Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Twitter and passing notes in class

One of the things I noticed at the Shock of the Old 2009 conference ('official' and 'unofficial' hashtags) was the largish number of participants sending tweets during presentations. The "backchannel" has found, or so it seems, a new technology.

Idea for paper: More than just passing notes in class?: tweets as new literacy practice. (my online survey)

My initial suspicion was that sending tweets 'remediates' the analogue textual practice of passing notes in class. However, I think there's more to it than that.

My hunch is that it's being used as a space to quibble, query and demur, to have off-stage dialogues with like-minded colleagues or contacts either present in the lecture theatre or elsewhere. So Twitter is a another means, potentially, of breaking the broadcast/monologic format of the conference paper and providing additional opportunities for comment and dialogue.

I think it's also - and some of the comments on the LDHEN JISC mailing list almost confirm this hunch - a space for the performance of identities at odds with those expected of colleages at a conference (e.g. for flippant, dismissive or bitchy commentaries that can't easily be made public via a comment or question to the speaker).

I’m coming from a position that views literacy practices as complex social acts that can be inclusive or exclusive. Web 2.0 doesn’t automatically = inclusive/democratic.

On the one hand I can see how the use of Twitter exemplifies one form of ‘networked participatory culture’ (Jenkins) by enabling new forms of conversation; on the other hand I can see how the technology provides a platform for opportunistic gossiping which can shut out other participants (e.g. those who are not Twitter users).

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