Four Corners

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Why I use Twitter to teach.

The rest of the sentence should read "amongst other things" but it wasn't as pithy.

If someone asks me; what are the defining moments within Photography over the last hundred years then I feel confident giving them a list of things to think about.

It's easy.

Even though my intimate relationship with the subject has only spanned the last twenty of those years, I've done very little else. As such, my collateral knowledge (although not without holes) is substantial enough for me to provide reference points, overviews and directions for further research.

If someone asks me what themes dominate Photographic practice over the last ten years, then I'm confident enough to refer to both my own experiences and those of my close professional colleagues over that time. I'm able to draw on the knowledge invested in my bookshelves, where along with the books, videos and DVDs are plenty of articles and magazines that I've also read and kept along the way.

When someone wants more than this, then things change fundamentally.

It seems to me that acknowledging this fact is a defining characteristic of the people that will continue to drive and be relevant in debates that concern the biggest cultural shifts in Western society since the Renaissance and Reformation.

I can't help but think that to describe the current condition of the photographic/media industry as being "in flux" sort of plays it a bit short, so to speak.

Similarly discussions about whether or not wet darkroom techniques should form the cornerstone of a good and relevant photographic education, are the sorts of questions that I expect to see on a list with item number three being; Is the Internet just a phase? - discuss.

If someone asks me; what are the current thoughts and debates driving the photographic/media industry, this year/month/week and furthermore how do I listen to and follow the drivers of these debates ? Then I'd be lying to say that I knew.

It's hard.

Yes it's pretty much all that I think about. Yes, I am constantly and actively researching and trying to understand not only what the answers to those questions are but also, I'm trying desperately to understand the damn questions themselves.

What is a Photographer ?
What is their role, right now and what will it be in the future ?
What constitutes a sustainable practice for them now and looking forward?

And .. ... then I wonder if anyone else is asking these questions ?
.... and then I wonder if there's a community of people out there that might be sourcing and sharing material to try to comprehend this moment ?

When I find information relevant to these topics I post links to the websites, pod casts, web logs, news feeds, photo galleries, articles, practitioners etc and share them with people that form the community of learners, of which I am one.

This negates the sometimes hermetic environs of academia. Twitter and other methods of social media can constitute a more dynamic and outward facing type of research, especially to the student whose hitherto notion of it was cut'n paste Wikipedia.

Likewise as part of a structure of dynamic learning methods, it also serves to embed the framework of sustainable practices that are relevant wherever the medium takes us in the future. Right now Twitter enables me to follow the thoughts, processes and debates that other media practitioners are engaging in and from this come to a more thorough and global understanding of the commonalities. ... And there is also a keystroke combination that allows you to Tweet forward into the future... .....

As I write this, a tweet from TrendTracker has fed into my Tweetdeck stream it reads :
"Twitter changes everything RT @jeanlucr @ggrosseck #socialmedia"

It probably does a better job than I just did of explaining why I Tweet.

That's annoying.

Some great starting points for the virgin Twitterer (via Mashable via Twitter) :

  1. Twitter tutorials.
  2. Why are some posts prefixed with #Hashtags?
  3. What is ReTweeting RT and how do I do it ?
  4. Five great Twitter research tools.
  5. Seven ways to approach Twitter.
  6. Five ways to get your questions answered on Twitter.
  7. 18 Professors to follow on Twitter (19 if you include me obviously)
  8. The Journalist’s Guide to Twitter.

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