I owe a huge apology to the other members of the MCN Board. We had a conference call yesterday and the topic under discussion was how to use twitter best in our upcoming annual conference. Lots of good ideas were bandied about and I know that a huge number of my colleagues use twitter in a variety of interesting ways. I confess twitter is not a terribly interesting tool or means of communication for me—but that is no reason for me to be dismissive of a tool that works well for others. And so, I believe the comment I made to my fellow board members , that I am apologizing for, is that I find tweets “staggeringly shallow.”
LET ME EXPLAIN…
I don’t find my colleagues who tweet staggeringly shallow—I find the tweets themselves are necessarily shallow because the character limitation means that those who tweet are almost invariably saying “I see this” or “Look at this” or “This is interesting” and they seldom get to the level of “I think this is important” or “I think this is insane” of “I think that you are an idiot Holly” because it’s not a good medium to do that. Tweets provide me with the “what” but not the “why.” You’ve connected with something—some issue, some person, some philosophy, some book, some idea, some news article—and you ask me to share that same sense of fun, enlightenment, disgust, eureka but you are unable to communicate to me, except on a “staggeringly shallow” level why you’ve connected with the subject of your tweet.
There are a number of my colleagues for whom I have immense respect and I follow their blogs, or their papers, or their presentations—because I need something more from them than pointers to information. The very articulate and polarizing discussion between Nina Simon, Rob Stein and other members of the staff of the Indianapolis Museum of Art is an example of what I’m talking about (http://www.imamuseum.org/blog/2009/07/27/nina-simon-response/) For me it was infinitely more satisfying to follow the well-written arguments on both sides of this issue, than to follow a series of tweets. In addition, I wonder if a tweet would have been a more interesting way to find out tabout this issue than the very satisfying two hour breakfast I had with a colleague who originally brought the discussion to my attention? I don’t think so.
Once again, my apologies to those of you I have inadvertently offended. I will defend your right to tweet, but I’m reminded of the fact that the Pied Piper of Hamlin had a lot of followers too.