Tuesday 16 February 2010

Big Question: The twitter generation: skimming to get content? No thx, I am a struting!

In the Big Question launched by Tony Karrer this month, he wonders how we look at instruction in an information snacking culture of skimming content. With twitter, mobile msn, and sms rushing through our lives, and knowledge growing exponentially, one could wonder if we pick up content in a more and more abridged form and whether this is affecting our learning. I think it is, so I am turning down once and awhile and I am … strutting through education. Staying alive!

The way in which I point towards interesting content has been changing, I used to comment more, but nowadays I just retweet or ‘like’ and ‘digg’ stuff more often. This omits me from adding personal remarks to the content I am redirecting. The fact that I do not add possible question marks to the redirected content means that I do not go through all the processes Bloom so eloquently described. With redirecting I skip the highest digital learning level, namely: creating. So I wonder if I am selling myself short with this byte-size content assimilation.

I found myself rushing through much more than just those short messages, I was skimming articles, skimming posts, skimming social media, skimming newspapers, skimming… everything but my milk. And although it gave me the idea that I was doing things much more efficiently as I was speeding up in this speeding age, I also found myself becoming more stressed.

So is speed reading and content snacking the way to go? Sometimes I feel it is very save to take this option: personal life, social contact, procrastination… but for my professional life I have come to a turning point, I have started to slow read again. Now, I did not yet go to tortuous mode yet, but I am aiming to get there. For did not the tortoise outrun the hare in the end?

Snacking content might well be the way our brain processes content anyway, in that case we do not even need to care, but on the other hand a lot of educators expressly tell us that narratives add to a deeper understanding. So how do we link skimming content with a deeper understanding of that same content? Lots of questions, but I still belief narratives and in-depth reading add to long-term understanding, even if we live in an ever rapidly changing world, understanding needs to account for something? And so I feel instruction should also allow people to take time and know they do not need to rush or skim. Taking time is okay.

So instead of running, I decided from this year onward to strut content. Struting in a new world Grand Theft auto IV style.


  1. Skimming and strutting - I like it! Maybe you have to do both. Tools such as Twitter and RSS feed readers are useful for enabling access to, and managing, multiple streams of content. Yet in developing a critical practice we need to identify those key sources which require a more considered and reflective approach (such as this blog post!) Its not just about individual cognition, but how these variables in volume negotiation affect our critical feedback systems; how we interact, discuss and disseminate.

  2. hi Andy, I like your comment and it there is indeed much more to it then individual cognition. Thanks for your idea.