Friday, 23 October 2009

The great LiDU Twitter debate!

Chris Jones put another spoke in the LiDU first seminar wheel (see post Tuesday, 20 October 2009) when he put the #LiDU twitterstream ( up on the projector at the beginning of the plenary session and claimed it was another kind of representation of the seminar. Some of the audience complained that it was not a representation of the seminar as they had experienced it and that it was distracting for those who were trying to have a discussion , which it was, as a debate then arose between those who were tweeting, and those who weren't and didn't see why such commenting had to be displayed for everyone else to read.

My own contribution to the debate was to point out that we had spent several minutes discussing a practice that was relatively peripheral to the ongoing discussion, and that this was a good illustration of the way new digital practices have a tendency to highjack educational agendas. However, I made the mistake of characterising the tweeters in our midst as 'digital natives' with the implication that the rest of us were their parents! This was not well received by at least one of the twitterati!

I've commented before on the way that 'social reporting' activities can disrupt face-to-face interactions and distort the relationships they afford (July 7th This seemed to me to be another, albeit less problematic, example of the same thing. Having said that I have to admit to being not totally displeased when we got an email from Laura Czerniewicz in Cape Town later saying she'd been reading the #LiDU tweets and wanted a copy of the paper that we referred to in our presentation! Clearly twitter has its uses, even for digital dinosaurs....


  1. How fascinating, and how illustrative an example this is. I am not a Facebook person but I have found twitter ideal for keeping in touch with the ICTs-in-education zeitgeist. Little effort ito both reading and writing, on the periphery of working life, often hugely informative.
    (and it drew my attention to some excellemt work in this case!)

  2. Just to let you know - I also followed the seminar on Twitter (at late night, in Hong Kong :-)) - certainly it is a valuable tool for remote participants. I guess tweeting at conferences is still an emerging practice and we're still working out its affordances.

    And as I was googling "tweeting at conferences", I came across this interesting paper-

  3. hi Robin - thanks for posting this up! The conversation that emerged when Chris projected the twitter stream was troubling to me for a few reasons. One was that Chris suggested that the twitter stream was *a* representation (not *the* representation) of the day, and I don't see why that was controversial.

    The second was that there seemed to be an implication that those in the room who were tweeting were disrupting the real work and debate going on at the seminar. I wasn't entirely clear if it was the discussion *about* Twitter that was seen as problematic, or the use of Twitter itself. From my perspective, the discussion in Twitter during the day was prompting comments from a variety of sources, giving people not physically present a glimpse of what was being discussed, and offering those of us who were tweeting a way to collaboratively summarise and reflect on the day - it's not like we were discussing the weather! And Chris's decision to project the backchannel during the closing session wasn't some sort of collective attempt on the part of the 'natives' (whoever they were) to hijack the agenda. I'm pretty sure Chris was the lone gunman on that one... :-)