Sunday, January 30, 2011

Why I use Twitter.

Just now, "educational technologist Mike Bogle" (or maybe just Mike Bogle) deleted his Twitter account, and wrote this excellent blog post describing why.

I posted a comment on his piece, and because it touches on the whole reason I believe (or want to believe) that Twitter is valuable, I'm posting a slightly edited version of my original reply to Mike here:

I’m determined to believe that the point of Twitter is precisely to break online identities out of professional or special interest silos, and give us the chance to interact as holistic individuals. I say I’m determined to believe it, in the sense that I think that’s what it can be, and maybe should be: but I remain to be convinced that’s what it is.

Ultimately I think that the way forward for education lies in finding ways to engage whole people in learning interactions, not just the narrow slices of ourselves we choose to portray as our identities in any given context.

Anyway, that’s my excuse for subjecting my twitter followers to a random mix of professional links to education and music articles, political commentary, word games, jokes (often ribald) and the odd tirade about the Australian rugby team. I know that mix sits oddly with those who started following me at (say) an education conference.

But that’s who I am.

I do wonder why we try so hard to present edited versions of ourselves , and I’m also convinced it has something to do with the level of disengagement currently endemic in Western education at all levels. Among students and teachers, if we are honest about it. It’s a crisis of relevance; of failure to see the point (and here I mean the human point, the existential point) of learning; and I think that’s because we don’t connect with whole people.

Twitter lends itself to this role because of its intrinsically democratic structure: all tweets have equal place in the timeline, and the 140 character limit forces the dominant to "yield the conch" to the next speaker in a delightfully leveling way.

I guess I could advocate a similar argument for how Twitter and other social media are potentially transforming journalism, politics ... but the bow I have drawn is already long enough.

Sorry to use your comment section as a rant opportunity, but I think you have hit on something very important.