Technology I Don’t Use: Twitter and Facebook

April 17, 2011 § 1 Comment

A good friend of mine, Steve Laniel ( ), wrote an OP-ED for the Boston Globe last year entitled Information Age? No, it’s the Chatter Age. The idea is that the chatter from Facebook, Twitter, traditional media, and other sources combined with a trend toward short, frequent updates of info to our always-in-hand, Internet-connected devices, creates enough noise that the distraction greatly outweighs the tidbits of value.

It’s hard to argue his point: Facebook is certainly a distraction. Short, frequent, and obsessive news updates that don’t provide new details about a story have no value other than to contribute to an addiction – a pleasure gimmick. There’s no deep or active learning going on here. It’s just noise.

This week, I attended the Blue Ribbon Schools Blueprint for Excellence Institute. David Warlick, the Keynote speaker on Friday, used KnitterChat for backchannel conversation during his keynote. The reaction of many first-time backchatterers was mixed:

Several people began with a gratuitous “hello.” Then there were the off-topic, “I ate a bagel this morning” and “what’s for lunch” comments.

Next, people started contributing the presentation and voicing their concerns about the distractions of a backchannel. The chatter on the backchannel moved to a discussion of the potential distractions and benefits of the backchannel itself.

A chainsaw is an incredible tool. With it and a little fuel, you can cut down a tree in seconds. You can use that tree for firewood to stay warm for days or months. You can also cut off your hand, arm, or leg. It’s not the tool but how you use it.

So it is with these social media tools. Rather than picking up a chainsaw and slashing indiscriminately at a forest of information, we can use these tools intentionally and appropriately.

Some people will still use these social media tools to fuel their addictions – they are addicted to distractions. I chose to use these tools to fuel my own active learning, and also share the tools and strategies with classroom teachers to help them teach a new generation in a modern learning environment.

Until this week, though I embrace many technology tools, I had been avoiding tools like Twitter and Facebook because of the potential for distraction they might pose.

I am now forming a strategy for how to use these tools to my benefit. My goal: I want to become a more active learner – not just part-time, but full-time. As I learn, I want to contribute. I want to share new teaching strategies with other teachers, and coach them; facilitate the use of these strategies and tools.

This blog is a step in that direction. I have also started culling a list of blogs for Educational Technology which I am committing to reading daily in lieu of some of the more senseless blogs I already read (and also in lieu of TV!). I will begin actively commenting on those blog entries, and blogging my own responses, thus replacing my former passive approach to Internet reading.

I’m going to pick up Twitter (follow me @mytakeonit ) and see if I can use it to connect with other like-minded educators around the world. I am going to use these tools to develop a curriculum for my own continued education.

I am going to learn, improve, reflect, and the challenge myself again.

Please join me.

P.s. I’m still not so hot on Facebook.

Oh, one more thing: The facts presented in my blog may not be accurate, and the opinions belong to those who state them. Don’t believe something I say? Look it up. Don’t like something I say, let’s talk about it. Leave me a comment.


§ One Response to Technology I Don’t Use: Twitter and Facebook

  • Trevor says:

    I dig Twitter in theory because they have a better track record on privacy than Facebook. If more of my friends were on Twitter than I’d use it pretty much exclusively. Every so often I pop over to Diaspora to see how its coming along.

    Actually reading this reminded me to check it out. It actually seems like its getting close.

    Doesn’t exactly seem like its “feature rich” at this point, but at least its solid. Maybe sitting at home tonight I’ll go ahead and sign up. (Feel like hosting a node?)
    I also appreciate that twitter’s brevity in its character limit seems to lend itself to privacy. You’re not there to find out everything there is to know about a person, or to meet new people (at least I’m not). I’m not friends with anyone on Facebook that I haven’t at least met or admire in real life (certain celebrities/bands/politicians/etc), and nor do I hope to be. (Maybe if I was single I might feel different, but I’m not.) As a result, there’s no real purpose to putting out a sufficient range of information such that someone could introduce themselves to me without meeting me first. The info that’s up there is for people who already know me and who I don’t mind them keeping up on what’s going on with me.
    As such, Twitter feels a bit more natural to me as a social network. I don’t really care to share more than 140 characters of data, for the most part. If I do, I can point people over to a WordPress blog.

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