Yesterday, while at my nieces cheerleading competition in Frisco, I had a revelation. We seem to have this need to connect with people. Not just specific people but anyone! While sitting in a very large arena, I noticed another niece of mine playing with her Nintendo DS. Never really paying much attention to the DS in the past, I was amazed at what I was witnessing. I was not aware that these little devices could text message from one DS to another. In fact, they seem to support a rather sizable network of surrounding DS machines. As I watched her play, I realized that she did not know who she was communicating with, just communicating. Yes, the messages were silly but they were connecting across the arena and responding to what ever was sent. Pictures, text, it really didn’t mater. Just sent something that was fun.
Figuring that this was a cheerleading competition and the place was filled with girls who like to stand up and cheer, I had my niece send a message that said they should all stand up and wave. WOW! What happened next was that groups of girls all across the arena started to wave! It was amazing how many of them received the message and acted based on the contents of the message. This got me thinking…what applications for collaborative work might a simple network like this have in a classroom? These kids, all about 10 to 15, seemed very comfortable in this collaborative text environment. As we went through our last TI session, I was surprised how many did not really like the text environment. Now, I realize that there are great limitations with text only and accessibility must be taken into account. However, here is an entire generation that uses cell phones and other devices to text message groups of people, they know and don’t know, on a regular basis.
However, this was not the end of my revelation. As we were leaving the arena, I noticed a large number of adults with phones in hand. They were not talking but rather, looking down at the text message they just received or were entering a text message to send. When I say large group…it was very obvious that text messages where flying all around that place and beyond. We clearly do live in a world that is connected and it seems that the written word is fundamental in making those connections meaningful. We can lament the change in the way the language is being used, the short-hand and sound bite nature of the choppy communication. However, this group is communicating and text messaging is here to stay. Having recently discussed the changing nature of the language with a group where most where not in favor of how the language was being used, I could not help but think about how nice it is that we don’t speak in Old English today.