What is #bikeschool on Twitter?
A little bit of chat history
Instant messaging predates the Internet, with programs like
talk used for text communication among users of early multi-user operating systems. When CompuServe introduced their “CB Simulator” in 1980, it quickly became their largest single product in spite of zero marketing on their part. This early multiuser chat initially boasted 40 “bands” or “channels,” which they eventually expanded.
Later during the 80s, BITNET Relay became another popular chat system used on BBS systems. 30 years before Facebook and Twitter informed the world of revolution in Egypt and Tunisia, BITNET Relay users bypassed official media controls to report on revolution in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union beginning in the late 80s.
Later, Finish computer researcher Jarkko Oikarinen would create Internet Relay Chat (IRC) just as the Internet became open to the general public.
IRC servers can have any number of “channels” or topic groups, of which there are literally hundreds of thousands. You logon to an IRC server with your IRC client software, join a channel on a topic you’re interested in, chat away and have trout slapping fights with the other people in the channel.
AOL would replicate multiuser chat much later with AIM and chat rooms.
So what about #bikeschool?
People on Twitter began using hashtags to replicate multiuser chat room functionality on Twitter. You tag your Twitter update with #subject, where subject is the name of the topic you follow. It’s an awfully clunky interface, but workarounds like TweetChat help simplify these Twitter chat sessions, and I anticipate more tools like this will pop up.
One of these topics is #bikeschool, a weekly and popular one hour chat session that takes place beginning at 9 PM US Eastern Time every Thursday. One of the #bikeschool founders — either @bikerly, @egggman or @lovingthebike — or a guest encourage bikey conversation by asking questions which the “students” then answer.
Take a look at #bikeschool on Thursday evening. You’ll find a mix of silliness and serious in 140 character tweets during the chat session.
I’ve been sworn to secrecy on the specifics, but there will be a contest announced at tonight’s #bikeschool. it involves poetry. I’ll be a judge. There’s a prize. That’s all I can say.
For more about #bikeschool, see the Official #bikeschool web page here at Loving The Bike.