Twittering live to Radio 4.

At around 5pm, a tweet (a message broadcast through Twitter) from Stephen Fry alerted all online at the time of a live Twitter session occuring to accompany the BBC Radio 4 programme  Analysis; Clever.Com, at 8:30pm. The programme looked at the pros and cons of the internet and social networking on the brains and development of the younger generation.

I learnt something new, that you could use a hashtag address to partake in a common discussion, (see video by Mari Smith at onTwitter, in this instance the tag was #goodradioclub. Another useful online page called TweetChat allowed you to follow the conversations as they happened.

A trickle of messages started in the half hour up to the programme and rapidly turned into a flood as the programme itself got underway.

The overall message of the programme was that those born into the digital age were just shallow skimmers of information, hopping from site to site on the web and therefore unlikely to to develop the clear reasoning skills of us older generations who had learnt about libraries and writing proper!

Stephen Fry gave a robust and positive message, that actually, people were empowered by the increased access to information and that indeed books and the internet could coexist.

The twitterati too treated the underlying message, that our brains were being turned to much by this newfangled technology, with a healthy degree of scepticism. In fact, the wider spread of opinion and evidence from a broad panel of participants as we furiously bashed out our tweets, revealed the limitations of a voice programme, which had obviously been carefully choreographed with a trend to its own conclusions.

Indeed, my overiding impression was one of fast and furiuos action/ reaction as the twitterati had to listen, read other tweets and respond. My contribution was predominantly reactive with counterarguments or comments to the speakers thoughts and it was only after the show had finished that the pace slowed down sufficiently to reply to other responses.

My own personal opinion, from being internet ready myself, having two teenage children and experiencing this event was, that the issue of shallow skimming was a superficial response to the reality. We live in an information age, bombarded and able to access fields of knowledge that are exponentially greater than those even a few years ago.

As in life throughout humanity we skim the surface of our existence for most of the time and only drill down or notice detailed information when it is of particular relevance to us. We now have more information to sift for usefulness and therefore browse more visibly. But when we really really want information, we can drill down quite deeply.

Perhaps the one thing we should do as a society is to accept that there is an unimaginable wealth of information out there. What is important is to develop our critical and analytical processes so that we can use it effectively.