Saturday, November 24, 2007

All a-Twitter...

Okay, I have to contribute to this conversation. If you haven't read Jen's (the blogger formerly know as TechnoSpud) blog article on Twitter, please click here. Read through the comments too. I'll wait.

Done? Great. Here's the thing. I was recently asked by someone (and to avoid name-dropping, which I really don't want to do, I won't name him) why I use Twitter. He said that he couldn't quite figure it out and wasn't sure what to make of it. This is a man I greatly respect and was very confused by why he had such a problem making heads or tails of the network. It really got me thinking about why I <3 the network. Because I do. I really do.

This is what I've come up with. Teaching is a very isolating career. If I'm having a rough day, I might actually only talk to two adults all day: the woman with whom I share a room and my husband. That is not cool, nor is it conducive to a good learning environment for me.

Since Twitter, I have felt globally connected in more ways that I can tell you. I told this man that I know a great deal about my Twitter network, either from their tweets or from their blog posts. I can tell you general locations of people, what specifically they do for a living, a bit about their personalities, and some of their likes and dislikes. If I'm feeling particularly down, I might contact @ijohnpederson to make me laugh (which I have done). If I want to know whether a French lesson I'm working on would appeal to my students, I might check with @arthus to see what his take on the lesson is. My SecondLife connection is @elemitrt. She and I used to talk all the time when I was on SL. I wish I could spend more time in-world, and when I am able to again, I know that she will be there to show me around the new places. Get the picture? I could go on, but I won't. :)

I know that it is easy to be offended by what someone types. It is often difficult to express oneself in just text. I try to give people the benefit of the doubt, and ask them about something that is disconcerting to me. I do think it is time, though, for someone to come out with the new rules of ettiquette. Something for this new, connected world. We could call it Ettiquette 2.0. Or Digital Nativettiquette. Or Twettiquette. Or Blogiquette. No matter what we decide to call it, I think it is important that somewhere we as a generation (and I don't mean in terms of age, I mean in terms of connectivity) define what is considered polite and what isn't.

Calling someone to see why they aren't tweeting might be okay, if it is someone that you would call anyway. Emailing/tweeting them and finding out why they are disconnected might be okay, though. For example, if someone wanted to let me know that they were thinking of me, an e-card would be sweet. I would feel the same way about a tweet, or an email, or even a Skype call. I would, however, be creeped out if you called my house. To be fair, I would feel the same way if we had just met at a conference. Or if we worked together, but never did anything outside of school. Fair enough?

I think the dialogue has just begun on this one. Thanks, Jen, for starting it.

Technorati Tags:
Twitter, Connectivity, Web 2.0, Beyond Podcasting, Random


Karen Janowski said...

Haven't stopped thinking about Jen's post since I read it yesterday and wondering why. What am I not putting into words? I think what you have written applies to me as well. I value conversation and work pretty much in isolation as an assistive technology consultant working with educators who have very little knowledge about the role of technology to support their struggling learners. My networks (twitter, ning, SL, edtechtalks, etc.) allow me to collaborate and connect with knowledgeable educators throughout the universe. At my age, developing new friendships is increasingly more difficult. Through our online networking and posting/commenting, we are sharing many things about ourselves including what we value and what we are learning. That is a level of familiarity that is difficult to achieve in traditional formats except within well-established relationships.
I agree with you that there is a need for new rules of networking etiquette. What is acceptable? We will make mistakes along the way. (I know, I have!)And we will learn from those mistakes.
But I not to lose the connections with other educators from throughout the world.
I have learned more in this past year than I have learned in the previous 20 (except for grad school) and learning with others fosters a different level of familiarity.
We will continue to grow together, make mistakes together and hopefully meet f2f at conferences together.
This is an incredibly empowering time but the pitfalls are there as well.
From this point on, I hope to go forward with my eyes wide open. (And I will try to avoid making mistakes, if possible.)

Elizabeth B. Davis said...

Twitter has been an amazingly energizing force for me. As my network grows, it only gets better. I don't worry that I don't really "know" people. I hope to meet more people f2f, but the resources, answers to my questions, and information about real time professional development has rocked my world. I might not recognize you on the street, but when I see your picture come up, I pay attention.

And, people pay attention to me. I wrote a blog post last night and had 5 comments within 5 minutes, and 10 comments by the morning. I've never gotten that much of a response to anything I've written since I started blogging almost a year ago. And, the comments were helpful and meaningful. I learned a lot from what people had to contribute. I now have a whole new way to look at something I've been struggling with. My network could relate to me in a way that my colleagues, right now, can't.

I also think that we, in the ed tech world, are particularly primed to take advantage of what a Twitter network offers. We are constantly searching through a sea of information to find the meaningful bits that we can share with others. Twitter provides me with 198 other people (including you) that can help me do that. Thanks!

injenuity said...

I responded on the original post but had another thought that was more relevant to your blog. Educators and Ed Tech folks have traditionally spent quite a bit of time working outside their classroom and office hours. It is very common to hear them complain about it and even negotiate this time in their union contracts. Twitter has allowed us to connect outside of work hours and make this preparation time more fun and engaging. Not only that, I suspect our actual hours working have been reduced due to collaboration. While we may spend more time involved in our work, some of it is spent building connections, which is not such a drudgery! :)

John Pederson said...

Thanks for being a part of my friend collection! ;)

I gauge much of my craziness on a super secret scale that simply asks "Does my wife understand it?"

Being a stay-at-home mom, that entire isolation piece is very real. She found the value of Twitter *right away*. The other morning I found her exploring Scrabulous with Jen Wagner.

+5 points for the "isolation" piece.

JenniferW said...


With all the continuing conversation of my thoughts of twitter these last 24 hours -- I got a great big smile when I read the following on your blog:

(the blogger formerly know as TechnoSpud)

I felt like Prince!! (grins)

Thank you for continuing the conversation on your blog.


Susan said...

I am floored by the number of responses - both on my blog and on Jen's. This is obviously a conversation that is past due.

Karen - I agree with you - I think collaboration is key to why Twitter has hit a chord with so many of us. I hope that you won't make any mistakes, but my guess is that you will - and so will I - because that's the only way to learn. :)

Liz - The power of the network is truly something, isn't it? It provides us with a way to be heard. I'm glad you're part of my network, too! :)

InJenuity - Very true! My time in Twitter, UStream, etc is not time that I'm getting paid for, but it is time that I wouldn't trade for anything! I think that, at times, it is even more valuable than the time that is in my contract. Good point.

John - Well, thanks for being part of my friend collection. :)
Yay, 5 points! :) Seriously though, that isolation piece is one that I think is forgotten quite often. Twitter helps me feel connected to people that understand what I'm talking about. Sometimes my RL colleagues don't even understand that (like when I'm cursing out our server for not supporting MySQL).

Jen W. - I'm glad that you feel like Prince! :) I do what I can.

Here's the other thing that I have been thinking about. Someone over on Jen's blog wrote about how personal lives have no place on Twitter. Now, how can that be? Let me give you an example: I found out that my dad has cancer on a Monday. So on Tuesday, I have to go to school and teach. How is it possible that I could just have a great day and act like nothing is wrong? In the same way, when I share something that is weighing on my mind, it is for the same reason that I share something in my classroom - because there is no way that I could function as a person/teacher as normal. I let my students know what is wrong so they don't ask questions - or so that maybe they'll cut me a break. Or think nice thoughts/pray for me. You know what I mean? It seems to me that I could never cut the personal out of Twitter because I am a PERSON.
Okay, I think I'm done. :)

Colleen said...

Hi Susan,

I think I'm the one who wrote that we shouldn't share too much about ourselves on Twitter. My concern was that we are actually sharing our personal lives with more than just our Twitter network since Google is indexing Twitter pages. I felt very comfortable and safe expressing personal views and stories to my Twitter friends until I found out that someone outside the network knew things about me that I would prefer they didn't know. They found out because they were googling my website and came across Twitter messages directed at me. This was a wake up call and it has affected my use of Twitter. I guess I tend to think more before I post and ask myself if this is something I want to share with the world.

I understand completely your desire to share sad news about your father with the network. I had told my Twitter friends about a family reunion I was attending. During the reunion, my father was hospitalized for heart problems. I felt the need to Twitter that. As a result, I received a great deal of support and prayers and felt less alone. So I want you to know that I never meant to imply that Twitter shouldn't be used in that manner. My focus was really on the personal jokes, instant messaging, and more frivolous uses of Twitter and only because more than the network has access to our messages.

Jen, the connector, has once again led me to another interesting blog. I'll be adding you to my ever-growing list of blogs to read.
Thanks for giving me a chance to clarify my earlier comment.

Susan said...

Okay, Colleen is right. I wasn't thinking about inappropriate uses of Twitter like inside jokes or hurtful comments that could easily be Googled. Thanks for bringing that up!
I am floored by the amount of discussion that has taken place, both here and on other blogs. Thanks again, Jen, for starting the fire on this conversation.