As you may well as seen Twitter has recently announced that it is considering raising its character limit per tweet from 140 to 10,000 which by my reckoning is quite an increase. For me the 140 character tweet is what makes Twitter Twitter. It would be like a fundamental change in identity to change the character length especially quite so drastically. I’m against it, it takes the skill and immediacy out of the platform. But this isn’t what I want to focus on here.
What I find interesting is what it says about the relationship between the user and the platform. Everyone seems to agree that this rumoured move is driven by Twitter’s desire for new users and behind this their desire to boost profit. So Twitter’s driving force is not their existing users or even making it more accessible to new users but ultimately profit. Now of course in the world we live in this is far from uncommon. What is of interest is the relationship we are thrust into.
When we join a social media site we are asked do two primary things, to give control of our disclosure and of our relationships in some sense to the site we join. We do not give the entirety of either our identities or our relationships but inasmuch as we use the sites for these reasons we give them over and lose some control of them
What Ulises Mejias points out about this in his book Off The Network is that we give up control to an organisation who do not do the same in return. Social media sites tend not to give democratic voice to its users about system changes. This challenges a certain vein of thought that social media is democratic and disrupts traditional power structures.
What does this say about the increasingly digital and informal educational environments career happens in? There appear to be some hidden dangers here as users are tempted by the apparent freeness of sites and their popularity. Though we may think we have nothing to loose and everything to gain what appears to happen is we hand over relationships and personal functions (such as learning) to a network that we have little say over and may in time not have our best interests purely at heart.
This raise the question of if this this changes the educational goals of careers development? Is it enough to simply as if career developments equips people to use social media or do we need to help people understand it and how it operates to make informed decisions about hwo they will interact with it?