Calm, focused, undistracted, the linear mind is being pushed aside by a new kind of mind that wants and needs to take in and dole out information in short, disjointed, often overlapping bursts – the faster, the better. The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by David Carr
Perhaps it is a symptom of having an old, linear brain, but I have a great deal of difficulty in following and finding value in discussions held on Twitter. It's like having a debate in which you only get to say 10 words or so at a time, there is no speaking order, anyone can just chime in, and multiple topics are on deck at a single time. And most speakers seem to have a speech impediment.
The average number of letters in an English word is 4.5. Add the spaces between them and you get 5.5 (Aren't you glad you aren't Tweeting in German?) This give one about 25 words - fewer if you @somebodies or add #hashtags or bitly.link somewhere - to make a cogent point about what are often extremely complex topics. It's a bumper sticker mentality applied to children's futures. More than a little scary.
For example, Mr. Bretag, I admire your blog posts. I read your Metanoia regularly. I think we are sympatico on 99% of our educational values. I even am guessing that I agree with your sentiment - at least the second half - when you tweet:
@edrethink @mcleod @blueskunkblog @library_jim the fault does fall to the teachers. You have a bad PD program if you are teaching tools
But have you or anyone in this "discussion" actually added value - or have you only added a bit to the cacophony of the Internet?
At a certain age, children "parallel play" which Wikipedia defines as: where children play adjacent to each other, but do not try to influence one another's behaviour. ... It usually involves two or more children in the same room that are interested in the same toy, each seeing the toy as their own. Somehow, Twitter exchanges seem something like "parallel" conversations.
Comparing the content of tweets to the comments that followed McLeod's or my blog post on "The Unholy Trinity," I wonder where my time is best spent as one who wishes to influence readers and find ideas of substance? While still opinion and not exactly long discourse, blog comments have value. And somehow I still feel I learn the most and am compelled to think the most deeply reading thoughtful commentaries by scholars like Larry Cuban. (Read his Online instruction for K-12 (Part 1) if you haven't - a triumph of analysis over opinion.
As I am writing this, a comment was posted to my blog by Lisa Unger. She writes:
On a side note, I love being a part of a profession and PLN in which people can and do challenge each other and push each other's thinking. I think that's an important part of growth and communication. I hope we all model how to do this for our students and encourage them to do the same for each other.
I just hope as we push each other's thinking, it is done more than 140 characters at a time.
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