Converse directly with Project Empathy participants.
In most places without Internet access there is still a limited cell phone signal. This means services like phone calls, SMS, WhatsApp, and Twitter are usable, but surfing the web is not. Project Empathy sets up each participating school with a Twitter account. This way, they are not voiceless recipients of content, but partners in building a global library.
What is a hashtag?
If you are a neophyte Twitter user, we recommend you familiarize yourself with how hashtags (#) are used on Twitter.
Essentially, a hashtag is a self-assigned subject heading that you give your tweet to make it part of a topic. For example, if you were tweeting about Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, you might use #USElection or #Election2016 or something similar. There is no wrong hashtag, but hashtags that are used by lots of people on Twitter can become popular. If you wanted to talk about hashtags, you would use #hashtag (whoa, that's meta). With hashtags, capitalization does not matter but you can't use any spaces - as soon as you add a space the hashtag ends. Therefore, many people use capitalization to help make hashtags more readable. Which is easier to understand at first glance, #goodhashtagetiquette or #GoodHashtagEtiquette?
Hashtags are also searchable on Twitter, so if you want to see what people are saying about the US election, you could search for "#Election2016." Note: when you search for #Election2016, tweets using #USElection won't show up. Thus, while there are no right or wrong hashtags, it is useful to see what hashtags are already popular for established topics so that your tweet becomes part of the larger conversation.
How Project Empathy Uses Twitter
Broadly, there are two ways to use Twitter with Project Empathy: conversation and requesting content.
For having a conversation with other classrooms participating in Project Empathy or just to talk about Project Empathy in general, we suggest you use #ProjectEmpathy
The other way we use Twitter is to enable schools without Internet to request content to be sent using Project Empathy. Students who participate in Project Empathy act as editors - selecting content that they think their peers around the world without Internet want. But Twitter is a way for their peers to have their voices heard so that students don't have to guess.
For this usage, we want to use a separate hashtag that is only used for this purpose. We don't want to have general conversations with this hashtag (you'll see why in a second). The hashtag we use for requesting content is #PEREQ
How the Request Process Works
When someone who has a Project Empathy library installed wants a specific piece of content, they simply need to include #PEREQ in their tweet. How they structure the rest of their tweet is up to them, but the more detail they can give the better.
We are constantly monitoring Twitter for #PEREQ and when a tweet using that hashtag appears, it is up to someone in the community to search for content and send it over Outernet. It is kind of like a hybrid between Google - a computer-run search - and having librarians help you find something in the library. By responding to #PEREQ requests, you are a librarian of the Internet!
Remember when we said not to use #PEREQ unless it is for making a request? The reason is that we want to keep this Twitter ledger clean. The kind folks at Salesforce are helping us make an app that tracks this Twitter back and forth, so we can see what requests are still open, what requests have been filled, and who is working on what.
Once a request is logged, it is up to those of us with Internet to find the right content to fulfill that request. It's like you're a librarian
You can respond to a request with a collection of content, which we call a "bin," or with an individual file. To create a bin, follow this guide. To send an individual file, upload it directly to Outernet.
Frequently Asked Questions
What if I want to get more information/clarity from the requestor about what exactly they want?
This happens a lot. Often, an entire conversation can come out of a request. It's a great opportunity for cross-cultural dialogue! When you need more information in order to find the right content to fulfill a request, reply to the tweet but remove #PEREQ. If you don't remove #PEREQ, your reply will be logged as a brand new request!
We also encourage you to tag your conversation with the specific request. That way, others who might have the same questions you do don't have to ask the reqeustor the same questions. Do this by replying to the original tweet so it gets logged as a conversation and others trying to help can see the answers to your questions.