Thursday, January 24, 2013

Is Twitter Chat Lurking a 21st Century Skill?

There is power in being a good listener...

There is power in being a keen observer...

There is tremendous benefit to actively engaging in Twitter chats...  

But is there power in being a "lurker"??? 

For those who do not know, a "lurker" in the Internet community (Wikipedia Definition) is very different from a lurker in a traditionally defined sense ( definition). Many people encourage "lurking" in a Twitter chat before participating directly.

I have found that as I have expanded my PLN, I have also participated in many more educational chats than I have ever expected.

Recently I have wondered: 

  • As a participant do we observe/listen less to what is going on in the chat than someone who is lurking?  
  • Is there particular, and valuable, learning that is occurring when one lurks rather than directly participates or engages?

As I participate more and now find it difficult to just lurk, I wonder if I am loosing out on a type of learning that is valuable?  Is being able to "just lurk" a 21st Century Skill?


  1. I couldn't just lurk and read your post. I had to comment.

    I think lurking in a broader sense is a "skill" that the 1/3 to 1/2 of the populace which is "introverted" excels at. I think extroverts can learn a lot from introverts in this regard, just as introverts can learn from extroverts about ways to express themselves openly. It is a symbiotic relationship.

    There is also a much different dynamic to "lurking" online vs "listening" in a live conversation. The online format allows one to scroll back, reread, take time to form new ideas, whereas the live context can be too rushed and personalities can get in the way. There is a lot of value in online communication for some people who would not otherwise feel comfortable speaking their minds "live."

    1. Well said Magister.

      Very interesting point about those who listen, but still may be shut out from a meaningful dialog due to introverted nature or because they are in "conversation" with someone who will only talk & never listen.

  2. I think a part of that equation is the ability to self assess and decide if you are at a skill level to contribute to the tone of the conversation or if you at a place where you can benefit most from absorbing everything. If I engage in a chat and contribute often, I also miss many of the conversation streams. When I am more disengaged I can take in all of the conversations without being distracted by my own. For myself it depends if I am looking to take in a wide range of thoughts and ideas or refine one inn a very specific way.

    In that sense, perhaps the skill is the ability to identify what type of learning best meets your individual needs and then creating that experience.

    Great thought provoking post. I has me thinking about how online class chats are graded. I have often lurked on conversations on twitter. Perhaps lurking is what some students need to to in order to develop understanding.

    1. Thanks for the feedback Shawn. Great thoughts. I especially agree with "perhaps the skill is to identify what type of learning best meets your individual needs". A must skill regardless of platform or venue.
      Thanks again.