I’m spending the week at USC. It is a much welcomed visit to Los Angeles (where I was born and raised) and an exciting chance to see what is going on at a great journalism school.
Geneva Overholser and company have me running around to all kinds of classes to talk about Spot.Us and the Web in general. What is great about these opportunities is that it forces me to think critically about what is and is not important for a young journalist to know – and how to articulate that.
I’m often asked something akin to the following:
My answer is unequivocally yes. But the interesting reason is why.
A journalist should sign up for Twitter, (Facebook, start a blog, Seesmic, 12seconds.tv, Slideshare.Net, etc, etc, etc) not because it is TWITTER – but rather because they need to learn the vocabluary of what Twitter is.
Lets not get caught up in the buzz that is Twitter, Seesmic, etc, etc – or the latest cool website. Lets not confuse the
medium for the message.
The Anecdote That Explains It All.
A few weeks ago while trying to make a point to a young journalist I asked:
To which he responded:
I had to laugh….
In 2002/3 Friendster WAS social networking. It was the first and only major social networking site. Everyone was on it. Your parents were on Friendster.
It subsequently went the way of the Dodo bird. So the question is – do I consider my time spent on Friendster a waste?
No – and here is why.
When MySpace came out – I knew instantly what it was, how to register, how to engage with it, etc.
When I grew out of the age demographic for MySpace and joined Facebook, I knew exactly what it represented, how to play around on it, how to
engage with people, etc.
And potentially when I find something else to replae Facebook (Open Social?) I’ll know exactly how to engage.
What I absorbed was the vocabulary, best practices and potential uses.
I’m not predicting that Twitter will collapse (although it came close), but even if it did – my time on it wouldn’t be a waste. Twitter represents
a different kind of vocabulary. It is the “Friendster of lifestreaming” – which is to say; the first major player on the lifestreaming scene.
That is why it’s important to sign up on Twitter. Not because I think Twitter is the coolest website ever – but because the activities that
one can take are NOT going to disappear. As Chris Anderson said: Social networking is an activity – not a destination. Don’t get
distracted by the site – but understand what it represents. And the only way to learn is to do.