Only a few weeks ago I came across an apparently strong concept in our digitalized world: PLN – a Personal Learning Network. The concept was new to me, but I guessed it had to do with finding the people, institutions, newspapers, conferences, webpages, blogs etc. you could follow on the internet to keep up with whatever you are interested in, and in that sense you create your own network of information, sources and knowledge. And as such a Personal Learning Network is the tailoring of your news feed to your needs and desires. Later I found out that Twitter can be a PLN. I was pretty new to Twitter, although I actually had had a profile for some years, but now I had started twittering and as Twitter has its own way of communicating, I had started with what I am acquainted with: connecting with and following the people and the issues I am professionally interested in. I already had begun creating my own Personal Learning Network without knowing there was a concept and a name to be aware of and grab it by.
The webpage, the links and nodes, the clicking and dragging and uploading, the interactivity and the possibilities of communication and circulation are wellestablished everyday skills and practices in my mediatized world, so that point of being on Twitter was and is no problem. And the fact that digital media is characterized by four dimensions: semiotic codes, time, place and social relations also belong to my knowledge of and experiences with web 2.0 medias:
- digital media are multimodal – in the sense that they invite to interaction with and production of texts that integrate text, sound and image.
- digital media can establish instant and mobile communication and interation with any geographical locality.
- digital media lead to increased action, participation and cooperation.
- Drotner (2008)
Twitter as a Personal Learning Network definitely build on participation culture, but as a microblogging media it not only requires digital skills and media knowledge about connecting, sharing and networking, it also requires Twitter competencies: that is to me that fresh, informal and sometimes journalistic, sometimes humourous or ironic, sometimes existentialistic twist in your sentences of 140 characters. It takes practice to get that twist. I see the possibilities of dialougue, of commenting, asking, expressing myself but I haven’t really got around to it. I am still at the informational tweet with the link. To me Twitter is the remediation of the diary, the blog, the RSS feed, the mail and the sms and has as such the form, the aesthetics and the social meaning of all these media technologies bundled up in the tweet. And this means expectations of a personalized media use, I still have to find my way into. I slide backwards and forwards from reader over reader and retweeter to tweeter.
The writer Joyce Carol Oates has it among others, I think. And I am lurking, watching the others and making mistakes while trying to figure out the code of communication and the way of writing. I reckon getting to know a new media is always this hands on experience of practicalities and media skills and media competencies you need to find out before you really have a hunch of how, when and why to use this media. And as with all good online learning my Twitter attempts have to deal with how to grasp the dialogue, the involvement, the support and the control in this media (Coomey and Stephenson 2001). To me Twitter is about what it is to live in a mediatized world: at once keeping up with the old media and coping with the inevitable situation of having to get to know new platforms, new media, new codes, new contexts. Or as Katie Clinton, Henry Jenkins and Jenna McWilliams put it in “New Literacies in an Age of Participatory Culture” (2013):
The history of media change throughout the 20th century suggests that one medium does not displace another, but rather, each adds a new cultural layer, supporting more diverse ways of communicating, thinking, feeling, and creating than existed before. But each new medium also disrupts old patterns, requiring us collectively and individually to actively work through what roles different forms of media are going to play in our lives.
Clinton. Katie, Henry Jenkins and Jenna McWilliams (2013): New Literacies in an Age of Participatory Culture In: Henry Jenkins and Wyn Kelley (eds.): Reading in a Participatory Culture, Teachers College Press/National Writing Project
Coomey, M., & Stephenson, J. (2001). Online learning: it is all about dialogue, involvement, support and control-according to the research. Teaching and learning online In: Pedagogies for new technologies: 37-52.
Drotner, Kirsten (2008): Informal Learning and Digital Media: Perceptions, Practices and Perspectives In: Kirsten Drotner, H. Sigsgaard Jensen & K. C. Schrøder (eds.): Informal Learning and Digital Media, Cambridge Scholars Publicing: 10-28