Twitter, Facebook & Intelligence… I wish I could avoid this topic

September 7, 2009

@contrafactos Facebook ‘enhances intelligence’ but Twitter ‘diminishes it’, claims psychologist http://ow.ly/omSc
I sort of wish I didn’t have to engage in this one, but I know that it’s going to be the source of a lot of discussion. The main premise is that time spent on Twitter requires very little in the way of deep thought processes (140 character tweets and all that) so time spent on Twitter is not training your brain to do anything beyond the superficial.

Here are my thoughts. Anything can be used badly. It’s about how you use it!

I follow people on my main Twitter account based on their interest in education and many of their posts are links to articles or blog postings that I might miss otherwise. I read them and think about them. I retweet the important ones. Sometimes I blog about what I’ve learned. It’s a very deep experience for me. I have learned an incredible amount and feel more up-to-date in my field than I did “before Twitter”.

My other use of Twitter (different account) is to promote a local community farmers’/craft market. I follow local people. They post about entertainment, new restaurants, galleries and events in the community as well as what’s going on politically and more. They also mention that they ate a bagel for breakfast. I skim the bagel messages and follow-up on the rest. I am aware of more local news than ever before.

And if I happened to have befriended folks on Facebook for either of the same reasons, then sure, Facebook would have a positive impact. As it is, Facebook is where I do much lighter stuff… family photos and a bit of gossip.

So surely it’s about more than the platform here. The argument seems about as valid as saying you learn more from reading hardcover books than from paperbacks. Doesn’t it depend on which book?

Maybe the complete research report discusses context a bit more thoroughly than the newspaper article, which is all I’ve seen of this so far (and I know that journalists don’t always have the skills or opportunity to present research in the most meaningful way…)

But I do expect this will be a “trending topic” for a while 🙂