Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Microblogging: another perspective

A Tale of 140 Characters, Plus the Ones in Congress Gallery
By Dana MilbankWednesday, February 25, 2009

As with all other good things, it may be possible to have too much twitter...or maybe not. Upon reading this article my first reaction was to pass judgement on the legislators who sent out tweets throughout President Obama's address to the Congress last night. I likened it to an experience I had in Second Life last week when I went to the NPR Talk of the Nation Science Friday show. Instead of listening to the interviews, I found myself distracted by the sidebar conversations, some related to what was being said on the stage and some not, going on between others in attendance. My thought was there was no way the twittering legislators could be taking in the content of the President's speech and how disrespectful to him that was. But then I considered that I was watching his speech on TV and I wasn't getting all the details either because I also had a Wild game on in the corner of the screen, albeit muted.

Why would I do that? Why would I allow myself to be distracted by a mere hockey game during such an historic hour. It is because I knew I would be able to get that speech again in any number of alternate formats after the fact. Understanding that I wouldn't be able to take it all in anyway, I made the decision to not pay full attention during the event, instead resolving to read it later when I could fully absorb and analyse its meaning. Maybe this is what the legislators concluded as well. Maybe to them it was more important to be there and to share the experience with others than to listen in rapt attention.

Kathleen Kennedy Manzo wonders "if we gave those twittering lawmakers a quiz on last night's speech right after it ended if they would pass it." I'll bet they would get a number of questions wrong but I am not going to judge them harshly. For myself, I have learned that if I want to listen to Science Friday I should turn on the radio or download the podcast and when I want network and explore, I'll log into Second Life.

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