Sigh… After many months of very subtle peer pressure I have given in and now can be found tentatively twittering and tweeting away. Well, actually, it’s been just one measly tweet but I’ll see if I can muster some more before too long. So, those of you who follow the microblogging world, look for me at: http://twitter.com/h2onc. We’ll see how useful the microblogosphere is when this particular “macroblog” doesn’t get nearly the attention it deserves! This could be a brief, feathered experiment, or it could be the start of a new on-line nest.
One thing I will say, new media is very new turf for those of us devoted to brick and mortar Extension offices, face to face meetings, in-person workshops and printed publications. It has paid for me to experiment with it. This blog was the first tentative leap into the New Media unknown. Since then I’ve experimented with social networks and now will try Twitter on for size. Why is this important? Because Extension–to which I am quite wed–is facing a crisis of identity in the 21st century. Our model was based on roots that go back to the 19th century when agricultural extension agents roamed the back roads of rural America bringing new technology and know-how to a mostly agrarian America. Our offices were well known institutions in small town America. Well, things are very different now–most Americans live in cities (nearly 80% of us) bigger than 100,000. And since the rise of the Internet, successive generations starting with mine (the Gen X’ers) have embraced the web with gusto. Millennials–those of the generation born after 1980 (and extending until about 2000) are indeed considered the newest and most pervasive “digital natives.” For them, if it isn’t available on-line, it may not exist! So if Extension–both Sea and Land Grant-based–institutions want to reach this mass of urban, digitally embedded people, we’d better modernize and fast! And at the same time, we had better learn to keep up because New Media is growing and changing at light speed.
For more on this crisis, check out this very short but engaging slide show put out by my former colleague Mark Crossler on the challenge of getting across the generational divide for Extension programs. So, yes, I’ve joined the Twittering masses. My hope is that it’s a useful experiment for a good cause!