Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Can't hear the twitting

"Young people who want to receive phone calls but don't want their teachers or parents to catch on can download high-frequency "mosquito" ringtones. After a certain age, the older set loses its ability to hear these higher frequency tones. In this way, older people literally become tone deaf to the way younger people communicate. Talk about resonant metaphors.

The world is a-twitter over the revolutionary implications of new technologies that young people almost instinctively understand and older people just don't get. Several revolutions and half-revolutions have been ascribed to Twitter and Facebook, much as the Protestant Reformation has been linked to Gutenberg's presses and the political ferment in the former Soviet bloc partly to mimeographs, copy machines, and faxes. Early adopters of these technologies tend to be on the younger side. So we are facing yet again a confluence of youth and technology heralding large-scale political and social change.

Few analysts, of course, argue that Twitter and Facebook cause social transformation. They're only tools. But we would be foolish to ignore how these tools are shaping consciousness.Twitter both reflects our attention-deficit culture and reinforces our increasing preference for smaller and smaller niblets of information. Facebook, meanwhile, is the logical offspring of the Internet and reality television, since it facilitates communication among multiple “friends” and also allows users to expose their lives to an audience."

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