Twitter can be handy for announcing links to other material, following breaking news and unfolding events, or for humor. But for policy discussion, Twitter has to be just about the dumbest thing on the planet. Watching people attempt to have meaningful exchanges on Twitter is just ridiculous (and I should know because I have occasionally attempted it with miserable results).
Some education policy analysts, however, are undeterred by the stupidity of Twitter and are determined to attempt to change the world through thousands of 140 character messages. Quite often they are communicating thousands of profound 140 character messages to a relatively small number of followers. As is too typical in education policy debates, everyone is on the stage and almost no one is in the audience.
So, I’ve developed the Narcissus Index, which is the ratio of the number of Tweets people have issued to the number of their followers. Essentially it is the ratio of how much we love hearing ourselves talk to how many people actually want to listen to us. I identified 80 education policy analysts from Mike Petrilli’s ranking of the most influential education policy Tweeters as well as the list of Tweeters followed by the Fordham Institute. I excluded the Twitter accounts of organizations, focusing only on individuals. I also excluded office-holders and reporters who may Tweet or be followed by virtue of their position rather than as a means of influencing education policy. I then recorded the number of Tweets and followers for each of these analysts as of today.
I’m sure that I’ve missed some people who I should have included and vice versa, but hey… this is a blog post, not a dissertation. And it’s true that people have been on Twitter for different lengths of time, but more time should allow people to accumulate more followers as well as send more Tweets, so I think that mostly balances out. Lastly, this list is also probably distorted by age, since younger people are more likely to Tweet about everything, including how delicious dinner was, in addition to their thoughts about education policy.
As you can see in the table below, 47 of the 80 education policy analysts I examined had more Tweets than followers. That is, they had more things to say to the world than there were people who wanted to hear them. Some people have quite a lot that they need to tell the world in 140 characters. Teacher and blogger, Larry Ferlazzo has the most Tweets, with 55,215, followed by Diane Ravitch (41,798), and RiShawn Biddle (37,514). Ravitch has even more followers than she has Tweets, for a ratio of .87 Tweets to followers, but Ferlazzo and Biddle don’t have the followers to match their prolific Tweeting, with ratios of 2.21 and 6.89, respectively.
USC professor, Morgan Polikoff, wins the prize for the highest ratio, with 15.19 times more Tweets than followers. I think he is relatively new to Twitter, so perhaps his followers will catch up to his Tweeting. The Frustrated Teacher, Dave Russell, may be frustrated by having 12.64 times more Tweets than followers. Wisconsin professor, Sara Goldrick-Rab has 9.93 times more Tweets than followers. And South Florida professor, Sherman Dorn, has 8.82 times as many Tweets as followers.
At the opposite end of the list we see some education policy analysts with very large numbers of followers relative to Tweets. A lot of people want to hear the relatively few things they have to say. Jeb Bush has 79,312 followers compared to only 582 Tweets for a Narcissus Index score of only .01. When Michelle Rhee talks, people want to listen, giving her a a ratio of only .03. Alfie Kohn has nearly 20 times more followers than his 1,243 Tweets. And Linda Perlstein has nearly 10 times as many followers as Tweets.
Now while you guys search for your own names and argue about the results, I’ll just go ahead and Google myself to read more about me. I clearly need to invest more in my Narcissism.
|The Frustrated Teacher||@tfteacher||25,742||2,036||12.64|
|Deborah M. McGriff||@dmmcgriff||2,660||548||4.85|
|Jamie Davies O’Leary||@jamieoleary||870||236||3.69|
|Marc Porter Magee||@marcportermagee||4,284||1,414||3.03|
|Jenna Schuette Talbot||@jennastalbot||5,165||1,708||3.02|
|Kathleen Porter Magee||@kportermagee||2,997||1,229||2.44|
|Matthew K. Tabor||@matthewktabor||10,081||4,811||2.10|
|Andrew P. Kelly||@andrewpkelly||693||532||1.30|
|Kevin P. Chavous||@kevinpchavous||1,340||1,339||1.00|
|Tom Vander Ark||@tvanderark||8,044||13,805||0.58|
|Richard Lee Colvin||@R_Colvin||1,472||3,336||0.44|
|Not Diane Ravtich||@NOTDianeRavitch||270||616||0.44|
|Jay P. Greene||@jaypgreene||454||1,416||0.32|