To further underscore your assertion that social networks/media can improve the intellectual "grade" of just look at http://www.khanacademy.org/, it's pretty hard to argue that "YouTube makes you dumber".
Sal Kahn's posted some of the YouTube's most viewed videos, which are almost entirely educational tutorials. (They're interesting and well done, to boot.)
That is an awesome example. I'm going to look for a lesson on the Scientific Method now.
I think one of the most interesting points here is the fact most people are taken in by the headline, regardless of the content.
This could be an indicator of people habitually taking from headlines without gleaning information from the body. Similar to reading updates on Twitter or Facebook without reading or interacting.
Seems to me that the entire argument is made by someone who doesn't have practical experience with the medium, or who's experience is extremely limited. The big misconception for most folks is that "Facebook is two way communication while Twitter is one way". It's always mentioned that people 'interact' with Facebook as opposed to people 'posting' to Twitter.
I mean, based on the argument, I wouldn't have even found this post… I would have seen a link and said 'oh, look. Adrian posted'. Just because a summary of the content is not shoved down my throat by Facebook this link is somehow less likely to be processed by my brain?
Sorry this is too long I can't read it.
You're killing me.
now for my real thoughts:
You could propose that with it's limitations Twitter actually makes you smarter, you need to be creative to get your point, thoughts whatever across. With Facebook you can throw up all over everything and not have to think about what you're doing (as we've all seen many people do).
In any case they are both open systems and can be used in a myriad of different ways, mainly up to the individual.
There are many writers out there who have posted their own anecdotal experience with composing compelling tweets. Many of them think it strengthens their writing skills.
But then there's Jakob Nielsen's 5-step iteration testing to make your tweets more boring (but marketable): http://www.useit.com/alertbox/twitter-iterations.html
This post has also been picked up over at evolt.org: http://evolt.org/Facebook-Doesnt-Make-You-Smarter-Rigorous-Research-Does
I believe that twitter is actually helping my memory. I often check into twitter from my iphone when I'm out running around in the streets of NYC. Often a twitter with a link will catch my eye but I don't necessarily want to read the content of the link on my iphone. Instead I'll "remember" to go back and check the timeline of the person who sent it so I can read it in a more relaxed way on the bigger screen of my computer.
I suspect this person was an idiot even before Facebook, but still…
A burglar left himself logged in after checking his Facebook page at a victim's house. So they caught him, of course.
Another criminal burns himself with Facebook:
He had fled to Mexico but updated his status regularly to talk about his new life in Cancun. He might have been free and clear but one of his FB friends works for the justice department.