Spike Milligan, the British comedian, was once working in his study at home. All of a sudden the doorbell rang. His wife answered it. Standing there was a postman bearing a telegram that Mrs Milligan had to sign for. When she opened it, she saw that it had been sent by her husband. It read:
VERY THIRSTY STOP MAY I HAVE A CUP OF TEA PLEASE
My wife and I sometimes communicate like this, in an updated way.If I have been upstairs for a few hours, and she is downstairs, she will sometimes send me a message on Facebook to suggest we have supper in half an hour's time.
This cartoon seems to me to encapsulate the funny side of all this.
But there is a serious side too. Kahlil Gibran, in The Madman, describes a man who is standing on a beach with his back to the sea, listening to the sound of a seashell.
He is the realist, who turns his back on the whole he cannot grasp, and busies himself with a fragment.
I think sometimes we need to remind ourselves that actual physical experiences are important too:
There's a joy to be had in walking around the school playground looking for minibeasts to photograph, instead of just looking on Flickr.
There is pleasure and much 'hidden' learning to be had in visiting somewhere in real life, if you can, than looking at it on Google Earth, or experiencing it vicariously through someone else's eyes via a video stream or webcam.
And everyone I meet agrees that, whilst online communication is wonderful, nothing quite beats actually meeting people face to face.
And there's another consideration too. Many years ago, as a form tutor, I decided that I was going to play some classical music to my registration class each morning. Not because I thought that music was superior to their own, but because I didn't think they would even get to hear classical music in their everyday lives. They really enjoyed it.
In the same way, if it is true that youngsters today are always online in some fashion, especially as many parents are afraid to let their children play outside on their own, don't we owe it to them to provide a few quality offline experiences during the course of the week?
If this post has seemed very un-Web 2.0, don't worry: normal service will be resumed tomorrow!
Have you seen the other articles in the Web 2.0 for Rookies series? Feel free to comment, and to recommend them to your colleagues and students.