A recent claim that micro blogging on Twitter and watching You Tube were likely to weaken your “working memory”. Dr. Tracy Alloway, a psychologist from the University of Stirling in Scotland, has extensive studies in working memory and believes it to be far more important to success and hapiness than IQ. Her studies indicate that the instant nature of texting, Twitter and watching videos on Youtube was not healthy for working memory. Sorta like what we do when we channel surf on the tv.
”On Twitter you receive an endless stream of information, but it’s also very succinct,” said Dr Alloway. ”You don’t have to process that information.
”Your attention span is being reduced and you’re not engaging your brain and improving nerve connections.”
However playing video games that involve planning and strategy, and solving Sudoku puzzles seem to train working memory according to Dr. Tracy. And she states that the effects are similar to keeping up with your friends on Facebook.
I can see the attention deficit syndrome where that stream of information can be polarizing at times. But with all due respect to the Dr. I feel that there is a misunderstanding of how people are using these “tools” as a means to communicate. Micro-blogging is not a be all end all. It is a form of communication that is part of and integrated into our social communities. To the Dr.’s point, there IS too much information flying at us daily and we need to choose and filter out those that are relevant. Micro-blogging helps get the “alert” to us in small bites that there may be relevant information to absorb and process. I think it is not about attention spans that are being reduced, but more about the fact that we have so much information available to us with less time to weed through it all.
She states that keeping up with your friends on Facebook stretched the working memory, but ironically the way you keep up with your friends on Facebook is through a form of micro-blogging on wall posts, and comments. Micro-blogging, Twitter, Youtube, is all integrated into Facebook as well.
Again, I can see her point that using twitter, or micro-blogging as just an aggregator of information and not processing what you are sending out or reading is not the best way to learn anything much less remember it. But I wouldn’t label Twitter, micro-blogging and even Youtube as a dumb dumb maker…not just yet. Now where did I put my keys?