Reports, love ‘em or hate ‘em there doesn’t really seem to be any escape from ‘em and, they are generally very long, text based and in my case, printed out and hang around in my handbag for far too long without being read
One of the things that always strikes me is why we so often report about new technologies in the time honoured, text based format and don’t use the technologies we are reporting on. A case in point being this morning when I printed out a 150 page review of “current and developing international practice in the use of social networking (Web 2.0) in higher education”. At this point I should add a disclaimer -this post is not passing any judgement on the content of or the authors of this report. What really struck me this morning was the conversation that took place around a comment I made via twitter and the ideas of back-channels and participation and feedback.
So if you will, follow me back in time to about 9am this morning when I posted this:
“is it just me or does a 150 page report on web2.0 technologies miss the point on some level . . .” A couple of tweets later Andy Powell came in with “yes, totally – why don’t people explicitly fund a series of blog posts and/or tweets instead?” Good point – why not indeed? Which was answered to an extent by this: “ostephens @sheilmcn Depends what the point of the report is. It could conclude that Web 2.0 does not significantly add to the value of communication”. A few more tweets later it was this response that really got me thinking “psychemedia @sheilmcn one fn of a report is so that many people can be part of ‘that conversation'; but here it’s easy to be part of a wide conversation”. Yes, that is true, but is is the ‘right’ conversation? I seemed to have started tapped into something but the responses weren’t really about the report. I wonder if someone actually related to the report had posted a comment specifically looking for feedback how much of a conversation there would have been.
To some extent I know that in the small twittersphere I inhabit, there would probably have been a lot of comment and conversation. However with the proliferation of twitter extensions I’m starting to become a bit worried that the serendipitous nature of the tool maybe about to be destroyed by people trying to organise it, and use it in a more structured way. I wonder how often would I take the time to take part in organised twitter conversations?
I guess this kind of brings me back to an analogy related to web2.0 and education. I’ve certainly heard many times that the “kids” don’t want to use facebook in school because it’s part of their “real” life and not part of their education; and when we as educators try to integrate social software we fail, because the kids have moved on to the next cool thing. So if we to try to use twitter in a structured way will we all have moved onto the next big thing? I guess on that note I should actually now go and read that report and get twittering.