Twitter is a major distraction. Late at night, plowing through a dense, clumsily-written academic article I struggle against the surety that if I only went on Twitter I could discover a beautifully argued blog post on the human cost of censorship or an incisive look into an infamous-but-changing town in Alabama. It’s a constant temptation, which is why I declared radio silence for myself last week until I got a paper done.
But Twitter, and other social media sites, are an asset in my classes. Below are 3 ways I’ve used social media to enhance my class-work this semester:
- YouTube and Opera. It’s a dirty secret, but I learn most of my pieces not by plunking a piano, but by listening to my iPod while reading the music and humming, tapping, and muttering along. However, using one recording to memorize a piece ensures that I not only memorize the music, but also the musician’s stylistic choices. No good. So I created this playlist of Handel’s glorious “Ombra Mai Fu”; with 14 different artists I could define my own interpretation with a solid foundation.
- ManyEyes and Drugs. ManyEyes, the data visualization site I’ve been constantly raving about, has a social core. On ManyEyes I use data sets others have uploaded, rate them, comment on them, and transform them into visualizations for my own purposes. To provide some empirical support for a paper I was writing last week on the experience of drug addicted inmates with incarceration-based treatment last week, I used several lovely visualizations, drawing from the uploads of several other users.
- Blogging and Intellectual Property. You’ve probably noticed, but I write about intellectual property, fanfiction, fan culture, and the history of copyright a lot. I’ve been doing this since my first month writing here, but much more so recently. That’s because I’m writing the first draft of my senior honors thesis as blog posts here. Writing here is a habit and I find myself coming to my best realizations while writing blog posts. Writing my first draft here provides me with comfortable and constant accountability.
When I see folks in my classes surfing Facebook, I’m always tempted to pelt them with erasers. It does not belong open during a lecture. But social media bans, like the one Harrisburg University perpetuated on its students last month, range from annoying to shamefully ignorant. Social media is a tool and a community–just like no university would ban pencils (which can be used for doodling and writing love-notes) or clubs (which may encourage extra-curricular involvement), I hope someday no university will think to ban social media. It has so many undiscovered uses.
“I think sometimes could I only have music on my own terms, could I live in a great city, and know where I could go whenever I wished the ablution and inundation of musical waves, that were a bath and a medicine.”–Ralph Waldo Emerson