Another dot in the blogosphere?

Posts Tagged ‘twitter

No matter which application I use, my Twitter notifications section is a noisy mess. This is because my Twitter handle, @ashley, is used by people I know and people I do not.

The people I know want to @ me to discuss an idea. But I rarely get to exchange ideas with them because of people who do not use Twitter properly. 

They might @ some other “ashley “ but use my handle instead. They might add the rest of their contact’s handle, but do so wrongly, e.g., “@ashley someoneelse” instead of “@ashley.someoneelse”. They might add the rest of their contact’s handle correctly, but their messages still appear in my notification timeline.

All this means I get 99 misdirected notifications for every correct one. Quite literally. This is how I miss legitimate and valuable conversations.

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No tool, not TweetDeck or TweetBot, and especially not the default Twitter app helps me filter misdirected messages. So I resort to blocking those who are careless. But this is like scooping cups of water out from under a huge waterfall in a vain attempt to not get deluged.

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This CNET article declared Twitter might launch a long-form format so users can write articles.

My unoriginal response: So they are reinventing the blog? Why not reinvent the wheel and cripple it?

Alas, the #edsg community on Twitter is long gone [archive]. But that does not mean that Twitter is no longer a source of informal professional development (PD) for me.

Here is a sample of tweets that I have bookmarked in the last month or two.

The content of this PD is unplanned and it arrives unpredictably. But it is timely because it is often the latest news about my professional interests. Sometimes it is serendipitous — it is relevant to something I am teaching that semester.

So if there is anyone pooh-poohing Twitter for PD, I say this: Don’t knock it until you have tried it. I joined Twitter in January 2007 and it has not failed me since.

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Barely a day goes by when at least one tweet storm appears in my Twitter timeline.

These are easy to recognise because each tweet has numbers like 1/, 2/, 3/, etc. The tweeter cannot keep to the 280-character limit and so a message (often a long one) spans several tweets.

The problem? They look spammy because they dominate my timeline and I have to scroll past them. I do not read them if the first tweet a) is not important enough, and b) does not contain a link to the rest of the thoughts.

My short response: Get a blog. Write in one. Link it to Twitter.

If blogging sounds old-school, write somewhere else and link to it. You can choose to feed the Facebook algorithm, add to the noise at LinkedIn, or recreate a spammy-looking post on Instagram. You know what, just get a blog and make it professional.

That is not to say that one should not tweet storm. But like a storm, rare downpours are palatable. Raining on everyone’s parade all the time is a wet blanket. 

This tweet reminded me about how Facebook tries to redefine friends. You might end up with thousands of “friends”, most of whom you have not met in person or online. You might not even know these people and some might even be your enemies. These are not friends; they are barely acquaintances. 

Twitter is guilty of misnomers too. Take “likes” as an example. If you want to keep track of a tweet but not propagate it, you have to like it. You actually want to bookmark or archive it for later reference, but you have to send a wrong message to the tweeter and a wrong data point to Twitter.

These platforms are not reinventing the wheel. They are reshaping it so that it is twisted out of shape and feeds their data-hungry appetites.

Words matter. We need to say what we mean, and mean what we say.

I am not being pedantic about semantics. But I am particular about saying what you mean and meaning what you say.

If we do not have shared meanings, we do not have common reference points. Then when we try to solve problems, we might go off on different tangents and risk being irrelevant. 

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If you have an edtech background, you might watch Hank Green’s video and arrive at the conclusion that we should not be technologically deterministic with social media.

This means not blaming a platform like Twitter for all ills that we see there. Twitter alone is not responsible for hate, racism, or disinformation that you might find there. Twitter as a company is responsible for algorithms and policies that might enable such content to bloom there, but that is only half the story. If we only read that half and blame Twitter, we are technologically deterministic.

The other half of the story is us. We use Twitter to communicate and share. Twitter can not only amplify what we say, it also reveals who we are. If some among us are racist, the amplified messages might be about hate. We make Twitter what it is by shaping it around ourselves. If we understand that, we are not technologically deterministic. We take responsibility; we do not simply shift it.

With a non-deterministic mindset, Green suggested that we use Twitter for good. If there is too much noise, we can choose to ignore the din and create more signal instead. If there is too much hate, we can show care. Just think of Twitter this way: It is fertile soil, but we hold the seeds or seedlings. We reap what we sow.

I agree with the tweeted thought above. Knowing how to use Twitter and being literate in the Twitterverse matter if you are to make it work for you.

But there is a difference between being literate and being fluent. The latter is a a leap ahead. It is the like the difference between being able to read, write, and speak a language, and being skilled at all three.

Being literate in Twitter could mean being aware of technological affordances of Twitter as they are and as they emerge, and being able to use them all. It could mean knowing who to follow and who not to.

Being fluent could mean embracing and taking advantage of nuance and subtlety. This could mean knowing who to unfollow, mute, or block, and sending messages with these actions. It could also mean knowing when a long thread is appropriate vs when to link to a blog post. It could mean knowing whether to reply or not.

It happened. Finally.

On one hand, I say good riddance to bad rubbish. On the other, too little too late because of all the damage he did with thumbs fueled with vile and bile.

Alfie Kohn had a more articulate response than mine.

My short and immediate response was: By so many of us all over world using these platforms uncritically, frequently, and unethically.

Uncritical because we do not bother to learn what the platforms do with what we share. Or if we do, we do not really care because of the dopamine hits from likes or the joy that armchair bullies and philosophers derive from faceless commentary.

Frequent because we grow uncritically reliant on feeding the machine that consumes us as we consume what we collectively produce.

Unethical because all this is sometimes done without context or care for a real person at the receiving end of a comment.

The fault is ours for being blind to our faults, deaf to those who point them out, and mute towards those who might make a difference. We are seeing this repeating with WhatsApp and with TraceTogether.

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The critics on Twitter who claim that the platform is filled with anger and vitriol must hang out in bubbles very different from mine.

Mine is decidedly edu-Twitter. Here I get to read tweets that move me in different ways.

This tweet made me shake my head (SMH) and then shake with laughter.

Imagine the audacity to force people to learn about an LMS with every log in attempt! I bet that the administrator or techie who suggested and implemented that received a non-teaching award from the university.

The next tweet just made me SMH for how universities still use end-of-course student feedback for staff evaluations.

The last tweet I am highlighting makes me want to shake the sharer’s hand (even though she used an outdated reference to learning styles).

Twitter can get ugly, particularly if you reside in the socio-political or celebrity spaces. But these do not represent all of Twitter. There are other districts you can visit. Some are nice or pleasant enough to stay.

Greta Thunberg. Climate activist. Time’s Person of the Year 2019. Now also known as Sharon.

Why did she make such a trivial name change? The tweet below provides some context.

A contestant on Celebrity Mastermind was to name the Swedish climate activist whose book of speeches is called No One is Too Small To Make A Difference. She did not know the answer, but insisted on “Sharon” anyway.

Thunberg temporarily changed her name on Twitter to Sharon to go along with the gag. In doing this, she might add one more title to her growing list: Twitter Tutor.

Consider the simple but important lessons in changing her Twitter bio.

  1. Go with the flow.
  2. Turn the negative around to make it positive.
  3. Be snarky, funny, or snarkily funny.

The last one was evident when she responded to a Trump tweet in December last year. This CNET article provides information on both her responses.

For me, this is a reminder that we need to learn from our kids. They have much to teach us. We need to be quiet, still, and humble enough to say: Teach me, Sharon.


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