Another dot in the blogosphere?

Posts Tagged ‘twitter

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.

Photo by Dziana Hasanbekava on Pexels.com

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. 

Video source

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.

About a week ago I ignored (yet again) another small deluge of demands that I give my Twitter handle to someone else.

I ignored and blocked the noise because I have found those strategies to be effective against people who do not listen or read.

One such person declared that someone else deserved my Twitter handle because I had fewer followers than them.

I do not play that number game because I prevent people from following me by blocking them. I used to have to estimate how many until this week. I discovered that the latest version of the Twitter app shows my block count — it is over 33K.

I have blocked bots, spammers, and people who mistake me for someone else. I go on a blocking binge every month or so. This might seem like a foolish thing to do. But if I believe in curating my account as an educator, I need to practice what I preach.

I have been on Twitter since January 2007 and have the handle @ashley. Barely a week goes by without someone begging, asking, or demanding I give them that username.

The latest “request” was somewhat ironic given that I had just reflected on etiquette and its link to netiquette.

Instead of watching the video and reading the reflection about etiquette and netiquette (which are linked by the common thread of respect) a Twitter user and his/her fans demanded I give up my username.

I am not giving my handle away. I have had it since almost the beginning of Twitter. I am also not responding to the rudeness of the exchanges. Don’t take my word for it, see one user’s remarks:

My username, account, and stand are worth more than money.

It is about civility and empathy, which seems to be in short supply among some on Twitter. Perhaps they might start with some emotional intelligence.


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