Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Is using new tools for old things acceptable?

Here's what's happened:
  1. Jennifer Dorman posted her reply to Will Richardson's post about the effects/changes brought about by twitter.
  2. Will posted a twit saying he had finished writing a column and was heading to lunch. He added that he didn't know why he was writing what he was writing.
  3. I responded to Will asking if twitter made him feel more connected and why he would share those bit of info. outside the twitterverse. (Will did not respond because he is not following my twits. But...)
  4. Vicki Davis (who is a friend on twitter) twitted to Will saying he twitted to make our day and "Who knows - why do we write anything in here?"
  5. I twitted to Vicki asking if twitter provided a sense of community and likened it to chatting with the postman about neighborhood events.
  6. Vicki responded she learns about breaking events "microblogging and aggregated from the 'horse's mouthes'."
  7. I responded to Vicki with the question, and I'm putting this out there for everyone, "Does twitter serve a purpose/need/interest that was previously unmet?"
This all leads to the question that serves as the post title and the bulk of my response to Jennifer. Are blogging, skyping, twittering, etc. really new? Are we doing new things or doing old things on a bigger scale? I can't think of a 2.0 tool that doesn't do something old in a new way.

blogging = letters/e-mail (we can count e-mail as old school now, right?)/book or prof. journal publishing/message board
skype = phone calls/having coffee with friends
twitter = chatting up the postman/getting the news at the barbershop (I grew up in the country, it really happens.)/eavesdropping
aggregator = periodical subscriptions

The tools are new, the functions are the same.

What then, is the big deal?

Jennifer Dorman is in Pennsylvania.
Will Richardson lives in New Jersey and was twitting from Wisconsin.
Vicki Davis is in Georgia
I am in Florida.

Scale, diversity, depth.

Using new tools toward old means is not inherently a negative practice. I can participate in an informal global conversation (scale) with professionals from varied backgrounds/mindsets (diversity). That conversation with thinkers outside my immediate real-world environment bring a diversity of thought I would not have encountered having the same conversation with the same people in the same environment. New perspectives push my thinking in new directions (depth) and drive me look at issues more deeply. That augmented thinking is then taken back to my real-world environment and integrated into the conversation, thus providing my local learning community with new material.

This provides a pathway to ownership for hesitant digital immigrants.

More later.

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cliotech said...

I do think that many of these communication mediums are really providing new outlets for the conversations that could occur locally if people had the geographic opportunity to meet each other. It is not reinventing conversation but augmenting the ways that people can communicate. It is connecting people who would very likely never have forged any sort of a relationship without the technological facilitation.

I think that the power of conversation cannot be marginalized - we are social creatures and learn through interaction with others. Anything that facilitates critical conversations among engaged people is welcomed addition to our conversational repertoire. For many people, social interaction is what draws them into the Internet. Once there they are exposed to a wealth of resources and are more likely to incorporate such tools with the feedback of others.

Just some thoughts . . .

Mr. Chase said...

Good thoughts. As usual, they create more questions:
1) At what point do we say that we've reached as many of the early adopters as we're going to reach and start to facilitate the path building for those who haven't found there way to these tools on their own?
2) Is there a pressure internal or external to make this about more than communication? Sometimes I feel as though we're making the tools shinier or more complex than they are and then find ourselves frustrated that others are intimidated.
Good thoughts...

Kristin Hokanson said...

Jen said Anything that facilitates critical conversations among engaged people is welcomed addition to our conversational repertoire. For many people, social interaction is what draws them into the Internet.

I agree with Jen but I think part of what draws me to these new tools is that I don't have a lot of the kind of conversation locally and the local folks with whom I do connect I met through their interest in the tools...I think the conversation becomes EASIER and people become more VALIDATED as a result of being able to see, hear, and experience change that is occurring around the world. I mean how else would 2 people ever be able to exchange information at 9 pm randomly without skype, twitter,etc....

Kristin Hokanson said...

and 2 more cents ....
I think the PROBLEM is that we make the tools shiny instead of encouraging folks to use what THEY need to be successful...
I need these tools to learn new things now... perhaps someone else's needs may be met using a simpler tool. It is not about knowing HOW to use the tools it is about knowing WHEN to use the tools that is really important

Vicki A. Davis said...

I think Kristin has a great point about having the conversation.

To me, now that more people are blogging, it helps to have a mandatorily brief overview of the most important things from the most important people on my list. Most write about the meaningful, important things going on, however, sometimes other things are in there, it is fine too because reading a few words about someone's dinner is much less bothersome than reading 1000 words about it -- and it lets me see what's most important. I hit Twitter before my RSS aggregator and even on some days I don't have time to read blogs. I always twitter now because it connects me and gives me more meaning per word at this juncture. Thanks for this great conversation!