Just as there are always two sides to a story, there are two sides to any given Internet-user’s experience with online text. Speaking from a personal perspective, the Internet has both hindered and helped my learning, writing, and reading. As much as the Internet has distracted me, it has also kept me mesmerized and informed with articles, photographs, and videos. As difficult as it is for me to read long stretches of text on a computer screen, it has also allowed me to answer questions as soon as I formulate them in my head.
The tone in Rich’s article suggests that those of us (my generation) that do not consistently read books will be less successful than those of us who do. Specifically, it insinuates that if our generation does not read paper books, we will be disadvantaged in a job interview. In my experience and understanding, this inference is a leap. Especially in the field of communications, it is important for interviewees to be well rounded, both in hobbies and activities, and in their knowledge.
In one of my classes this week, Sir Isaiah Berlin’s essay The Hedgehog and the Fox was brought up in conversation. This essay addresses the quote by philosopher Archilochus that states, “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” Berlin proceeds to classify different philosophers as either foxes or hedgehogs. In my mind, I equate these classifications to the different styles of reading. Those who read a single book are hedgehogs, whereas those who read a multitude of different articles online are foxes. Neither is better or worse, we are just different classifications of “scholars.” However, I am curious to hear other opinions: is the breadth of knowledge more valuable, or the depth?
Certainly tweeting is not comparable to each of us writing a book, but I agree with Dibbell’s argument. Tweets should not be devalued. In the past, technology has been a symbol of progress. Twitter and other social media, though not always academic, are also forms of progress, and our generation has mastered the technology. Though I do not always feel brilliant when I am tweeting, I know that it takes more effort to articulate things concisely and capture attention than to ignore filters and ramble on for more than 140 characters. It is a strange mix of qualitative and quantitative that we have adapted to seamlessly. Does anyone else feel a sense of accomplishment when including multiple layers of information within 140 characters? I know I do, despite it taking 30 minutes to find something worth tweeting about: