I am fairly conservative about who I follow on Twitter simply because of time constraints. I am far past that point where activities outstrip available time.
One person that I do follow, however, is Noric Dilanchian. I do so because his twits on technology and internet issues generally lead me to interesting material.
I am still struggling with my own use of Twitter. At this point I have really narrowed it down to blog posts and the very occasional comment.
Still linked to Twitter, yesterday's post Saturday Morning Musings - for Kanani on writing actually led onto my next Express column on the Twittering of English. I will bring this on-line in the usual way Wednesday week. This extends the point made in this comment:
A remarkably small number of NSW Public Servants actually write very much: they live in a world of spread-sheets, of emails, of power point presentations; a world in which written forms (briefing note, memo, ministerial, Cabinet minute) must comply with templates and rules; a world where every word is scrutinised for message.
In writing, I am focusing not on the NSW experience as such, but on a couple of broader issues linked to the decline (as I see it) in written English. Really its about the impact of the two T's, time and technology. Some of these issue are are dogging my thinking at the moment a bit like grit in the eye. I need to wash them out.
The grit is partly personal (the time issue), partly professional (the best way to use different forms). So long as the irritation continues, you can expect more posts.
Marshall McLuhan famously coined the phrase the medium is the message; the medium affects the society in which it plays a role not only by the content delivered over the medium, but also by the characteristics of the medium itself. McLuhan was of course talking about the more traditional media, but it is even truer today.
My concern, personal and professional, is that we do not appear to have a way of classifying and disentangling effects. Instead, we focus on a symptom or a single issue and try to address it in isolation of all the things that affect it.
A very long time ago now, so long that the term knowledge management itself had still to come into vogue, Noric D and I developed a taxonomy of knowledge management. Nothing very profound, just a way of clearing the undergrowth that had grown up around concepts such as data, information and knowledge. We did so in part because of the then current nostrum that knowledge was increasing at an exponential rate. It wasn't of course. It was data and, to a lesser degree, information that was compounding.
Now I feel a new taxonomy coming on, one that clarifies and simplifies some of the confusions that surround the latest versions of internet and computer based communications and their interactions with other forms.
There is so much rubbish out there. Sounds harsh? Well, consider this.
The new technologies are meant to aid communications and the development and dissemination of knowledge, as well as social interaction.
I know of no evidence to suggest that they have in fact improved performance in either Government or business in the way claimed. The standard of public administration has clearly not improved over the last twenty years, nor has the standard of business management. All the new technology has done is allow the creation, maintenance and institutionalisation of systems that are, in fact, inherently inefficient.
This may sound some distance from my starting point. It is not.
The rub is that the amount of time now spent in communication broadly defined has begun to really squeeze the amount of time available to determine just what should be communicated. Communication has replaced content as the central concern.
Worse still, the focus on the form of communication is actually creating a growing barrier to the real creation and dissemination of new ideas. What you can say has to be tailored to the constraints of the medium. It is not so much that the medium has become the message, rather that the medium has become the limiting factor on the message.
It used to be the case that you expected the person or people on the other side to be willing to put in a little time and effort to think about the points raised. Now things are slimmed down to the point that they are simply meant to get and accept a few key points so that we can all move on.
I do not think that this is a good thing.