You can now study Twitter and similar stuff in college, at least at DePaul:
(The course) will focus on how to confirm and evaluate reports by citizen journalists, particularly in cases of breaking news. The class will also help students learn how to sort through information on the Web for story tips and context..
Confusing medium and message.
I know I cast much derision at Twitter and similar micro-blogging outfits. I think they’re basically silly. And, despite the hype, they are not the next step in evolution.
And I really don’t care if I hear the latest rumor a hour or a day later than someone else because I choose not to twit.
Heck, if I typed this blog stuff into a computer with the expectation that it makes a dime’s worth of difference to anyone, that would also be silly on some level, but I don’t kid myself about it. Making computers do stuff is my hobby; I do this primarily for me. It keeps me off the streets and lets me blow off steam. If along the way one or two persons find my bloviating amusing or diverting or, in the case of some of my Linux-related posts, helpful, that’s a gratifying side-effect.
It certainly isn’t worth three credit hours at umpty-ump dollars per credit hour for someone else to study.
I know persons who love micro-blogs (in my geeky world, Identi dot ca is the big thing, and, no, I don’t have an account). If someone finds micro-blogs useful for keeping up with their acquaintances and with folks in whom they are interested, that’s them.
I do use Facebook, which has changed my life. But even in changing my life, Facebook was the medium. It was not the message.
I also know persons who use micro-blogs to gain publicity–for their blogs, for their podcasts, for their newspaper columns, for whatever their interests are. If a fun and interesting blog, like this one, gets more readers through Twitter, more power to it.
But as a subject in the School of Communications?
If, indeed, the purpose is to teach folks how to “sort through information,” they would do better to teach history, where analysis is valued and persons write in complete sentences.
Studying a means of communication to teach message analysis is like studying an X-ray machine to learn how to interpret X-rays.
Then, again, when you can get a Masters in Hotel Management, can a Doctorate of Twitting be far behind?