Condensed Blogging…

18 06 2009

In other news, the Cowfield will now be available on Twitter. This is for two reasons, firstly, I was curious about it. Despite my reservations with it, I thought I might test it out anyway.

Secondly, it provides me with an opportunity to write my smaller thoughts on any given news. Thoughts that do not warrant a full blog, but I would still like to throw out there…

Simply search for


Ejucashun, Ejucation, Twitter…

25 03 2009

Whilst on my daily trawl through the BBC’s webpages, I found this story and was instantly dismayed. As a history scholar, I firmly believe more should be done to encourage people to question their pasts, and to connect the present with what has gone on before. The suggestions mooted in this report indicate that this is no longer a concern for governmental officials. Instead, it seems, we should be encouraging the ‘life skills’ of how to use Twitter, or how to blog.

Lets deal with this in three parts:

1. The suggestions seem to point to the idea that using Twitter is an important thing for children to learn. It is almost certainly not just Twitter but every social networking site going, but for the sake of convenience, Twitter will be used. I have a huge problem with this. The childhood stage of life is an important one in terms of building relationships with people, or at least learning how to do so. Kids learn moral and social things, you don’t pull people’s hair, you don’t hit people, you don’t bully people etc etc. They learn this through experiencing things, through doing, and through the repercussions of their actions. Kids learn how to talk to people, how to interact with others and communicate themselves. Again, they do this through actions. If we add Twitter into this, how much of a negative effect will this have on how they learn to build relationships with other people? I would suggest it would be a massive effect. No longer would it be necessary for children to talk to each other, when they can type instead. No longer would it be fun to go and play in the park with their mates because they could be interacting online instead. Twitter would begin to destroy how kids learn, rather than giving them the skills necesary. So yes, while they may learn to type, they will stop learning how to talk.

2. The report also mentions blogging. It seems to want to encourage more children to want to use blogs as a source of information, and to take up writing their own stuff. Why? Not all people are comfortable writing in the first place, never mind in a public access site. Why exacerbate things for those who do not want to write or use blogs?

Also, I’m going to throw into this Wikipedia, which is also mentioned in the report. Apparently, according to this write up of the story, “Children [are] to leave primary school familiar with blogging, podcasts, Wikipedia and Twitter as sources of information“. Great. This though assumes one very important thing. That Wikipedia is right. Which, as we all know, it is not necessarily. Indeed we have been told on countless occasions not to use Wikipedia as a credible source for work as accuracy cannot be guarenteed.

3. It was though the final point of the BBC’s first paragraph which irked me the most though. All this is come come at the expense of history. At least, that’s the impression it gave. Further reading indicates that this is not the case, although schools will have the ability to choose which periods should be taught with the goal to be:

By the end of the primary phase, children should have gained an overview which enables them to place the periods, events and changes they have studied within a chronological framework, and to understand some of the links between them.

Great. They will not be taught about possibly two of the three most important parts of modern British history, but instead whatever takes the teachers fancy at the start of the year. Now I get that the Second World War is still part of later academic life, and, to some extent, so is the Victorian era. But what else is there of significance that can be taught? The First World War? No-one understands that, let alone primary school kids. At least the Second World War had the ‘bad guy’ in Hitler. What does World War One have? Nothing, it was fighting for the sake of fighting. I would suggest it is better to sow the seeds of curiosity when children are more receptive to ideas. They can then follow this up and develop an interest later on in their academic lives.

I really do not think that further use of Twitter, Wikipedia et al should be encouraged. Many people are already moaning that there is too much exposure to the internet and computers, so surely encouraging further exposure should be frowned upon? At a period where we are frequently told of the growing obesity problem, surely placing kids in front of another screen cannot help? I’m still not sure what was wrong with classrooms and books personally.

Just as a note, reading some of the comments about this story, this one has to be my favourite:

Im sure its just a coincidence the second world war where we fought against fascism is removed from the curriculum as our government becomes more fascist and controlling,

To cynical for my own good sometimes

The writer later admits that the Second World War is not being removed at all, but the point still made me chuckle.

Face It…

23 03 2009

So people don’t like the new Facebook layout. I don’t either. It is uncomfortable, unnecessarily busy and trying too hard to be like the rising social network Twitter. As of 10.51pm there are 1,202,743 people who dislike the new layout, with only 77,744 people actually liking it. It is good news that Mark Zuckerberg is talking to the users about the changes, but one wonders quite how much he will listen to the overwhelming tide of opinion. At least, that’s what it appears to be. According to this article there are over 175million people who use Facebook. Just over one million have voted. The rest could probably be split into two groups: the lazy and the indifferent. The indifferent ones are the people who really don’t mind the new look. They think that change has happened, and so there is no point in complaining about it.

And so I feel in a quandry about it. I have added my name to the million or so others in expressing my dislike for Twitterbook, but I realise that this is an ultimately meaningless waste of my time. I have no plans to join Twitter either, it seems odd, and slightly pointless. It also shows how we (as a whole) are becoming more addicted to social networking in cyberspace than face to face. It is seen as fine to constantly update your account, or hold conversations with other users, without it seeming sad. I disagree with this, all it shows is that the users have little or no life in that they feel they need to interact with others through the site at regular intervals. My breaking news for the evening: people still have faces, you can still talk to them. They also have telephones. You do not need to do it via Twitter in the impersonal world of cyberspace.

Anyway, back to Facebook. I use Facebook as much more than a tool to find out about others. It is a way of finding information out, planning events, and interacting with people of a like mind, without the pressure of needing to be online all the time so as to stay up-to-date with the conversation. As I said, I don’t like the way Facebook has changed recently, and genuinely thought that if enough people were against the changes, then they would either change back, or forward again. That was until I read this article. It is a really interesting piece about the real world of Facebook. By which I mean the business side of the site. About how it needs these changes to keep ahead in the business world. And about how it cannot afford to change. I for one rarely consider the financial aspect of the site before. It was simply a tool to unite people. But it is, of course, a business. One that is making Zuckerberg a fair bit of cash. However this cannot last forever, and so natural evolution of his business is inevitable. That means Facebook has to change, even if a million people disagree with the changes.