I have neglected my blog and lifestream a bit because I have been immersed in visual artifact creation.
[Interesting aside: the work of artifact didn't naturally flow into my lifestream because once 'in deep' I didn't think to digg or reference my sources and wanderings. One of two things need to happen for lifestreaming to be a real record of my learning journey - either I get better at placing my learning into a archive-able form (like tumblr or delicious) or lifestreams have the functionality of working with your browser history. The former is unappealing as it would seem artifical and break the flow, but the latter would be pretty cool as long as I could filter it of course.]
Anyway I thought I would make a quick post about Twitter before I forget what my main breakthroughs were. When I started this course I was a bit anti Twitter, but eager to give it a go as so many people had bought into it. My original reservations we that all the tweets I received were boring. Not individually, but as a stream. I like Facebook status updates as they are part of something bigger – like the chorus in a Greek tragedy. But Twitter is just… all chorus. As much as I tried, I couldn’t find a place for it in my online life – it didn’t add value.
Now I understand it a little better. I ‘get’ how hashtags work, and why we might retweet, reply to, and direct message. However my improved understanding has simply given me more confidence to eliminate it as a contender in the ‘must have’ social networking compendium that our lives are undoubtedly gravitating towards.
Twitter only really works if you don’t have anything to say. Once you have something meaningful to share 140 keystrokes just doesn’t cut it. Yes you can attempt to be succinct, but 140 keystrokes requires you to do this to the point of glibness. Valid and interesting points loose their clarity and relevence. They even loose their appeal, and for me appeal is an important point of sharing anything on the net, where messages must be appealing in order to get (and retain) an audience. Yes I can follow bloggers who will kindly tell me about their new post thanks to the shortened url and phrase combo, but by the time they have tweeted their update (and I have read their tweet) I already know they have posted because my Google Reader / Feedly combo has told me.
Also, in the context of our #ededc experiment I live on the other side of the world from my fellow tweeters. Therefore when I am chirping away they are sleeping and vice versa. At times I felt like a budgie talking to my mirror (and if I want to talk to myself I can do that at length in my blog). Twitter seems to straddle synchronous and asynchronous communication. Tweeting to me felt like getting up in the morning, reading a really interesting Skype convo that some friends had had last night and then trying to join in. Yes I got responses to my tweets but they often got buried so what could have turned into an interesting discussion on a forum, became a bit of a “look at what we could have talked about” anti-climax. I would also find a very interesting response to a previous tweet and rummage through the past several days looking for what it was responding to because we didn’t always use the ‘reply to’ function or our replies were complex and related to several tweets, or an emerging theme. If you could slide tweets into past, more pertinent, points in the convo it would be helpful. Google Wave will, I believe, offer this kind of structuring.
So although I enjoyed this part of our Digital Cultures course Twitter isn’t for me. But this is a valuable lesson. I get it now, and I still don’t want it.
This ability to eliminate is an important skill, and one we can all aim to teach our students. As citizens of this brave new new digital lifeworld we are being bombarded by more and more tools that offer new ways of connecting and communicating. Selecting the ‘right’ ones sometimes feels as scary as choosing the right stocks for your portfolio, yet we can’t use them all so the ability to test, evaluate and reject (without anxiety) is going to be valuable.
This little budgie is ready to hang up her mirror.