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Friday, August 27, 2010

Micro blogging: destroying our legacy for the future?

Paul Carr at TechCrunch wonders if micro blogging via Twitter and Facebook are leading to such a distillation of our lives that future generations will have no legacy. And more prosaically, we will have no memories to draw on for our autobiographies. "By constantly micro-broadcasting everything, we’ve ended up macro-remembering almost nothing," he writes.

I don't think you can blame micro blogging for this state of affairs. It all started when Outlook came along and we stopped using diaries to log our appointments. I had long stopped keeping a diary as a journal, but I still have all my office diaries from the 90's and I get instant recall just by seeing the entries of what where and when.

I'm not going to be able to do that with Outlook but fortunately I have this blog. If you only use Twitter or Facebook then yes you are asking for trouble if you want an archive for the future. Facebook has launched a foray into blogging and now has networked blogs but the painstaking nature of writing a blog, the upkeep and promotion, mean that a lot of people will never bother.

My worry is that we are breeding a generation of cyborgs. People with no original or creative thought. Students routinely plagiarise the web when writing their coursework and taking their exams. The controls against this are minimal. Add to this the destruction of the English language, spelling and punctuation, perpetuated by constant texting and tweeting, and it doesn't speak to me of a heritage of literature for the future in the way that we had Shakespeare, Milton, Chaucer and so on.

But everything goes round in circles and eventually becomes trendy again. I firmly believe we'll see a return to paper and pen, letters and journals. I am sure that the pleasure of writing with a fine fountain pen on pristine paper will eventually be rediscovered by all those who have never done it. 


Anonymous said...

Contrary to Paul’s argument surrounding our diminishing macro-memory, I think micro blogging would serve as a good trigger to past memories, much like smells and sounds can provoke emotional reactions.

After a quick Google search, apparently the process of recollection of small events can lead to the part of our brain called the ‘limbic system’ which in turn interprets the information and makes us 'aware' of it and any associated memories (i.e. not just the micro, but also the macro).

The following link also discusses the evolutionary processes of information consumption and when put in that context, it doesn’t seem too dismal a future after all – just different tools for different purposes...

Anonymous said...

I agree with you Gail which is why I recently tweeted "Are you sick of Twitter yet?" I am, sort of. Maybe I just need to follow some different people (ha!) but I'm getting tired of reading women tweet about their kids and what they had for dinner. I find the narcissism exhausting. Blogging can be that way as well, but as you say, it is much more of a diary the person can look back on. There is also much more room for creativity and thoughtfulness.

Last week I received a postcard from my dear friend Denise who just moved back to England. It made me so happy to hold that postcard in my hand, knowing how far it travelled and that Denise sat down and took the time to right me such a personal note. I will have that postcard forever but her emails will disappear. I really hope that we return to the charm of letter writing. I miss it.

Sukh said...

I don't think the availability of mass information on the web is a bad thing at all. Sure there are students who will copy reams of information off the web, but they don't all do it. I didn't when I was a student.

After all, it's no different from people plagiarising from books/reports before the proliferance of the internet, only meant that they had to type the copied text in themselves instead of using the trusty CTRL+C/CTRL+V.

Completely disagree with the comment about people not having creative thoughts, they are, just in different ways. Take a look at The Creators Project - some of the things that have been created with technology (and ultimately shared via social media and micro-blogging) is astounding. Change is good!