Posts Tagged ‘Guardian’

The Budget: Twitter ye not

April 21, 2009

Recently I’ve been making use of Twitterfall, a tool that helps you keep track of what’s been said on a particular subject, across the Twitter world. Basically, it allows you to monitor a particular set of hashtags (#), which twitterers use to identify the subject of a posting. The ‘fall’ part describes the way in which posts with the monitored tag arrive from Twitter – they visually drop down a window on your screen.

Yesterday there was great merriment across the blogosphere over the Telegraph’s experiment with hosting a twitterfall window within their own webpages which was set to monitor the hashtag #budget. The problem was that large numbers of people saw this as an unmoderated way to add content to the Telegraph website by posting all sorts of nonsense to Twitter and simply adding the #budget tag. The Guardian’s media blog in particular had enormous fun at their rival’s expense, and I particularly liked the spoof comment that Barclays had agreed to pay all our personal tax bills.

Unfortunately, the general consensus seems to be that Telegraph staffers are a bunch of techno-illiterates who don’t understand the world of Twitter. But wait a minute, isn’t this a bit harsh? Surely this shows they believe in the power of the crowd to pull together and perform better than any one individual? Perhaps the Telegraph deserve some respect for hoping that people would utilise some personal self-restraint and actually post something of value about the budget. All this demonstrates is that Andrew Keen is right – we’re really not ready for an ‘unedited’ future.

Reality literacy

January 20, 2009

My comrade in editorial arms, Gaynor Backhouse, is quoted in today’s Guardian about the long term future of higher education. She puts forward an idea that we have been debating in the office recently: reality literacy.

Where the current concern of educators is digital literacy – the ability to judge the provenance of information on the Web – in 20 years’ time the problem is more likely to be connected to our ability to judge what is real. In the Guardian piece Gaynor makes the point that we are likely to see the widespread use of virtual reality and virtual worlds in education. The technologies that support this – advanced displays and haptic (touch) interfaces – will make today’s VR, like Second Life, look positively clunky. We may even have a situation in which we have to train the young in reality literacy – discerning real life from virtual worlds.


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