Twitter Won’t Make Us All Stupid
Today, Barry Ritholtz wrote a small piece where he wonders if Twitter will make us all dumber. He writes,
I occasionally use it. I appreciate the instantaneous communication of micro bursts of info, but cannot help but wonder if its part of a culture of dumbing everything down. All nuance, all subtlety, all fine lines of discussion get lost in 140 characters.
Barry is someone whom I have tremendous respect for, and having seen him lecture on technology, think he understands the web, but I believe that he is wrong on this.
One characteristic that is unique to human intelligence is writing. Many animals talk, but only humans write. Compared to verbal communication, written communication requires an extra layer of thought and contemplation. The written word has shown over time as a superior medium through which to pass information and knowledge. From the printing press to the internet, it has been a catalyst for the evolution of intelligence.
So while a tweet is not the same thing as a blog post or essay, it still is written communication and allows for a deeper level of thought beyond its verbal equivalent. Moreover, Twitter is more accessible to the masses as it takes less time and is more conversational.
While he is correct that there are some levels of knowledge and understanding that cannot fit in 140 characters, Twitter gets more people writing (thus thinking) and in the long run I believe that makes us smarter.