Twitter – pros and cons

Posted on 01-08-2015

A recent essay in Changing Schools discusses the impact of social media on education policy. It got me thinking – what is Twitter good for? What is it bad for? How can it help us – not just in education and policymaking, but in our lives in general? Here are my pros and cons.

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Pro – allows you to find lots of interesting articles vs. Con – it’s a time sink
Twitter delivers a stream of relevant and important articles and research papers to your timeline. Unfortunately, you’ll be so busy reading the twitter storm that erupts around them and who said what to who about which, that you will never actually get round to reading the actual articles in the first place.

Pro – allows you to gather rapid feedback vs. Con – it’s an echo chamber
If you have any kind of new idea or question, twitter allows you to gather very quick feedback from people who have a direct interest and involvement in the field. Unfortunately, those same people will very likely be highly unrepresentative of the rest of the field.

Pro – allows you to meet interesting people vs. Con – allows you to meet horrible people
Twitter means you can meet brilliant people you have lots in common with whom you would never have met otherwise. It also means that you can meet horrible people you have very little in common with whom you would never have met otherwise.

Pro – accelerates discovery of truth vs. Con – retards discovery of truth (always assuming that ‘truth’ is a thing)
Twitter is a (fairly) level playing-field where ideas can grapple. When this happens, Milton tells us, Truth wins. On the other hand, Twitter forces ideas to be compressed and simplified. But, as Donne tells us, the Truth often isn’t simple.