Dumb things down or smart things up?
Posted March 21, 2014on:
According to Business Insider (BI), Singapore, Twitter might get rid of the “@” sign in front of Twitter handles to make it less intimidating to use.
BI takes a financial perspective on this because fewer Twitter adopters means fewer dollars. But how about antagonizing the millions of existing users who like the @ sign and have learnt how to be literate with Twitter?
A tool does not have to be stupefyingly easy to operate to keep users. It can draw them in, but it will not guarantee that they stay.
What keeps people going is purpose. With Twitter this might mean just staying current, chatting, learning, connecting, etc. People will learn to use a tool whatever its idiosyncrasies if they find it useful.
Now off on tangent. This reminds me of how we typically teach.
Most teachers simplify things for their students. They might be taught to present things in bite-sized chunks otherwise their learners cannot or will not swallow them. All this leads to spoon-feeding and both the teacher and the student become dependent on this strategy.
But if something is presented in its context with all its inherent complexity, this can be a meaningful and interesting challenge. Students want to learn because it is authentic or fun.
So instead of dumbing things down, I say we smart things up. This could apply to Twitter and it certainly applies to teaching.