Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Twitter, Facebook, and "working memory"

I blogged below about this story, that suggests Twitter reduces short-term or working memory while Facebook increases it.  It was a quick link-and-run job -- I had to get to class -- so I didn't take the time to look up the scholar or locate a peer-reviewed journal with an article. 

As an aside, the story mentions a thing called Jungle Memory which you can use to "train your child's brain" and improve memory.  For $49.99, that is.  And it's scientifically proven to increase IQ!  And it slices and dices and is easy to clean! 

But the author Tracy Alloway is a serious scholar who has published in all the major child psychology journals with extensive research in working memory.  I glanced at her stuff.  Impressive.  Though if she's commercially tied to Jungle Memory, that's a tad bit tacky.  I just can't tell that she is, so let's move on.

What about the journal where this research appears?  It doesn't.  According to a post on her site, the Twitter thing is based "on findings from a pilot study, more to follow once the study is complete."

A pilot study?  Oops.

Okay, but does it makes sense? As a user of all the social media mentioned in the story, yeah, it makes sense.

The nature of Twitter is quick bursts (140 characters), coming at ya again and again, and like the MTV videos of old with their quick cuts, we'd expect some influence on patience and short term memory.  I buy the idea, but I'd like to see the methodology and research that supports it, something beyond a pilot study.  But Twitter is not in it for the long haul.  Facebook is more serious, had longer legs, and deserves more scrutiny from a number of scholarly angles.  Myself, I'm fascinated by the public opinion aspects of Facebook, but that's another post for another day.

1 comment:

bethany said...

I've been stunned and impressed by meaningful, respectful discussions of issues like Health Care on people's facebook walls. I assume that's what you're hinting at at the end of this post.