I've been thinking and reading a lot lately about the global communication revolution (did you know that, as of this year, half of humanity owns a mobile phone?), and specifically, how it relates to young people and learning.
And I confess that I don't have anything particularly profound to say about it right now, because it's lunchtime on a Sunday and I really should be cleaning the house. But I've become very enamoured with Twitter lately (if you're not reading this on an RSS reader, you can see my current Twitter status over there -------------->), and the way it encapsulates my favourite thing about Facebook - the status update. Short, sharp, often funny, pithy little statements that let us share ideas, links, and moments in our lives. I find Facebook pretty irritating most of the time - the zombies and ninjas and growing things was fun at first, but I'm kind of over it now (except for Scrabulous. Youse are all invited to play Scrabulous with me). But it's useful, for events, or for contacting people - for networking.
And lots of people shake their heads and say "I just don't have the TIME" etc etc, but the thing is - these networks are USEFUL. We are a species that has built our success on a bedrock of community - we learn from each other, all the time. Constantly. And the bigger our network is, the more we learn. But those connections have to be meaningful, which is why today I deleted my MySpace page.
I got one, because, you know. Networking. Getting the word out there about me and my books. But I never visited it. I had a couple of hundred friends, none of whom I'd ever met. It didn't mean anything.
Here is a map of my Facebook network:
And here's my very new and petite Twitter network:
There's some crossover between them, which is fine, but they are different in two very important ways. My Facebook network is people that I know. "Friend" is a misleading word - these people are not all my friends. But I do know them all, even if I haven't face-to-face met some of them.
But my Twitter network is different. Some people that I follow - like Cory Doctorow or Merlin Mann or Barack Obama - I don't know. And they don't know me. And they don't follow me, which is fine, because why would they?
And there are some people who follow me who I don't know, and I don't follow. Twitter doesn't have to be a two-way relationship. It's also a lot more public, which allows for a much more hivemind sort of learning experience. Big news tends to ripple through Twitter like a shock wave. On Facebook it's a much more intimate - semi-private, one-on-one conversations.
What's my point? I don't have one really. I'm just really enjoying being a part of the Giant Global Communications Fambly, and watching it grow and learn and evolve.