Another dot in the blogosphere?

Death knell for #edsg?

Posted on: February 29, 2016

It is with mixed feelings that I say “Happy 4th birthday, #edsg!”

The Twitter hashtag officially turned four two weeks ago. I was around before its inception and helped give it birth.

#edsg is a regular online chat on Twitter, initially weekly and then later fortnightly. Now it lies almost comatose. Only a few of us take the trouble to show up every two Sunday nights.

That is not to say that there is no activity in #edsg. There was the unsolicited spam, the accidental spam, and the porn bots that we fought against.

But there is also wonderful and emergent conversations that take place in between planned chats. Recently I took note of what #edsg discussed over one particular week:

  • Worksheets during “learning” journeys
  • Grades vs feedback
  • The issue of screen time
  • Planning vs designing lessons
  • Whether introverted teachers were disadvantaged

These were not tweet-shouted into the ether. They were proper conversations between individuals about issues that mattered to them.

So why do I mention the death knell?

My records remind me that some of us started tweeting up (meeting in person) once a month in 2014 when we saw the weekly chats wane.

That year our chats evolved to be less led by weekly topics and questions, and more by emergent issues. In other words, the synchronous chats were not main measure of how lively #edsg was; the asynchronous ones were.

We made changes despite knowing the odds were against us. Little did I realise this then, but the slow down was part of a larger global problem that Twitter was having.

This excellent analysis written in January 2016 makes the case for the golden age of Twitter being over in 2014.

The spam, the analytics, and the lack of human interaction all suggest the same thing – Twitter’s golden age is behind it

Like the company mentioned in the article, “it wasn’t until 2014 that Twitter declined for us in actual numbers”. This would have been prophetic if I was able to travel to the future to read the article and then go back.

The article also hinted at the saviour of hashtagged conversations. Hashtags might be tied more tightly to more TV programmes. I think that they may also be more common at conferences.

While the weekly TV shows might bring in weekly chats, the conferences could create what I call Twitter zombies (the undead are already among us, infecting others, and creating more). All this will lead to the loss of the ground-up, self-help origins of edu-tweeting.

It is too late to say “if that happens” because we saw the signs in 2014 and tried swimming against the tide.

So I ring the death knell and am very sad. I hold out against hope by contributing daily and participating in fortnightly chats. It is a labour of love akin to a candlelight vigil by a loved one’s death bed.

How long will the candle burn?

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