Another dot in the blogosphere?

Posts Tagged ‘twitter

The Washington Post’s most recent slogan is Democracy Dies in Darkness. I was surprised to learn it came before the Trump era.
 

 
After experiencing and leading hashtagged discussions on Twitter, I have my own: Community dies with neglect. The runner-up is: Event promoters abuse hashtags.

Some might say that online discussions have limited lifespans or that they go through phases. I say some die before their time and decay in plain sight. And that is tragic and ugly.

 
The Purge is a horror movie. This week it is also how the Twitterverse might describe the drop in most users’ followers.

According to this TNW article, the Twitter purge removed locked accounts. The accounts were locked because they were abandoned, hijacked, and/or exhibited spammy behaviour.

locked accounts aren’t bot accounts necessarily — at one point, they were created and operated by a real person. Accounts on Twitter are locked when they begin to display spammy behavior, especially if it’s in opposition to how the account usually behaves. That includes a sudden increase in tweets with multiple unsolicited mentions, a high number of accounts blocking the account, and/or tweets with misleading links.

Business entities and celebrities might be upset about follower losses in the six or seven-figure range. Even though I “lost” about 600 “followers”, I am not upset because I regularly block and cull followers.

Twitter did me a favour by removing a malignant burden I did not know I was carrying. In doing so, it did something good in the battle against those that use Twitter for harm.

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This tweet and the PEW article caught my eye — about two-thirds of tweeted links to popular websites are shared by Twitter bots instead of actual people.

According to the article, Twitter bots are “accounts that can post content or interact with other users in an automated way and without direct human input”.

If I automate the posting of one daily reflection from my blog to Twitter and schedule other education-relevant articles with Buffer, is my human behaviour bot-like?

Given the qualifier “without direct human input”, I think not. Then again, I only had to set up the WordPress to Twitter process once and the buffering is regulated by an online tool instead of me.

It is difficult to have clear-cut definitions. We are sometimes not one the other, but both. We are precursor cyborgs, like it or not.

For me reading some Facebook (FB) group posts is like feeding a morbid habit of watching train wrecks.

I can see them coming because they are guaranteed. The conversations (if they can be called that) are unpleasant, but I plow through anyway. Why? All for the single pearl in the mud trampled by swine.
 

 
By comparing what I do and read in FB and Twitter, I realise that the issue is granular control. I can choose who I follow on Twitter. I can only choose which groups I join in FB.

I can even block people in Twitter so that I curate the right kind of followers. This is not the same as muting people on FB as the control is finer and deeper in Twitter.

It is strange that the more verbose FB provides less granularity of control while the shorter form Twitter provides more. This starts to make sense if you buy in to this description: FB is where you hang out with family or friends. Twitter is where you learn from strangers. It makes sense to have locks on your front door, but not on the ones inside.

But this is where the description falls apart. FB groups are full of strangers who have a lot to say with very little sense. You need only examine any FB interest group with the lens of granularity to realise how this leads to breadth instead of depth.

By breadth I mean the reach that large FB groups have in transmitting information. By lack of depth I mean unsubstantiated rumour, baseless information, or knowledge built on weak foundations.


Twitter is not immune from these, of course. But you can choose who to follow and you can even choose who follows you. You can go for quality, not just quantity, and by doing so choose depth over breadth. As you reputation grows over time, you might develop reach and breadth.

Developing depth over breadth is a more responsible approach. I wonder if this is modelled and taught in digital and media literacy modules. If this is not, then learners just go with the flow of popularity contests that favour breadth over depth.

Who says that you cannot learn from tweets?

While some might seem to concentrate bile in 140 characters, the edu-Twitterverse distills wisdoms. Here are just two that I bookmarked recently.

Teaching is a social process, but that does not make it based on wishy-washy feel good ideas. Effective pedagogy is based on rigorous research and reflective practice.

Teaching Is about digging deep to figure out what is best for learners and how to improve learning. It is not about teaching the way you were taught and with your blinders on.

Twitter is sometimes described as a stream of consciousness. I wondered if streams of unconsciousness might exist.

They do and I was upset when I saw one. It was like watching an unconscious loved one slip further into a coma.

Stream of unconsciousness -- Twitter ads in #edsg.

One stream of unconsciousness looked like this. It was an unbroken string of tweeted ads. Some might argue that the tweets were calls for proposals. So are unsolicited calls to your home or messages to your phone asking you to sell your flat. They are ads by another name. 

All that said, the organisers have every right to advertise an education conference. So I wondered why this bugged me.

On reflection, I realised that this was like what one other hashtagged channel did before it became a cesspool of vendor ads and shameless self-promotion. This is not edu-tweeting.

#edsg used to be a good example of edu-tweeting. Even after the regular chats went away, individuals would share useful or thought-provoking articles or they would ‘live’ tweet at education events. Doing these required careful thought and effort, unlike the bot-generated and auto “curated” tweets.

Imagine subscribing to an exciting and informative YouTube channel only for that channel to feature only shoutouts and ads. That is what #edsg threatens to become (some might say it is already there).

The good thing about both YouTube and Twitter is that I can unsubscribe or block what I do not wish to see. But that is not enough for me.

As a lifelong educator, I do not wish to see a learning space filled with white elephant boards displaying their company names. I do not like seeing an online space used without care.

I realise that my perspective is not shared by all. I choose to treat an online space like a physical and public one. It is shared and I choose to respect that space.

I can only hope that once the deadline in the ad is past, the ad tweets trickle to a mere drip or stop entirely. But the damage might already be done if the regulars do not return with recruits to share openly, wisely, and generously.

Twitter is just now experimenting with 280-character tweets instead of 140-character ones. Stephen Colbert saw the humour in doing this and tweeted:

The Twitterati will have more room to express itself. But this also gives hate groups and hateful individuals room to do disproportionately more damage.

The increase is also not sustainable. When 280 characters is not enough, is Twitter going to increase the quota again? It might cite its research on the numbers game and say no. But does it have research on the hate and vitriol that some individuals or groups receive regularly?

When these individuals or groups report these incidents, they are largely ignored or swept under the carpet. What data does it have on how often this happens?


Video source

When Twitter defended Trump’s veiled tweeted threat to destroy North Korea, what data did it use to call the tweet newsworthy? It probably played the numbers game (views, favourites, retweets) instead of considering what was ethical.

It is easier to increase the tweet character limit and to cite tweet counts. These implementations are lines of code and a superficial analysis away. It is more difficult to do what is right.

Doing what is right means drawing a line on the ground and not crossing it. What is right or wrong may change with time and context, but the need to keep drawing those lines does not. People need to know where you stand.


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