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Posts Tagged ‘death

Although I am no longer an academic, I see research opportunities everywhere. One set of untapped research is in Pokémon Go (PoGo).

I am not talking about the already done-to-death exercise studies or about the motivations to play and keep playing.

I am thinking about how sociologists might add to PoGo’s trend analysis. Number crunchers have already collected data on its meteoric rise and now its declining use. While these provide useful information to various stakeholders, I wonder if anyone has considered the impact of PoGo uncles and aunties.

I am not the first to observe how much older players have started playing PoGo. I tweeted this a while ago and someone just started a thread in the PoGoSG Facebook group about uncles and aunties at play.

A quick search on Twitter with keywords like “pokemon go” and “auntie” or “uncle” might surprise you.

The PoGo aunties and uncles are quite obvious here. So far I have noticed three main types: Solo aunties, uncles in pairs or small groups, and auntie-uncle couples. There are more types, of course, but these three are common enough to blip frequently on social radar.

But I would not be content with just describing the phenomenon. I would ask if they contribute to the “death” of PoGo just like how the older set adopted Facebook and how teens then migrated to Snapchat.

We should not underestimate the impact of uncles and aunties. After all, there must be a reason for this saying: Old age and treachery will always overcome youthfulness and skill.

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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Regular readers of my thoughts on this blog (yes, the one or two of you) might find this entry unusual. I would like to link death with leadership.

It might have been Neil Gaiman who said:

Life is a disease: Sexually transmitted, and invariably fatal.

I watched the movie Gravity recently and Sandra Bullock, the female lead, in her hopeless situation in space declared that she knew that everyone died eventually, but most people did not know when they would die.

I know, we’re all gonna die. Everybody knows that. But I’m gonna die today.

I think that when people find out that they have a terminal disease or are facing unavoidable doom, they quickly experience various things. One of them might be clarity of thought and purpose.

They suddenly realize what is important, and if they have a little bit more time to live, they use their remaining breath to say sorry, how much they love someone, to make things right, etc.

I shared one of my favorite quotations on leadership with my MLS125 class:

Leadership not is about asking for permission first. It is about asking for forgiveness later.

You could also replace “leadership” with “change” in the quote above.

We need not be at death’s bed to have such clarity in order to implement change. Unfortunately, most people seem to need extreme nudges.

But not all do.

Those that do not need the reminder that time is short, or those that realize that their role or job as change agents can change at any time, realize that asking permission takes too much time and often plays into the hands of the system that resists change.

Such a mindset is rarely appreciated and even more rarely rewarded. Such leadership is labelled rebellious. But it is effective.

Steve Jobs did not ask us for permission to create and market the first iPhone. His ideas were pooh-poohed by some industrial leaders. But he went ahead and did what he knew was right. Whether you like the iPhone or not, it was a critical development in the evolution of smartphones.

We have the benefit of hindsight in analyzing such a leader. Unfortunately, such rebellious leadership is often appreciated only this way, i.e., after the leader passes or the dust settles down.

It is hard to quantify how he knew what the right thing to do was. I would hazard a guess that it was the gestalt of thoughts, research, and experiences that he had accumulated that drove him.

Not many change agents and leaders have that clarity or staying power. How many are we willing to frustrate and lose? How much lip service are we going to pay to “uncertain times require uncertain strategies”?

Waiting for change and bold leadership will be the death of us. That is why these risk-takers will continue not asking for permission, and where necessary, ask for forgiveness instead.


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