico and turtles. A fine pastiche. I am full on use mode and thought you might like to try it too.


The MacGyver of Flyers–Smore, the FlyLetter

It’s called Smore and it creates flyers with a social media twist. This is one of those tools you want your club to use or your or your school or your church. It takes a common form as its template–the flyer–and then shows how you can use it in the Webbed-up world. It has social media connections (especially Facebook), is embeddable (scroll below), has analytics, allows for video and audio (would be very effective is used with augmented reality app like Aurasma), is printable, and is published to its own web page. It also has badges and looks to have a gamification element to it as well. It really is a cross between a flyer and a newsletter–a flyletter?–and seems to live in the both virtual and physical realms quite happily. It costs $59 for teachers, but I am using the freebie edition.

Thanks to Richard Byrne for the heads up on this here.

Make/Assignment Banks/Repositories/Galleries with Alan Levine



Tonight Paul Allison’t TeachersTeachingTeachers Hangout will feature a discussion of Make/Assignment Banks.

Wednesday, May 21 on Teachers Teaching Teachers — 6PM Pacific/9PM Eastern — we will be talking about Make/Assignment Banks/repositories/Galleries with  +Alan Levine leader and teacher of the open digital storytelling class, ds106

Paul has some interesting observations on his blog and some even more interesting questions:

    • What are and the connections between missions/assignments/makes to #clmooc other collaborative MOOCS or MOOCS in general?
    • How do we guide students and teachers to use and contribute to these repositories? How is it different for different ages?
    • Each are attached to important learning communities/ecologies. What happens when we use them outside of these experiences?
    • What’s the difference between a make and an assignment?

I have prepared a Diigo Group with links that echo some of Paul’s own.  You can access these links here:  

See you tonight at at 9PM ET/6PM PT on Wednesday, May 21.