The Real Paul Jones

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Confusing Message and Messenger

Collegue David Carr points us to a Chronicle of Higher Ed article called “The Professor as Instant Message.” After 5 days, the link above will vanish, but Chronicle subscribers can find the article here.

although i was amused by the article i found it to follow a familiar script:
new teacher (or old) tries new tech (email, chat, bboard, sms, im, etc).
teacher has less experience than students.
teacher projects uses and behaviors on tech and tech users.
the users (students) already have a social standard for use.
teacher is amused and slightly flummoxed by the tech and the social construction of the tech.
teacher reports mixed results after recounting a few tales.

i’ll bet there is a comm tech theory that covers this but what is it?



  1. Thanks for reading the article! I’ll concede that the structure may be a bit formulaic, but I hoped not to fall into the “technology is hard” trap that such a column can lead you to. I actually had someone write me saying I’d convinced her not to use IM in her classes, and that was not what I had hoped for at all!!

    What I really am interested in is the separate identities we create in different settings, and I kind of wanted to explore how that happens in digital environments. It makes me wonder about facebook on campus, too. I created a user account, but I didn’t look at more than one or two students’ profiles. I felt as if I had spied on them and invited myself into their dorm rooms.

  2. Paul

    2/9/2006 at 6:10 pm

    See cartoon on page 84 of this week’s New Yorker.

    People always look for justifications to not do what they don’t want to do. After reading your article, another of my collegues wrote us all to say that this explained why she has no cell phone. Errr. Q: What does that have to do with what you wrote? A: Nothing. But everything to do with personal misinterpretation of the article. Wolfgang Iser is right; the author is out of control and the reader remakes the text. Some times more smartly than other times.

    On Facebook, stuff there is meant to be seen — or is it? see references to Fred Stutzman’s research on privacy and FaceBook earlier in this blog. Students want privacy and value it highly when asked, but in practice — especially on Facebook — they tell all and more! Are they that desperate to hook up?

    On self-creation, back to Sherry Turkle for that sorta. I think what Turkle misses is that beginning as tweens, kids try out a lot of identities. Some stick for longer than others. You yourself may have assumed a fake name while on vacation or out of your neighborhood. Reinventing yourself, even briefly, is very American — or should I say — very human.

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