Does Tweeting Inhibit Our Necessary Bad Ideas?


April 16, 2017

Does tweeting cause us to write more, or write less?

Is tweeting a catalyst for exploring ideas in greater depth on different platforms, or does creating on Twitter substitute for longer form writing?

My worry is that tweeting cannibalizes other forms of public writing.

I can see the argument that tweeting is the gateway drug of the social media world.  

The low-threshold in energy and time of creating most tweets - although I know the best tweets take great thought to craft - gets our voice and ideas out into the larger conversation.  

The problem - or at least the worry - is that the medium is too constrained for ideation.  

There is not the breathing room in 140 characters to figure out what one is thinking. Writing and discovery are synonymous. The only way to make sense of anything is to try to write about it.  

Most of what we write will be bad. The only way to have any good ideas is to have lots and lots of bad ideas.  Twitter seems a poor mechanism for the creation of our necessary bad ideas.

Ideally, writing for understanding occurs within a community of practice. Public writing is public conversation. We read what each other thinks, and then our writing builds on the work of others.

Can this conversation happen in a platform like Twitter?  

How often does tweeting devolve from conversation to performance?

Some of the best higher ed thinkers seem to be able to move across platforms. They tweet and they blog. They give talks and they participate in panels.  They hold web conversations and they write long think pieces.  

For these thinkers working at the intersection of higher ed change, learning, and technology - Twitter is another tool in the tool belt. They use Twitter to make connections and to nurture a network. Tweeting is an open annotated record of what they find interesting as it crosses their screens.

Are they, the people who layer tweeting on to a robust practice of writing and public communication, edge cases?

Could it be true that for most our community that Twitter is replacing other forms of public writing?

Could time spent reading tweets be substituting for time reading longer pieces written by our colleagues?

This is one area where I’d love to be wrong.  It would be excellent if Twitter was catalytic to our higher ed conversation.  

I’m fairly certain that there must be a robust scholarship of social media.  Can anyone point us to some good sources?

What is your relationship with - and worries about - tweeting and Twitter?



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