When I taught ecology, my students studied the concept of “The Tragedy of the Commons,” which was popularized by an ecologist by the name of Garrett Hardin.

Basically, it’s about the exploitation of a commonly shared resource. When all who share the resource play by the rules and share equally all benefit, while the resource generally remains intact and capable of sustaining future use. However, given human nature, a single member (or more) may eventually consume more of his/her share of the resource, prompting all to be more aggressive and utilize more, in an escalating pattern of consumption. Gradually, through this process the resource, or “The Commons,” is destroyed.

So, I’ve been struggling with this for awhile, but I can see parallels between this concept and what I believe is an exploitation of the new digital commons-I’m talking Twitter here.

At its best, Twitter is a place to share a resource, a link to a new blog post, or an insight, and even a place to have a little fun. It’s a place that could be about learning. At its very worst, Twitter is a self-indulgent exercise in self-promotion and pettiness.

Right now, I think we are watching Twitter change right before our digital eyes. Be the first with the tool (Diigo, for example), be the first with a post, be the first with the wiki, be the first to uStream, stake your claim in a never-ending game of name building and recognition. Take advantage of the commons, go ahead. But where will that eventually lead to?

In my opinion, Twitter really has also changed how some people interact, and not in a positive way. When did the defacto standard greeting at a conference become “Hi, I follow you on Twitter.” How about “Good Morning?” Then, “But you don’t follow me.” Gee, sorry, not my responsibility…


When did getting called out for not following someone become something you did? When did sending an email to someone who doesn’t follow you, and you want to know why, become something you did? How absolutely ridiculous! Get over it. Do you want it that bad-is it really that important? Seriously!

What about connecting to share ideas in the service of learning?

When did it become about becoming noticed, when did it become about taking your rightful place in the line of technology “experts.” When did it become about “cocktail parties” and “inner circles?” And since I’m thinking about it, I’m wondering if the people promoting the idea of ridiculous idea of a cocktail party or inner circle would be the first wanting to join if such a thing actually existed?


What happened?

Take Educon 2.0. It’s Friday and if you were there, you had the opportunity to visit the kids and teachers of the Science Leadership Academy. However, most stayed in the library bantering about Twitter and finally meeting those people in real life that had become some important in their digital one. What a missed opportunity to observe a truly unique school.

So here comes NECC, with the Blogger Café and EdubloggerCon. I can only imagine what a scrum for attention those could potentially turn into. But EdubloggerCon provides the opportunity for those who have blogged and twittered for a year to step up-let’s hear what you have to say face to face. Are you ready for that? Are you ready to earn it-really earn it?

The more I think about all this Twitter nonsense, the more I think about fundamentals. Writing. Commenting. Reading in your aggregator. Putting links into del.icio.us and supporting that network. Reading research. Reading outside of the ecochamber. Reflecting, questioning, getting uncomfortable—and then perhaps challenging the assumptions of your foundation. Personal growth. How can I grow and change as an educator? What can I do better to help kids learn?

And then put it into practice. What worked, what didn’t.

Put that into Twitter.

Twitter has diverted many from what is important, what should be the true goal. And that’s the real tragedy…

106 Responses to “Tragedy of the Commons”
  1. Artichoke says:

    Thank you for connecting Twitter with “The Tragedy of the Commons” David – I loved the new connections this catalysed.

    I have always enjoyed Illich’s thinking on technology and suspect you might also. Have you read Illich on
    Silence is a Commons
    by Ivan Illich – Computers are doing to communication what fences did to pastures and cars did to streets.

    I hope that the parallel now becomes clear. Just as the commons of space are vulnerable, and can be destroyed by the motorization of traffic, so the commons of speech are vulnerable, and can easily be destroyed by the encroachment of modem means of communication.
    The issue which I propose for discussion should therefore be clear: how to counter the encroachment of new, electronic devices and systems upon commons that are more subtle and more intimate to our being than either grassland or roads – commons that are at least as valuable as silence. Silence, according to western and eastern tradition alike, is necessary for the emergence of persons. It is taken from us by machines that ape people. We could easily be made increasingly dependent on machines for speaking and for thinking, as we are already dependent on machines for moving.

  2. Cathy Nelson says:

    Guess I needed that–though it wasn’t meant in a negative way. Just wanted to say the “following” wasn’t as important. And also that using the @ doesn’t necessarily mean a thing. I use twitter for my personal learning. period. It is one of the reasons I didn’t link to anyone by name, blog, twitter page, or any other online identity. Because who they are is not as important to me as what they contribute. Again, it is used as a from of PLN for me, a place where I can see examples of best practice and get quick answers from knowledgeable people who are willing to help when I need it.

  3. Greg Noack says:

    Reading the first half, my only comment would be, if we are trying to build a COLLABORATIVE network, maybe we should be excited that so many educators want to connect and learn from each other, regardless of the motives. Maybe the need to have followers is only a human need to feel connected, to be “part of the group”. I will confess I had a personal goal to get 100 followers. But I tried to build that by making smart comments and engaging in the conversation. Why 100? Well it’s hard to feel part of a collaborative group if no one is listening to you. Is there anything wrong with wanting to be part of the group? And maybe that’s the problem with twitter, it’s really not a good way to have a conversation. Let’s stop using it as such and focus on just sharing. I really like your last section “What about connecting to share ideas in the service of learning?” I need to do much more reading/reflecting/writing… that is how I, and must of us truly internalize knowledge and gain wisdom. I just hope we aren’t abandoning twitter, it is an invaluable resource for me when used to share new ideas and resources.

  4. Kate Olson says:

    As an educator who will likely never be able to attend events like Educon and NECC due to lack of funds (district, personal, etc), my digital PLN is what I have for the moment outside of events in my district. I think we need to be careful of labeling tools and the people who use them – as I read your post I’m taking away that using twitter = not doing all of the other good things that you mention such as reading, reflecting, aggregator, del.icio.us, growing, changing, getting uncomfortable. There are many educators who do just that AND use twitter as part of the process. I just caution you against labeling, it diminishes what some use as a very powerful learning tool. And unfortunately, I’ll never be able to meet you in person to say “Good Morning”, but I found your link through twitter and am now able to do so here – so, “Good Morning, it’s nice to meet you”. Just be careful with generalizations.

  5. Stuart Ciske says:

    As usual, David, you are right on target. However, my experience with Twitter, as limited as it may be, has demonstrated that Twitter has created access to you and others leaders/visionaries in the ed tech community in a manner that before Twitter was unheard. Thus it doesn’t surprise me that some new to Twitter and blogging want to be seen and heard ASAP – sort of to prove they belong. I have found that Twitter and blogging has enabled me to see more, learn more and meet more people – some well known and some not so much. What Twitter has done is speed up the process for getting information out and likewise responses back – which is good. But you are correct – just how many people can I follow and interact with in a meaningful way using Twitter? 25, 50, 100, 500, more and should I know all by name on sight?

    My first major Twitter moment – not everything I say will resonate with all of my followers and accepting that. It’s not easy at first as one thinks everything posted needs a reply. It doesn’t and won’t. Once you get over that, Twitter is easy, fun and enjoyable.

    You have nearly 900 followers – not the number conducive for a small, little cocktail party, huh?

  6. Michael says:

    Thanks, David – I totally agree. I’m not seeing the value in Twitter in its current state, but I never want to let my own feelings get in the way of something that really is worth it. I posted my thoughts on this a couple of weeks ago here -> http://www.pointatopointb.org/2008/03/31/twitter-stop-the-insanity/.


  7. I agree with everything said in this post. About being in the “in crowd on twitter” . It is there. The club thing. I think that is human nature and not necessarily unique to Twitter. Facebook also comes to mind. What has been extremely fruitful me is the meeting of new people. The announcement of new knowledge. I would not be here reading this blog post without twitter. It has been for me, the fastest dissemination of knowledge from all parts of the world I have ever known. I am too lazy to check my rss feed. Twitterites do it for me.

  8. Scott McLeod says:

    David, part of what you saw at Educon 2.0 at SLA was just a natural inclination of folks to try and connect with people with whom they’d never met in person, no?

    You say, ‘EdubloggerCon provides the opportunity for those who have blogged and twittered for a year to step up-let’s hear what you have to say face to face. Are you ready for that? Are you ready to earn it-really earn it?’ I’m up for the challenge, but what exactly do you mean by this? What does ‘stepping up,’ saying things ‘face to face,’ and/or ‘earning it’ mean to you? ‘Cause I gotta confess I’m a little unclear…

    Looking forward to meeting you at NECC (and stepping up the challenge)!

  9. John Maklary says:

    David, you have a special knack for articulating how, I suspect, many folks feel, including myself. You are my hero! ;-)

  10. vejraska says:

    I just have to say that as I was reading this post, my mind kept going back to the presidential debate I watched last night. In my opinion, both candidates wanted to talk about the important issues, and stop all the twittering about nonsense;) Let’s stop getting sidetracked from the real work that is to be done!
    (paid for by the committee to elect David Jakes;this message was not approved by Jakes)

  11. JLWagner says:

    Dear David:

    I am glad that you have put into words something that has been frustrating both yourself (and many of us) for the last few months.

    ALL of us have made Twitter Errors and have posted comments that perhaps should not have ever been typed and because of this, have adjusted our “personal” twitter rules to behave better…..smiles.

    But recently, it seems that twitter is becoming a portal for people to become their own personal town-crier to announce what they are doing.

    I really don’t mind when someone posts that they have a new blog post (that is how I found this last night.) I do RSS this blog — but the twitter post got to me before the RSS did. And I really don’t mind that. Especially if I truly enjoy reading the person’s thoughts.

    What saddens me is the necessity that some feel to promote themselves on Twitter….over and over and over again. To the point, that what they might be sharing might be of value, but it is easy to become tired of hearing of it or anything new that they might have to say because they have already said SO MUCH.

    I find it best to let others boast of what I am doing rather than promote myself….but that is one of my personal rules.

    You raised a point about the “you don’t follow me” comments which frustrates me as well. I don’t understand why people follow me in the first place anyway. I wonder though — to those that are respected, those who’s words are admired, those who have (whether it is true or not) have been placed in a “authority” role — is there the need to perhaps follow more??? This is honestly just a question — not an accusation!! I am just dwelling on this myself.

    It has been suggested to me, that “Yes, I (JLWagner) should be following more…it means a great deal to those who are followed. And by not following someone, it might look like I am saying You are not worthy of being followed.” Which is not my intent……But I am struggling mightily with this, I know my personal twitter comfort level,…..but would truly appreciate your thoughts on this idea — perhaps your next post? :) Have people put too much value on “following” in twitter??

    You have stirred the pot, and I look forward to reading what more people have to say about this post.


  12. To continue with Cathy’s thoughts….

    Three years ago I wrote a post called “Meet my Friends in My Aggregator”
    It was my way of trying to explain RSS. My aggregator moved from simply streams of content to real people with real personalities. While I had never met any of the at the time, because of the shared understandings of ideas and learning, I felt very connected to them.

    Fast forward 3 years and while I’ve been fortunate enough to meet many of these same people through the odd conference or online community, I still connect with them because of the value they add to my learning.

    The fact there are so many great new voices entering the scene means I can add and delete people from my network at any time. It has nothing to do with hurting anyone’s feelings but everything to do with my limited time on earth and my desire to get the most out of my network.

    If you’re not contributing to my learning, I’ll drop you like a hot potato and I’d expect the same will happen when I don’t contribute to others.

    I believe in the power of social networks and tools like twitter that both contribute to learning but also add faces and personalities to people. Being transparent can be a good thing but should not override the reason we’re here in the first place. The web offers a greater sense of democracy and the ability for all voices to emerge. Reading the Long Tail by Chris Anderson might help some understand this better.

    Those people that have lived off twitter at the expense of their aggregator, have in my opinion, traded in full meals for snack food. I like snacks as much as the next guy but understand I need more substance than that. But the good news is there’s lots to go around.

  13. Nate Stearns says:

    I’m very sympathetic to what you wrote. I also see the “Writing. Commenting. Reading in your aggregator. Putting links into del.icio.us and supporting that network. Reading research. Reading outside of the ecochamber. Reflecting, questioning, getting uncomfortable.” part to be the whole point of the Web. That’s what I’m good at. But what Twitter does and which I’m not so good at is to frontload the process of creating a more flexible, more personal network. If I were able to use Twitter (and the hangup is more on the social skill end than the tech end), I’d be able to create a network of people who could be useful in answering questions, collaborating on ideas, working with my students, and pointing out useful resources. That might be better than the physical f2f part of a conference. Then again, maybe not.

  14. Adina Sullivan says:

    David, I think you are right in many ways.

    There is a difference between a tool or resource becoming more popular because of it’s benefit to personal/professional growth, and it becoming popular because it is the “in” thing to do. To me the whole purpose is becoming more informed, sharing what I may know, and using all of that to make me a better educator and colleague.

    I don’t want to participate in any kind of a popularity contest. I have no need to relive high school level drama. I do love that more people are sharing and contributing to the knowledge base. And, I love that I have multiple of ways of learning from and contributing to that knowledge base.

    Hopefully, it will settle back down into the collaborative give-and-take that can be so valuable for us all. Hopefully personal egos will stay out, so personal learning can stay in.

  15. Adina Sullivan says:

    Just to add/respond to JLWagner’s comments about complications with following/followers…I hope we don’t get to the point where anyone feels an obligation to follow or be followed by anyone in particular. If that becomes the case, we lose a lot. I personally keep my following limited because I don’t have the time or need to see a gazillion tweets or feeds every minute/day. I also have no issue with someone who does not follow me. I’ve even started to block some (with some admittedly guilty feelings) because there appears to be is no/or little common ground. Some people only appear interested in their numbers. Please, let’s not make this any more complicated than it needs to be. Learn, Share, Grow. :-)

  16. simon says:

    Seems a little bitter! What aren’t you getting from twitter that it gave you before?
    I guess you need to be able to ignore posts that have no meaning or are self-indulgent exercises in self-promotion and pettiness!!!

    I have found many sites / programms that would have taken years or in some cases never being found, some are great some are no good, But at least i get the chance to choose!
    I see a collaborative give-and-take that can be so valuable to learning and will be such a large part of pupils lives in later years!

  17. Steve Dembo says:

    While I agree with several of your points in this post, I wholeheartedly disagree with others. Your analogy seems to imply that ‘conversation’ is a finite resource. And one person talking more than others forces other people to step it up or be lost in the shuffle. You neglect to point out that each individual has the ability to drop anyone that they don’t want to listen to anymore. They’re under complete control of their environment. If someone really does feel the need to try to ‘outpost’ people, then others have complete control to drop, mute or block that person. What’s the problem?

    You close with, “Twitter has diverted many from what is important, what should be the true goal.” I think you’re trying to turn Twitter into something much more significant than it really is. As it says on the front page of Twitter.com, “Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?” That’s it. To communicate and stay connected. And isn’t that what people are doing?

    I’ll be brutally honest, I think the main reason that Twitter has become so successful is BECAUSE it isn’t so highly focused on improving classroom learning, and raising test scores, and critically thinking about 21st century skills and blah blah blah. Twitter connects people to others that have similar interests and speak the same language. BUT, that doesn’t mean that the conversation has to be focused around education. Isn’t it enough to connect and chat? Since education tends to be the common thread that binds us, its natural that much of the conversation swings that way, but to say that it’s the True Goal is way off base to me.

    You’re lucky enough to travel and go to many conferences, and meet most of the people you read or admire. Most people aren’t. So when they say that they follow you on Twitter, they’re trying to provide you with a context, let you know there’s a connection between you two, even if you don’t know it. Personally, I’m flattered when people introduce themselves that way. And with respects to people at EduCon hanging out and talking to each other instead of checking out the school, as I said, you have lots of opportunities to meet people you network with online. For many people, that trip was probably their only trip of the year. It’s unfair to criticize them for being excited to meet people they’ve been communicating with in person for the first time. It’s human nature.

    I follow over 1,000 people. Why? Because I don’t want to constrain myself to the people I know already, the voices I’m already used to hearing. I think someone who joins the conversation today has just as much to say as someone I’ve been seeing at conferences for years. While some people may assume differently, it really isn’t about numbers to me. It’s about connecting with others, branching out, and ideally, helping others to connect with each other. And not just around education. I remember doing a Twitterpoll several months ago asking, “If Twitter conversation could ONLY revolve around education, (no social talk), would you still participate?” Most people answered “No” or a very lukewarm “Yes”.

    And let’s be honest, would you still participate if you couldn’t talk about the Cubs/Sox, or Pot Roast Nachos? It’s easy to say that you would, but I’m guessing it wouldn’t be all that sticky to most people. So in my not-so-humble opinion, people should quit trying to turn Twitter into something more than it is meant to be; a way for people to connect and communicate. That’s it.

    *steps off the soapbox*

  18. @Jakes

    > At its best, Twitter is a place to share a resource, a link to a new blog post, or an insight, and even a place to have a little fun. It’s a place that could be about learning. At its very worst, Twitter is a self-indulgent exercise in self-promotion and pettiness.


    > Those people that have lived off twitter at the expense of their aggregator, have in my opinion, traded in full meals for snack food. I like snacks as much as the next guy but understand I need more substance than that. But the good news is there’s lots to go around.

    Touch ‘em all, both of you. And throw in a few extra points while you’re at it.

  19. Nadine N says:

    Thanks for your well-written post. It really puts things in perspective. I got caught up in the cocktail party analogy when Wes Fryer posted a short list of outstanding educators and presenters, all of whom are prominent bloggers. I wondered if one has to be a prominent blogger to be considered an outstanding educator. In reality, Wes Fryer doesn’t know me from Adam. Neither does David Jakes. Why should I be on anyone’s blog post or why should anyone in particular want to follow me in twitter? I thought at first that I should be promoting my blog or whatever so I could be invited to the party, but I quickly got over myself. I know that I’m making a contribution as an outstanding educator every time I send a fellow twit a link, an idea, a suggestion, or words of encouragement and I get a response, “@nnorris Thanks!”. The power of the network is not who you know, it’s who you impact, even in small ways.

  20. I found your posting thought-provoking and compelling. Thanks for your input. I will read this again, deliberating upon these trends and issues of social networking, professional development and personal growth.

  21. So, why don’t you follow me on ?! But seriously, while clothes and manners do tend to become less and less formal now (at a pretty involved presentation I visited yesterday, my husband and I were the only people not wearing jeans), I don’t think breaching of good manners, such as asking somebody why they don’t reciprocate in some social exchange, is particularly new, or produced by Twitter. However, what I do see changing is the etiquette of getting to know new persons, introductions, the whole “dance” of increasing closeness, and the notion of personal distance.

    I have been using Twitter for less than a week, so it’s still fresh and new for me. While it’s text-based, the activity feels quite different from either reading or writing, which encompass all your examples of “the fundamentals” such as blog aggregators or articles. In fact, Twitter feels closest to a massively multiplayer game, say, Eve Online or World of Warcraft. As such, it satisfies human needs very different from those that reading or writing articles does: the need for connection, for real-time presence in a space inhabited by others, for a sympathetic ear, for a responsive (in real time) environment, for emotional comfort here-and-now. It invokes its own metaphors, different from blogging.

    As for the tragedy of the commons model, as applied to Twitter, I would like to ask you which limited resources did you mean here? My guess would be time and attention of each individual reader, but I have my doubts, mainly because everybody subscribes to the people they want to hear, and to these people only – having much control over content. If I shout too much nonsense into the Twitter “space”, people will drop my feed and won’t hear me anymore – unlike a tv station or a conference, I won’t push someone else’s good quality content away. So, what are the limited, shared resources then?

  22. Aly Tapp says:

    Interesting post, but I felt a little chastised, and that’s unfortunate because that’s exactly what I’m trying to avoid in conversations with teachers who are just starting to develop their online PLN. I tell them to go to this quirky site called twitter and send out a few tweets. I tell them to say anything at first — just try it. I don’t give them rules. I don’t say, “Use twitter only if you have something great to say, or people will resent your being there. They need to be there precisely because they don’t yet know what the conversation is. Twitter might be the hook that gets them caring about educational technology in the first place.

    As for the conference greeting, I can attest to the slight thrill I experienced the first time I met someone at a conference that I would not have ever otherwise met. I respected this person based on his tweets, and meeting him placed a real face with that tiny little avatar. I also remember the first time someone came up to me and blurted out, “Hey, I know you! I follow you in twitter!” That gave us a context for a much more interesting conversation. (Yes, I echo Dembo here — I remember meeting him at a conference and thinking, “Hey, that’s Steve Dembo.” I attended his session later that day. I also subscribed to his blog. And all thanks to twitter.

    I’m also concerned about the notion that twitter is only for a certain kind of conversation. I’m thinking of the folks I don’t follow because I don’t really want to hear about how drunk they were last night, or just how cold the *^@*! hostel was last night. If they saw my network’s conversation, they might blog about how serious twitter has become, and how tiresome they find all this conversation over the merits of diigo versus delicious. Yet twitter belongs to them just as much as it belongs to us, doesn’t it?

    Thanks to twitter, I’m commenting here. A side comment in twitter and off I went to find out what was buzzing in your blog. And yes, I’m about to add you to my reader. You made me just a bit uncomfortable. Well done!

  23. @djakes I have to say that I was personally insulted when I first read this post. But then I took a second read and realized that, of course, you weren’t talking about me. You don’t even know me. The fact that I follow you on Twitter might have made me think I know you, when in fact I only know ‘about’ you. The reason I took offense was because I really enjoy my Twitter relationships. I frequently try to figure out why that’s the case and it always comes back to a few things. I like relationships seems to be the main thing. I spent a good 4 years doing what my district calls tech integration. I was an island – even to the point of questioning if changing instruction was really the right path. Then, I stumbled on to the K12 online conference in 2006, started a blog, developed an RSS reader, and started to make some connections. Now, with a new initiative in my area I’ve come to know tons more people that are like minded and we live all over the state. Twitter is a way for us to stay connected, share resources, validate one another and even question one another on what we’re doing.

    In addition to those folks, I attended Educon and met others that I now communicate with through Twitter. I saw you there – purposely didn’t introduce myself with ‘ I follow you on Twitter’ , but then didn’t get to meet you at all. I’m hoping to make that f2f connection at NECC. I’m nervous that what I have to say might not be important to anyone else, but I’m also anxious to hear what folks I follow have to say, not just write. I’m not looking to be anybody more/different than I am already – I’m looking to share my thinking and continue to refine my goals and path down the road.

    I’m not an island anymore. I work hard to be sure I contribute to the commons – when I introduce folks to Twitter that’s my first advice. Share out as well as take away!

  24. David,

    I guess I’m more of the mind of –do what works for you. Some people like Classroom 2.0 to gather in, some people like blogging, some people like reading a print journal, some people like twitter, and some like combinations of all of the above.

    I personally like the “mixed bbq plate” myself–I get depth from blogs, but find things I would never run across otherwise via Twitter. I learn from print journals and authors I might not find blogging, but then again, I wouldn’t notice some of the articles except that a twitterer I’ve followed wrote it. Connections make things more meaningful for me, just like we know they do for our students.

    And I think sometimes those who seem to be promoting themselves or what they are doing are actually trying to share, and sometimes there’s learning to be had there–finding out what is going on at someone’s campus or some really cool workshop they are doing can also be a path for growth. If people are connecting and learning….then I’m all for that.

    So, my vote goes for the mixed plate maybe with some nachos on the side ;)

  25. I also ran across this link about using Twitter in academia, which I know has circulated around, but I thought might be pertinent for consideration in this discussion.


    I’m sharing this not as a defense, but just as a possibility about options?

  26. Diana Kenney says:

    I read your post yesterday and it really troubled me. I carefully read through each reader comment and became more troubled with all the readers that were in agreement with you. I wanted to wait a day to comment so I had the time to really think how to best respond.
    I came back to this post first thing this morning after seeing Steve Dembo’s Tweet yesterday saying he was going to comment. Steve expresses so eloquently most of what I’m feeling. I only want to add a few comments.
    I check out Twitter several times a day because the people I follow are educators and tech innovators like myself. You see, in my district I am the lone staff developer. I don’t have colleagues that have the knowledge and resources that my Twitter network shares with me everyday. I appreciate all the sharing that my network of innovative educators contributes all day every day!
    As Steve stated, I get to go to one or two conferences a year. I was fortunate to attend EduCon 2.0 this year…on my own dime. This was a huge wow for me. I developed face-to-face relationships with people I had only known through blogs or Twitter. I’m from California but feel connected to educators from all over the world because of Twitter.
    Finally, I think I may have been one those people that approached you at the CUE Conference in Palm Springs (Paid by district) after one of your fabulous presentations. I thanked you and mentioned something about following you on Twitter…yes, you definitely were not flattered and I left the room feeling like a fool.

    Please consider that while you may feel very connected…some of us are trying to make a difference for our students, teachers and communities and rely on our networks for support to continue this work.

    Thanks for listening,

  27. Wesley Fryer says:

    David: I think we’re going to continue to see different people in different places use tools for different reasons in different contexts. What we need to continue to do, as you point out, is use these tools for personal growth and development. The professional learning community is important not because of how many people “read me” or “follow me,” but because of the learning that takes place in a PD context, and the impact that makes on student learning inside and outside the classroom.

    I am not disappointed or disheartened by this conversation about “cocktail parties,” I’m delighted that the transparency and accessibility which is afforded to the thoughts of others via blogs and other tools like Twitter allows us to hash out and talk about these issues. I think it gives us a chance to examine what we are doing, question what we are doing and WHY we are doing those things, and adjust our perceptions as well as actions accordingly.

    NECC08 is going to be very interesting. I missed the bloggercon event in Atlanta last year because of family commitments, but am expecting to make it to San Antonio this year for the pre-conference events. This would make a great unconference / discussion session and panel: Why blog and engage actively in online professional learning communities?

  28. [...] Because of problems on the TechLearning blog with commenting, I am cross-posting this over here so you may comment here if you are not able to comment there. (I wasn’t able to directly comment this morning on Dave Jakes post from yesterday, so I’m following his lead.) [...]

  29. Dave Sherman says:

    I totally agree with you regarding Twitter. It reminds me of my teen years in the 1970s when the CB radio was all the rage. People were talking all day long on the CB to a little clique of pseudo-friends, but they were saying nothing important about anything. On Twitter, I am seeing a lot of very silly conversations, and very little true discourse about anything.
    I feel that my own limited Internet time is better spent reading blog posts and writing comments.

  30. Ann Oro says:

    Hi David:
    I’m not as new as I once was to all things in ed tech conversation on the Internet; although I still feel like the new kid on the block. One of the hardest things coming in is learning the rules that work for oneself in all these tools. In the late summer, I was befriended by a few teachers in NY and MD. They gave me “permission” to follow them on Twitter and told me that it was fine to just start adding people. It became confusing fast. I couldn’t remember who was and was not following me. So I came to a 1:1 follow/ follower situation.

    I have made great connections that have enabled my students to work with others around the world. Some projects turn out better than others, but in many ways Twitter has become my place for making those connections. I’m a member of the Classroom 2.0 ning as well, but Twitter is more immediate. I’m on and off Twitter during the week depending on life. I can see some aspects (like self promotion) and trying to be first to jump into things. I think the longer I’ve been on Twitter the more I can just be myself. I started following you as a goof when someone else mentioned you were at follower 666. I’ve kept you on the list because sometimes you mention you’re Ustreaming something that is valuable to me. I follow Will Richardson for the same reason. If I can give back, when you ask for a tweet to a conference group, I’m more than happy to oblige.

    I just started reading Stephen Covey’s The 8th Habit. Interestingly, it’s about finding your voice and helping others find theirs. I have a shocking number of followers (near 290) for a computer teacher at a Catholic school in New Jersey. I can’t say I’ll be able to stay 1:1 when I have however many followers it is you have now (Twitter seems to be down), but at this point if I seem to be helpful enough to others that they want to follow me – that’s great. My setting is protected for my own set of reasons. As long as they’re an educator, keep to the education platform for the most part, keep the twits professional enough so I don’t worry about what my sons might see over my should, I follow and allow them in my network.

    People have been downright open in ways I couldn’t have imagined. I’ve had a book posted to me from England on loan. I’ve had a significant amount of time saved troubleshooting a screen problem on the Mac. I’ve had someone send me a mug as a show and tell item to accompany a print article for some internal PD I’ll be doing. In addition, I’ve been able to become better acquainted in some day to day chit chat.

    I enjoy the little I know of you from your blog, tweets, and Ustream to comments others have made since I’ve found the blogsphere. Just remember, someday when I walk up to you to say hello, it’s because I’ve found your work of great value. I may fumble a bit since we really don’t know each other. I’ll take a while to find my face to face voice, just as it’s taken me a year to find my blogging and Twitter voice. Someday, I’ll be at ease in that respect. You can’t imagine, but saying “I follow you on Twitter” might be the first thing a person can think of to say to show that they know you a bit. The “why don’t you follow me back, this is a cocktail party” mentality is something I don’t subscribe to. If you had to have several hundred random tweets constantly scrolling, the tool probably wouldn’t work for you the way you need it to.

    I haven’t been around very long, but I just wanted to add my take on your post. It’s been an interesting personal journey for me.

  31. diane says:


    I never would have “met” Cathy, Jen, Kate, and a host of other people who are friends and colleagues without Twitter. I need the humanizing elements of our interactions, which I feel complement rather than obscure our professional exchanges of information. If we want global connections, if Clay in South Korea, Sue in Australia, Julie in Qatar, Carolyn in Texas, Linda in western NY, and others are to become part of my PLN: how will this happen without a way to communicate quickly and easily? I still access my Google Reader and update my blog. But I won’t be giving up Twitter any time soon.


  32. Clay Burell says:

    I’ve read about half the comments, and want to get my own in (sorry I’m late to the party).

    The dismissals of Twitter as idle chatter, first of all, or stunted substitutes for extended thinking, miss something I’ve noted (and practiced) on a number of occasions: Twitter is a launchpad, not a landing one, for thought and connection. Examples: many of my podcasts start as ideas flitting across Twitter, small exchanges, and then end with the Tweet: “Want to Skype for a podcast?” At least three or four podcasts have come from this approach since I started tweeting regularly in January.

    I like the metaphor – and I use it with my students – of all these web 2.0 tools as “different trapezes.” In isolation, they’re pretty limiting. We have to be “gymnastic” with them, and swing from one to the other as whim and inspiration strike us. Here’s my favorite trapeze act of late:

    Twitter to Skype to Garageband to posted podcast on Blog to blog Comment Thread to Trackbacks ad infinitum

    You notice my entry trapeze is Twitter. You notice my exit trapeze is blog conversations. Twitter is that indispensable for me these days.

    But we’re all experimenting in this new Wild West. Let’s keep the carny interesting with the acts we bring to it. They’re all educational, all learning experiences, good and bad.

    To change metaphors: we’re evangelizing this stuff, but it’s all so new we can’t be too “expert” at it. We’re not only evangelists of the new Gospel – we’re also its guinea pigs. We’re experimenting on ourselves. So it’s good for us to experience the abuses, the extremes, so we can, to riff off your post, “to better help kids learn.”

    Good on ya for spurring people to articulate all those comments. They’re valuable.

  33. Clay Burell says:

    Sorry, afterthought: I’m also very isolated in Korea, go to maybe one conference a year, don’t travel giving workshops, etc – so Twitter is my “weak tie.” And a strong one.

  34. DSJ says:

    I’m in the process of “processing” all this…been very busy so I will respond shortly to everyone’s ideas. David

  35. Jon Becker says:

    David, I’m not sure, but I think you’ve insulted me here, a couple of ways. First, I think I started the whole “cocktail party” notion which you deem “ridiculous.” I think if you read my original post, you’ll see that the message there has been terribly distorted throughout the blogosphere. I certainly wasn’t “promoting” anything; I was reflecting (which is exactly what you say we should be doing with our Web 2.0 tools). Second, why not link to my post? Yes, nobody owns conversations, everything is miscellaneous, blah, blah, blah…but I’m pretty careful about giving pingback love when I can.

    Finally, I agree with Scott McLeod’s comment. What are we stepping up to at NECC? I don’t get that part of the argument you’re making. And, actually, I don’t really get the logic of the “Tragedy of the Commons” metaphor either. Is Twitter being destroyed by overconsumption? I believe that can only be the case if you’ve added too many followers who are not using Twitter in ways that are useful for you. But, you can control that to a degree. You can configure Twitter to be a common area that works for you. I’ve followed you for a while, and I’ve kept it that way because you’ve contributed to my PLN through Twitter in really useful ways FOR ME. I just don’t see how Twitter can be overconsumed or exploited.

    For me, Twitter has become a vital part of my learning toolkit. I look forward to subsequent discussions/conversations about how Twitter can be used for different people in different circumstances. So, towards that end, thanks for starting a conversation.

  36. Diana Kenney says:

    In response to Clay Burell,

    Perfectly said. I’m in California, but feel very isolated. Twitter is my “strong tie” to all the amazing work being done all over the world!
    Thanks for your words.

  37. A collection of some metaphors found in comments! Note that even common words, such as “place” for example, are metaphoric here, because Twitter’s not “really” a place, but we can think about it as such and it helps us construct some meaning. Some metaphors are more colorful, though, but all are pretty fascinating, in a collection of commenter voices. Or maybe it’s just because metaphors form such a large part of most research frameworks I make or use.

    Twitter is…
    - digital commons (DSJ)
    - a place (DSJ, Cathy Nelson)
    - PLN, Personal Learning Network (Cathy Nelson, Diana Kenney)
    - learning tool (Kate Olson)
    - cellphone IM (Michael)
    - a way to banter (Michael)
    - dissemination of knowledge (Lorna Costantini)
    - a portal of a town crier (JLWagner)
    - snack food (Dean Sharesky)
    - frontloader for the process of network creation (Nate Stearns)
    - a way (to connect and communicate) (Steve Dembo, Michelle Krill)
    - like CB radio (Dave Sherman)
    - MMO, Massively Multi-player game Online (MariaDroujkova)
    - the hook (Aly Tapp)
    - a part of a mixed bbq plate with some nachos on the side (Carolyn Foote)
    - a launchpad, not a landing one (Clay Burell)
    - an entry trapeze in a carny (Clay Burell)
    - a weak tie and a strong tie (Clay Burell)

  38. stephanie says:

    Hi David,

    I found this post through a link on twitter. I have learned so much from the people I have met and as a result have done and continue to do an incredible amount of growing and learning. I think that in the end Twitter, as everything else, is only as good as the person who uses it and how they affect change in their lives because of it. I am not a “blogger” and I could really care less about people’s personal standings. I do care what they know and what they think. As a full time classroom teacher, I have found the links to others that I have made through twitter to be invaluable.

    And as a final thought, I did not sign up for twitter to meet and talk ed tech. I signed up to have a way to communicate with my mom, my dad, and my sister. Through twitter my parents have gotten a window into my life and my sister’s life, and we into theirs, and that’s cool.

  39. “God kills a kitten each time you count your Twitter followers. Please, think of the kittens.”

    Paying attention to who’s following who, why, how, when, and where is dangerous. Necessary at times. Unavoidable at times. The entire thing makes for wickedly interesting conversation, both positive and negative.

    Look beyond Twitter. Web 1.0 was connecting people to networks. Web 2.0 is connecting people to people. Twitter’s success is all in it’s ability to get beyond the technology in a fast way and connect person to person. That first person to person moment is the “ahhhh, now I get it” experience. Looking back causes trouble. It’s necessary to examine your tools and methods occasionally, but too much analysis takes your eye off the ball.

  40. Rodd Lucier says:

    In the past many months, I’ve rediscovered Twitter, and instead of charting a course to gather followers, have found far greater value in the following of interesting people. The most compelling twitterers show many sides of their personal and professional personalities. I find that Twitter humanizes the members of my learning community to the point that I’m interested in engaging in conversations that are as personal as they are professional.

    While David may feel that Twitter is changing (negatively?) before our eyes, I think that in its simplicity, Twitter is simply allowing far more voices to be heard. You no longer need to be a blogger or podcaster or conference presenter to challenge the thinking of the hive. In the age of the soundbite, anyone can have a say… and they do!

    Who are you in Twitter-ese…. See if you can find yourself:

    “I’m stuck in an airport” You’re a roadshow ‘expert’ who might have a large carbon footprint.
    “I’ve just posted a blog… podcast… photostory…” You’re a content producer attempting to let your followers know what you’re thinking.
    “@mycolleague…” You’re a person who doesn’t mind evesdroppers… or doesn’t know about private messages
    “I’m hungry… I’m tired… I’m turning in…” You should be eating, or sleeping… not tweeting : )
    “I found this great link…” You’re a micro-blogger!
    “Can anyone help with…” You’re leveraging your network!
    “Hey Twitterverse, give a shout out to…” You’re that roadshow ‘expert’ modeling one limited facet of Twitter
    “Here’s something you non-twitterers should know… from SomeOtherCountry…” You wish you could do that roadshow ‘expert’ trick yourself.

  41. Kim T. says:

    Wow-eee! Lot’s and lot’s of posts here. I guess if I could say anything about Twitter, as a newcomer, only learning about it from my professor of a graduate class, I have to say it has been a wonderful experience. I love sharing information and I can only hope to be of help to others. That is what I get out of this whole Twitter thing. I look at it as helping others and I have learned so much in the past few months through all of the tweets. I have never thought to myself, “why doesn’t everyone want to follow me…l follow them” Who cares? I have no clue who anyone is in this twitterverse, I just found them because of other people’s help. I was given their names, and told they were people to follow. It is OK if they do not want to follow me, I am not trying to win a popularity contest. I am just trying to get by each day with computer classes full of middle school kids. If I can get some insight into my profession in 140 words or less, that is all it is about for me. I appreciate all of the wonderful blogs I have read, and I guess I do not look at it as self promotion, but sharing – of which I would have possibly never discovered without twitter. I do use RSS too, but Twitter is a quick fix.

    Maybe because I am new to this world of twitter, but I do not see a lot of the self promotion. (Sort of!) But isn’t that what it is all about? Is it self promotion or sharing of thoughts? We can decide what we want to read or what we do not want to read. We are big kids, right? I wish we could all just get along! :) P.S. – I would think it a compliment to meet someone in person that I have been learning from on twitter, because I admire them, they inspire me, what they do in the classroom is amazing, they have great things to share, they are pioneers and they are sharing with me what they know! I think I would say hello, it is so great to meet you in person! I really love what you have to say and I have learned so much from you. Is something wrong with that? Maybe I am just not seeing it because I am not in the “in crowd”… I am just looking in from the outside and that is fine with me. Please don’t stop sharing, it might harm more than you think.

  42. DSJ says:

    Hang in there everyone, I’m working on a lengthy response. And Jon, didn’t mean to offend you. I’d be glad to link back to your post if you would like. Let me know….

    Just as a side, many of the responses here about Twitter as a tool to connect, to meet people, to end isolation. This post was not about that. Those are certainly wonderful uses of this kind of resource. This post was about what I considered to be the abuse of Twitter by certain individuals, and the second grade playground mentality of who follows who, and who is in this group, who is in that group, etc. Because you know what, its there. It is, and its not pretty. And if you don’t believe it is, you need to look deeper.

    I appreciate all the emails as well, as well as the Skype messages. They’re quite enjoyable.

  43. Adrienne says:

    Hi David –
    I am relatively new to Twitter but this post was a bit shocking. Second grade playground mentality? really? I don’t see that at all — at least not yet, and maybe that’s because as you’ve said, “I need to look deeper.” Well, the truth is that if I start to see that, I will simply stop following the people who facilitate that kind of mentality. I am an adult: I can choose my friends and all the rest, right? I haven’t seen Twitter “abuse” yet (is there a definition for that, btw? are there people out there using Twitter for harmful purposes?), but when and if I do see it, I know I have a choice in how to participate. In the meantime, I appreciate my Twitter network as one of the unique ways I can learn from others. If someone else learns from me, then that’s great too, but I’m not using it to pontificate or promote my ideas as Those Which Are Best. Those who are… well… they can sort themselves out because I’m not likely to connect with them, face-2-face, or in the Twitter world.

  44. Kate Olson says:

    David –

    Yup, I’m back. I’ve had time to think more about your post and I’ve decided that you’re not truly ranting about twitter or the masses. You’re frustrated with 1 or 2 certain people and instead of dealing with them directly or addressing the issue at their level, you’re doing what so many of us do when we want to rant but not name names. Sometimes that’s ok, if the problem is likely to be an issue for others, but I think the comments here show that the problem ISN’T widespread. I almost wish you would just get it over with and tell us who is bothering you so much, I’m sure everyone else is curious too!

  45. DSJ says:

    @Kate Olson. I guess the worst thing anyone could possibly do would be to talk honestly about the activities on Twitter. The number of comments here attest to the passion that people have for the tool and the ability to connect. Your perceptions are interesting but incorrect.

  46. Mathew says:


    I don’t think “second grade playground mentality” is fair. You’re missing the SOCIAL part of social networking and the reason why Myspace is so compelling. It’s about finding and adding friends as much as finding out information.

    So, although I use Twitter primarily for ed tech info and I’m not going to have to go to therapy because David Jakes isn’t following me , I don’t think the who’s following me/who can I follow social part of Twitter is childish. I think it’s what social networks were built for whether we use them or not.

    The conversations I had at CUE, for example, like… “I know your name.” “Yes, you follow me on Twitter.” Generally became engaging and thought-provoking examinations of tech use and what it means. Those conversations never would have happened without Twitter and they were certainly at a higher level than second grade (grant us at least middle school).

  47. I agree with Jakes that there is definitely a 2nd grade mentality. It is present on Twitter and it’s also spread throughout the blogosphere. Jakes’ observance of the attitudes of people that are actually concerned with “who follows who, and who is in this group, who is in that group” is spot on. And I definitely agree:

    Such an attitude is not healthy (neither for the individual nor for the network).

    In my opinion, this kind of mentality all stems from pride. The thought that “my ideas are significant, others should be following me” is simply an intrinsic display that you think you’ve earned something akin to a “following”. Whatever *that* means.

  48. Kate Olson says:

    Ok, maybe I’m starting to see what you’re really addressing, after Darren’s comment – I guess this just truly doesn’t even enter my mind, which is why I was missing it until now. Yes, analyzing followers/followees IS a 2nd grade mentality and as Darren says probably isn’t healthy. I don’t buy into it and have my own crazy system for who I interact with on twitter and whose blogs I read. I have to say that a significant part of my network is NOT edtech, so maybe that’s why I’m not seeing the behavior – a lot of the people I’m interacting with are in social media/marketing or other business areas and have never even heard of David Jakes, Will Richardson, John Pederson and the like – which isn’t to say y’all aren’t important, but it really points out the big fish-small pond perspective of the edtech world. The ed and edtech niche online is very small in proportion to the overall user base and I think it’s very easy to forget this. Perhaps it would benefit all of us to get over ourselves just BE. And seriously, PLEASE don’t follow me if you’re looking for extreme intellectual stimulation – that’s not why I’m here :-) Social networking is all about social, in whatever way you would like to interpret that. If your idea of a great party is sitting around discussing educational philosophy, great. If your idea of fun is completely different, that’s great too. In the same way that we don’t all socialize at the same level in “real life” neither do we have to here. I’m guessing most of you wouldn’t choose to hang out with me on the weekends outside of twitter and blogging! By the way, I love this discussion – it really highlights the complete range of perspectives.

  49. Kate,

    I’m afraid that social networking isn’t “all about social”. There’s FAR more to it than that. Take Classroom 2.0, for example. To think that members of that network are there simply to socialize is to overlook the entire reason the network was created in the first place. The network was created to improve classroom instruction, teacher attitudes, and school practice.

    Indeed, there is far more to social networking than “the social”.

  50. Kate Olson says:

    Darren –
    Thanks for calling me on my too-quickly typed explanation of “all about social”. What I meant to convey was that all of these applications are optional – as is socializing. I’m a member of Classroom 2.0 and am a great fan of the network and the purpose of it. However, it is just one of many forms of social networking – there are networks with rules and networks without. Classroom 2.0 would be a great example of a social network with rules, as advertising is not allowed and there is a basic code of conduct and standardized tagging. These rules help the network work toward the common goal. The point I’m trying to get across is that twitter is NOT like that. There are no prescribed rules (and shouldn’t be). The neat thing about it is that it’s an emerging force, and I think Clay said it perfectly in his comment above:

    “To change metaphors: we’re evangelizing this stuff, but it’s all so new we can’t be too “expert” at it. We’re not only evangelists of the new Gospel – we’re also its guinea pigs. We’re experimenting on ourselves. So it’s good for us to experience the abuses, the extremes, so we can, to riff off your post, “to better help kids learn.”

    Seriously, twitter is not OURS. If people want twitter to act and be used a certain way, it’s time to step up and create/find a service that allows this. For the record, I feel the same about blogging. Prescriptions for use bog us down and stifle creativity and innovation. But what do I know, I’m just a part-time teacher :-)

  51. James O'Hagan says:

    Well said.

    Now, if I can workout the API on the latest iteration of Spangle, we might be able to go on an invite only beta. Spangle will be huge if we can make sure that collab functionality we talked about does not memory leak all over the place.


  52. Kate (and Clay and whomever else is listening),

    I agree that Clay makes a good point. There are no experts on this stuff – or rather, we are the experts, examining ourselves. This is definitely a complex ball of wax that we’re all learning to navigate.

    Thanks for the conversation,


    P.S. I follow you on Twitter, Kate, and you’re smarter than you give yourself credit. :)

  53. Penelope says:

    Kate has just nailed why all blog posts about how the group isn’t using some web tool the way the poster wants them to annoy me.

    If someone created twitter to be for high-level discourse, or made an educators-only network like it with the purpose of all those good things you want us to do, I’d understand your complaint. That’s not what twitter is. The ed and edtech communities don’t own it, don’t make the rules for how it’s used: it has many uses among many different people, a tiny fraction of whom even care about our big issues.

    Places like Classroom 2.0 are created for a specific, education-related purpose. Places like twitter, facebook, myspace, are created to allow socialization but don’t generally impose a specific purpose or rules on it. It’s totally fine to decide that you, personally, will use facebook for professional contacts only and twitter for primarily educational discourse, but it is not reasonable to expect that other people will. There is no shared purpose for twitter beyond communication. To act like there’s a shared purpose that’s somehow being betrayed because other people have different expectations of a tool than the ones you imposed on it is pretty ridiculous.

    I don’t approve of the obsession with who follows who, but how different is it than obsession with your technorati stats or blog reach?

    Any time you put people in a social situation, they start to worry about their influence and acceptability. Any time that situation has ways of measuring those things, some people will become obsessed with them. If you don’t care about them, then just ignore those who do. It’s not going to go away.

  54. DSJ says:

    @Penelope. I have no obsession with my technorati stats or blog reach. Couldn’t care less, so that you know. And as for shared purpose, I would think that would be about improving teaching and learning…but perhaps that isn’t the goal afterall and perhaps I shouldn’t extend that belief onto the interactions in Twitter. My bad.

  55. Are second graders really such horrible people with horrible mentalities as they are pictured in this thread?

  56. Frank's Blog says:

    Quite frankly, I’ll use twitter as I decide to (Isn’t that the point?). When it comes to resources, I believe in abundance models over scarcity anyway. If twitter facilitates bringing more people into the conversation, then great. Inclusion and fresh voices, even if not using big fancy words or academically-refined concepts, have value to me. Even though I do read many of the high-visibility blogs that I have learned about through twitter and other feeds, the ones that I enjoy the most are those that I have found on the fringes. There is much more abundance at the base of the iceberg than at the visible tip. Just keeping an eye on the top can be dangerous, Titanic as proof. I follow and am followed by 400+ people; and I haven’t seen an onslaught of behavior that concerns me in anyway significant way. I take what I need and let the rest go. When I do feel that someone that I am following is adding too much “noise,” I have a choice to unfollow them. And, I have done so. The last few weeks there has been increasing chatter in twitter and the edutech blogosphere about what is and what isn’t appropriate use of twitter and other social networking tools. I just don’t agree with that mentality. People learn, process, and share in different ways. And, that is a good thing! Let’s not over analyze it. But if you do, that is OK, too! Every voice counts.

  57. Ryan Bretag says:

    A quote and question (from Smith’s Notes) to ponder from Christopher Lasch’s The Culture of Narcissism:

    “The culture of competitive individualism, which in its decadence has carried the logic of the individualism to the extreme of war of all against all, the pursuit of happiness to the dead end of a narcissistic preoccupation with the self.”

    “Is society’s obsession with appearances a cause (or metaphor) for its tendency toward anti-intellectualism, i.e. a refusal to not only look deeper but to think deeply as well?”

  58. diane says:

    “Clearly no group can as an entity create ideas. Only individuals can do this. A group of individuals may, however, stimulate one another in the creation of ideas.” -Estill I. Green

  59. David Jakes says:

    There’s nothing wrong with a second grade mentality, as long as you are a second grader.

  60. [...] Commentary in response to blog post by David Jakes (sorry–we’re a little long winded, but we just had to do it…). If you’re [...]

  61. Wow I am getting to this late…am behind in following my tweets ;-)
    @mmkrill… I thought it was interesting that you mentioned how you enjoy your twitter RELATIONSHIPS….the difference is you do have twitter RELATIONSHIPS and that is key. These are easy to develop with manageble followings …when there are thousands of people “following you” like in the case of jakes, richardson…they don’t need to follow back all the folks…because they do a good job of engaging in the conversation. without having to develop “relationships” with thousands. It would be impossible and would leave them as Shareski said, only constantly snacking. LIke Carolyn –I get depth from blogs, but find things I would never run across otherwise via Twitter. Does that mean that I am going to add the blog of every good poster to my reader? Maybe….but I tend to like to find new things and twitter helps with that. I think the 2nd grade analogy is actually a GOOD one (or you could call it middle school or freshman for that matter :) but I have seen the ….can someone who follows @somebody please tell them…. because they don’t follow me…posts…I can see where folks with lots of followers would feel that it was a who’s following who situation. The thing to remember is that folks who use twitter a lot know good ways to use it that work…
    Adina makes a great point to which I concur. I hope we don’t get to the point where anyone feels an obligation to follow or be followed by anyone in particular. I find that the more folks I try to follow the less value the network has for ME. I personally can’t manage 700 “friends” in twitter…I feel like I MISS more of the “conversation” by even attempting to do that. I do however use twitterific, and tweetscan to follow conversations…because really it isn’t about how many friends you have, but what value those folks have to your professional learning. Wes, I would LOVE to attend that session because as Diana said…there are 2 sides…the ones that are desperately trying to connect and those who are trying not to drown in their connectivity:)
    Very interesting conversation David…thanks

  62. Clay Burell says:

    Kristin, that’s interesting. I’m not being snarky at all, just analytic (and we’ve bumped into each other enough times here and there to trust we’re both good-willed, so I know you’ll take this how I mean it), when I say:

    I follow about 600 people right now. Two months ago I was following maybe 200. I chose to follow 600 because . . . I wanted to learn, by experience, what that feels like.

    So, as I said above, since many of us are “experimenting on ourselves” in this world – and I certainly am with the high-volume following and followers – I’d hate to encourage people to automatically read that as “desperately trying to connect” when, for all they know, a person might be “calmly satisfying a curiosity” instead.

    600 feels different, by the way, from 200, in interesting ways. Some good, some bad. But interesting. More like lurking or people-watching. But it doesn’t feel crowded to me at all.

    It does feel like a festival, though, instead of an intimate cocktail party. A never-ending festival.

    So many people to meet on the other side of the arena. Plenty of time, if ever, to do that.

    (Hey Kristin, we never did follow up on the Creationism/Intelligent Design campaign – against, people, not for ((me, anyway)) – we talked about months ago. Shall we?)

  63. Stu says:

    I said the same thing, not so eliquently, a few months ago and people bashed me for questioning twitter. I must not be high enough in the edtech twitter chain…(-: David, thanks for looking at the other side. Teaching(Learning) happens IN the classroom(virtual or otherwise), not on Twitter.

  64. [...] didn’t create this crazy little tool just for educators? Really? I’ve commented on a certain post too many times already and decided to just write my own post rather than cluttering up the comments [...]

  65. DSJ says:

    @Stu. Yes, right now, don’t say anything negative about Twitter, or how people use it. Proceed at your own risk!!

  66. Jon Becker says:

    @stu – what if Twitter is a significant part of my “classroom” (whatever that is)?

  67. DSJ says:

    @Jon. Please explain how, because I would be interested to know. I think an actual comment that might address how this is purposeful in learning would be highly appropriate.

  68. Tech Teacher says:

    This blog post had a very compelling start and an uplifting end. It’s the mid section that seems to be causing the ruckus. That’s where the post degrades into attacks on individuals which, in turn, insulted members of the community.

    You imply that your Twitter network does not meet your standards for learning and sharing. Why not follow a different group of people then? You are eliminating a lot of people who wish to be involved in your conversation. Maybe the ideal mix of learning and sharing exists among these overlooked individuals. Rather than arbitrarily dismissing each new follower, why not take a closer look and decide if that individual could help shape your Twitter network in a positive way?

    How would you rate your own contributions to Twitter? What percentage of your Twitter messages are of value to others? What we say in Twitter has an affect on the messages we get in return. Why not follow your own advice and turn Twitter into the tool you want it to be. Ask thoughtful questions, share your reflections, and spark discussions. Twitter can be anything you want it to be.

  69. David,

    Interesting post. I don’t have time to keep track of who follows me or reciprocates when I follow them. What’s important to me is how my students, my colleagues, and I benefit from these relationships. When I think of those benefits, it’s worth a little extra “noise”. I met people through Twitter who pointed me to Ed Tech Talk, included my children in a 48 hour blog, provided contacts for new courses I will be teaching, and provided feedback for my graduate research. Wow. That’s pretty powerful. I feel obligated to give back by posting useful information that others might use. That’s even more powerful.

    On a side note, your blog and the comments that are collected here are a beautiful reflection of the self-regulating aspect of social networks. Thanks for the food for thought and provocative discussion.

    Wendy :-)

  70. What are good mechanisms that can REMIND people to learn? Montessori, her followers, and then Reggio Emilia people, among others, wrote about the importance of making learning stations highly visible and easily accessible. Talking about time and task management, I use the metaphor of “ping.” A physical learning station sends a ping – a little signal – to kids whenever they glance that way. The learning station beckons: “Hey, come do something here.”

    When people want to learn or change their behavior, they have to set up a system that will ping them frequently, reminding them to do their new learning tasks. Adults rarely set up physical learning stations, but they may leave books in highly visible places around the house, subscribe to regular newsletters, sign up for learning programs where they have to perform tasks regularly, and so on. Twitter, in my mind, is a decent tool for receiving pings about a general area of interest to you. The small size of each message makes pinging more efficients to me; some blog aggregators automatically cut off most of the message, but the point may not be in the first few lines, so it’s not as good for that purpose as man-made summaries of Twitter. On any given page, there likely to be ideas people are thinking at the moment, links to blog posts if you want slower discussions, links to conferences, online events, videos, or all of that. It’s like a room full of Montessorian learning station boxes that you can pull out and explore.

  71. DSJ says:

    @TechTeacher. Sorry you didn’t like the middle. Like any network, my network is a state of flux. I add and delete people. The issue for me is when I receive comments or email about why I removed someone. I can’t follow everyone that follows me. And most people said, including you, it can be anything you want it to be. So, I want it to be this FOR ME-free of individuals who self-promote on a grand scale. It seems that others won’t accept that that is my own personal “line in the sand”, and many who have posted here and numerous other places, criticize me for doing just the very thing they advocate, and that’s making it anything you want it to be.

    For attacks on individuals, where? Because I said its not my responsibility to follow you? Because I linked to a person’s blog who insulted me? That’s my right! If you don’t want to be linked to, don’t write.

    People, I’m sorry I offended you. I’m sorry I put up my thoughts about what I considered to be an issue.

  72. Jon Becker says:

    I suppose I shouldn’t have been so short…my own personal “classroom” has no boundaries (I mean that in a physical sense; not a normative sense). Within that boundless space, I use lots of tools: RSS aggregator, Twitter, blogging, general Web browsing, etc. all in the pursuit of learning. I’m constantly adding, subtracting and modifying the tools to suit my own learning needs. Like I wrote in my original comment, “I’ve followed you for a while, and I’ve kept it that way because you’ve contributed to my PLN through Twitter in really useful ways FOR ME.” DSJ, about Twitter you wrote, “It’s a place that could be about learning. At its very worst, Twitter is a self-indulgent exercise in self-promotion and pettiness.” So, the first part is what I’m getting at. But, I guess I’m not experiencing the latter problem. If you are, that really sucks and I’m really sorry to hear that.

    Like my now infamous “cocktail party” post, this post is generating LOTS of discussion that I think is discomforting to a lot of folks. IMHO, one person’s discomfort is another person’s learning opportunity. In other words, this discussion has been a great learning opportunity for me. Some would like the discussion to end. I don’t; I want to keep being challenged and to learn that way.

  73. David Jakes says:

    Jon: good for you…

  74. Is this why we love Twitter?

    > The conversation is the relationship. If the conversation stops, all possibilities for the relationship become smaller and all possibilities for the individuals in the relationship become smaller, until one day we overhear ourselves in mid-sentence, making ourselves smaller in every encounter, behaving as if we are just the space around our shoes, engaged in yet another three-minute conversation so empty of meaning it crackles.

    From this site ( http://tinyurl.com/5kqt5r ) which I got from @jonbecker who, in turn, got it from @mguhlin – all through Twitter.

    BTW, Jakes, sorry for the Friendfeed spam. Is making a Twitter broadcast announcing every blog post you ever write an inappropriate use of Twitter?

  75. [...] love to read about how people interpret and use tools.  This one from Jakes was another big conversation.  I commented early, not really getting into the defense or torching [...]

  76. David Jakes says:

    To Do U What I C: tried commenting a number of times, your blog ate my comments repeatedly, so here they are:

    Again, go back and read the post-its not about Twitter!!! It’s about what I considered to be the inappropriate USE of Twitter-its my perspective, that’s all. Everyone has there own guidelines for what they consider to be appropriate or inappropriate-I just stated mine, thats all. But very few will give me that latitude, and what I have come to realize is that there is a lot of fanatics out there-why the passion for 140 characters?

    Lisa, sorry to make you angry. You can get in line with all the rest.

    Diane: I’m not talking about about the fun, help, sympathy, and encouragement you receive there. I’m talking about the blatant over the top, out compete everyone, me first attitude that some have-the type of use that distracts from the very things you like. I am not talking about the typical use of Twitter that you describe. Why is that so hard to see, or do you just not want to see it?

  77. David, I will speak for myself, but it’s probably similar for at least some of the other commenters. Twitter, among other tools, gives you decent controls over your information field. That is, you can arrange it so that most of the time, you will only USE it the way YOU need, and not even see uses that aren’t appropriate for you. For example, you can’t control people approaching you for the first time in ways you don’t like (e.g. private e-mail), but you can easily arrange it so that these people won’t approach you ever again (e.g. by blocking their e-mail).

    So when you talk about inappropriate uses of Twitter, one wonders. Have you arranged your Twitter use to be appropriate for your needs? Maybe you are saying you can’t do that, not with Twitter. But if you use Twitter in ways you personally like, why not assume others use it in ways they like, too? Or are you grieving the fact that not as many people as you’d like to see share your vision of HOW make Twitter appropriate, exactly?

    In short: are you saying the tool is not good for YOUR needs, or are you telling others they are doing it wrong for THEIR needs, or are you telling other people from your network they aren’t cooperating with your needs well enough? I think this is the part where your commenters get confused. I know I am at this point.

  78. DSJ says:

    @MariaDroujkova: Twitter works very well for me, I use it for a variety of purposes. The other day I asked for suggestions for an article and I got about 10 really nice ideas back. Like many, I like to have some fun there too. So the tool does work well for me. The people that follow me have always been very gracious about helping me when I requested it.

    What’s interesting about this Maria is that the original point of the post has been lost long ago. I’ve been accused of everything under the sun because of this post-most interestingly, being accused of dictating rules on how to use Twitter. I’ve never done that, I’ve simply stated an observation about behavior on Twitter. I think Melanie (comment on Katesays.org) gets it right:

    “I think it’s important to draw a distinction between people who are trying to make rules for everybody and people who define their own terms of use. This is a critical distinction.”

    This is spot on.

  79. diane says:


    “the exploitation of a commonly shared resource” sounds pretty specific to me. I still don’t see how any use is exploitive or inappropriate. Twitter is what you make of it, no more, no less. It’s a choose-you-own-adventure.

    Maybe you need to make better choices.


  80. Aye, I realize now that I still do not have a clear picture of the point of the post, after re-reading the post about many times and following all the comments. That’s why I keep asking questions here. I greatly appreciate the discussion, nevertheless, because it definitely is thought-provoking. Still, I would like to understand what is the point you are trying to make, David! I suspect that the point is somewhat fluid, and that based on discussions since the post was first created, it may have developed beyond the original version.

    You named some problems in the post – some things that are, simply put, bad. My question now is, and I am asking based on the current post-discussion opinion, bad for WHOM? Here is the original list of bad things from your post (I may have missed some):

    1 – “exploitation of the new digital commons”
    2 – “Twitter really has also changed how some people interact, and not in a positive way”
    3 – cliques – “cocktail parties” and “inner circles
    4 – “most stayed in the library bantering about Twitter and finally meeting those people in real life that had become some important in their digital one. What a missed opportunity to observe a truly unique school”
    5 – “Twitter has diverted many from what is important, what should be the true goal. And that’s the real tragedy…”

    From what you said, I assumed that numbers 1, 2 and 4 were bad for you personally – they detracted from your uses of Twitter or the conference as tools toward your goals. But I also thought that in 1, 3, 4 and 5 you were telling others that what they do is bad for them. A real tragedy, even. I thought the original point of the article was to go beyond observation of behavior, into evaluation (or judgment, if you will) of behavior and then some recommendations, explicit and implied, on how to change the behavior, based on the evaluation.

    Commenters basically argue with that point, saying, as you just did, that in their case there is no tragedy, Twitter works very well for them, and they are also generally happy about the behavior of others in their networks.

    But now I wonder if I misinterpreted the original point, and also what the new point is, based on the discussions.

  81. DSJ says:

    Diane: thanks for the advice. I certainly do.

  82. vejraska says:

    Sorry my blog ate your comments- don’t know what that’s about. I really was just saying that the stream of comments here inspired me to write about twitter- I was not directing the post back at you, just reflecting on my own feelings about the tool. Like I said, I love reading other peoples opinions and thoughts about things. That is how I learn. As a new blogger, I am still figuring out how to personally reflect and write as a learning experience for myself, and also realize that it may actually be read by others, and taken in perhaps the wrong way. I’ll continue to learn from you and others, and hope that I don’t piss off too many people in the process.

  83. DSJ says:

    “I thought the original point of the article was to go beyond observation of behavior, into evaluation (or judgment, if you will) of behavior and then some recommendations, explicit and implied, on how to change the behavior, based on the evaluation.”

    No, that was never the point. Simple observations about my experience.

  84. Wow! This discussion is at the same time intense and depressing. Once again, I feel like the kid who doesn’t know the right things to say to be considered cool. I am fairly new to the “echo-chamber,” and as a new member I found it at first very exciting, but I am starting to learn what the author means about the tragedy of commons and not just in regards to Twitter.

    Even as a newbie, one can feel that there are certain names that always turn up. There are the experts that everyone follows. There are the names that carry clout, and then there are the little guys like me, simply trying to make sense of this all.

    Perhaps it is still the novelty of Twitter that makes it worthwhile for me, or perhaps it is my naivety of the Edublog “in” crowd that keeps me out of discussions like this, and for that I am grateful.

    I am a Middle School English teacher obsessed with learning and making connections. So it is a natural link for me to use Web 2.0, both for my own learning, but also to try and figure out what can make my own teaching more productive for my students and their rapidly changing world. Which is ironic because as of now, I don’t even have students, but I haven’t let this stop me from trying to use this network of people help me make the connections I find valuable.

    I have met some great people on Twitter and made some great connections. My followers are slowly growing and I periodically check to see who they are, not to see if the “popular” kids are watching me, but to see if there is someone out there operating on my wavelength that could prove to be an alley in the war against ignorance. I blogged and shared my ideas when no one was reading, and I will continue to do so when a few kindred souls might chime in.

    Let me finished with a quick story: When I was young I wanted to be the next Jack Kerouac, like every wide-eyed idealist, I was going to write prose that would change the world. I quickly realized that I am not that good of a writer, but that has never stopped me from writing. I don’t want to be famous anymore, I simply must write. The same thing is true for blogging. When I started I thought I could get huge numbers of people to read my work and leave 100’s of comments a week, but now I see that I simply need to write and perhaps, I will meet a few people who like what I have to say.

    In closing, Twitter may be old hat for the early crowd, but some of us are still getting good mileage out of it. So come follow that…@intrepidteacher

  85. Melanie says:

    “Right now, I think we are watching Twitter change right before our digital eyes. Be the first with the tool (Diigo, for example), be the first with a post, be the first with the wiki, be the first to uStream, stake your claim in a never-ending game of name building and recognition. Take advantage of the commons, go ahead. But where will that eventually lead to?”

    A: Naked shilling, desire for status and the approval of developers (please endorse my classroom/blog/identity) and the further privatization/corporatization of our public classrooms.

    I’ve observed this as the fundamental difference between the nature of the early adopter researchers and academics who were here at the start and the more recent arrivals of secondary/elementary teachers – the very same one you define above. The first “educators” who arrived online were academics doing – at that time – totally unconventional and outlaw research. The Krokers – for example http://www.krokers.net/ and danah boyd and Rushkoff

    It’s almost kind of a back of the class/front of the class thing. Those on the inside of power – who do not critique it – reinforce power systems. Those on the outside (traditionally radicals) seek to interrogate and critique power. It’s also the difference between those who HACK and those who CONFORM.

    Their very radical nature – socially, politically, culturally, intellectually radical – was the reason they were here so early – because they’re not seekers of approval or acceptance. Their work was informed by a genuine sense of exploration – as all who explore new things before anybody else has “endorsed” or “authorized” such exploration. This is the difference. Just as early study of science fiction as a legitimate (and deeply political genre) was realised in the cyber punk movement.

    The early adopters (and by early adopters I mean that in the definitive sense of the term – if you were around back then know who I am talking about when I say early adopters) approached any new technology with critical mindedness and questions – largely concerning the interests of the end user and the changes that this new tech might bring about – socially, politically and otherwise.

    This new group doesn’t ask those sorts of questions. The only questions they seem to be asking are: “Has anybody tried [new app here]” “how do I get an invite to [new app here]” and “how do I set up [new app here]” Not unlike their students, this group of teachers seems more interested in “friend collecting” and popularity than serious or significant debate.

    There’s nothing wrong with sharing resources – as long as we’re taking the time to examine the nature of those resources. Where they came from, who made them, what they reinforce or challenge. For example, are these systems designed with the identities of diverse users in mind or do they cater to the datamining bottom line of third party corporate marketers?

    Here are some topics you won’t see among the primary/secondary edublogs (with very few exceptions):

    - privacy v. surveillance
    [the foremost issue in the use of social media]

    - net neutrality
    [the key issue right now online]

    - user controls v. top down design
    [some basic examination of the user interface design and how it produces specific outcomes]

    - corporate media and tech monopolies
    [i.e., uncritical adoption of media sources v. examination of bias and corporate ownership]

    - the digital divide, social and ideological diversity
    [I 'ain't talking "no child left behind" or laptops here... I'm talking about social diversity and equity]

    - the identification and interrogation of ideological bias in the design of social tech
    [huh? http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2008/jan/14/facebook ]

  86. [...] I also left this comment, albeit it was the 83rd one, at The Strength of Weak Ties: [...]

  87. Oops! My bad! I introduced myself to you at CUE, with that “I’m the lady who corrects grammar on Twitter, and I would have made you PRN’s had I had access to an oven.” -or some other such goofy statement. I honestly don’t remember exactly as I was leaving the bar and had had 3 glasses of wine. I was relaxed and happy, and feeling like I actually belonged there for the first time. I was going to give my first ever professional presentation, I had volunteered and was managing the Second Life playground, and I was excited because I actually knew some of the “important” people there. I remember meeting you at NECC last year too; I thought, OMG! David Jakes! What’s funny is that without my “social network” I wouldn’t even have known who you were. And do you know that I would not have been in that position at all without Twitter. I made a comment about being too late to submit a presentation to CUE because the due date was 24 hours away, and was @answered by Sylvia Martinez, who told me I could and I should, and helped me with the process. Sylvia and I had met only once last year at NECC too -through Kevin Jarrett, and Second Life. A group of five or six of us had dinner together, that was the extent of it. She had no reason to go out of her way to help me or to even answer me, but she did.

    I’d like to suggest the possibility that your comments come from a lofty place, -good on you- but perhaps you would consider this: There are a multitude of people out there just like me who are relative “newbies” to ed-tech, who labor alone to understand and connect with those of you who have so much experience and knowledge to impart. Education has always been isolating for teachers, and in some respects, technology has made it more so -at least for me in my district. I mostly feel like there’s no one who has a clue what I’m talking about, and frustrated to tears -literally, as I struggle with the digital divide created by ignorance and age.

    A year ago, I didn’t think I belonged in any of these conversations; I’m happy to say that I no longer believe that to be the case. But I still labor alone (and uphill at that), simply because my district does not have a tech coordinator or the ability to hire one in the foreseeable future, nor are there any more than two or three people who are at the same “level” of the game as I. These 140 character connections, as well as those I’ve made through Second Life, and some other sites I’ve learned about on Twitter, have changed my personal paradigm and helped me grow significantly in a very short period of time. I believe I have actually learned more form these connections than I did in my two years in a masters degree program.

    You certainly are allowed to have your opinion, but there are many people who look to you for learning and guidance with their use of technology in education. And reflecting about how I felt reading your post and the responses, it’s rather sad. I actually thought (for a moment) that maybe I shouldn’t go to Edublogger Con this year, because my purpose there would be to learn from those who are more experienced than I. I would not be shy about sharing my thoughts, but I would not be able “to step up-let’s hear what you have to say face to face. Are you ready for that? Are you ready to earn it-really earn it?”

    What is it that you think needs to be “earned?” Is it approval from you or any of the other people there who (seemingly) matter more than I do? If that’s the case, if it’s just to be the “pros” then there’s no point to it at all, it can be an old-boys’ aren’t-we-great get together, but I don’t think that’s what Steve Hargadon had in mind. The most memorable thing for me about last years’ NECC was standing in an overcrowded room full of concerned and dedicated educators and being a part of a conversation lead by David Warlick. I felt empowered, enlightened, and lucky to be there. It’s sad that so few people will have that kind of opportunity -ever.

    As for Twitter, it’s kind of like an extension of the conversation at NECC; except there are many more contributers and I get to see Howard Rheingold’s artwork, and grieve when someone loses a beloved pet, or commiserate when someone is frustrated or having a tough day. I feel absolutely honored that any of these articulate, intelligent people would follow me or try to help and support me, or respond to me as they do. So, I guess it’s a matter of perspective, position, and opinion, and that’s ok too.

  88. DSJ says:

    @Lisa/Clare. For the 4578 time, the post was not about the connections and the positive interactions one can find on Twitter. Yes, that’s absolutely true. In fact, for everyone AGAIN, the post is about what I considered (just me, no one else, I get my opinion too!) to be the over the top self promotion. I’m glad you can connect, I truly am-that’s a good thing.

    Yes, I would like to see some other voices step-up and lead, and if that is at EdubloggerCon, then so be it. Personally, I think that would be refreshing. Events like EBC are designed to not only to change how a conference takes place (e.g. the shift from presentation to conversation) but to encourage new fresh voices. If a single blog post causes you pause about attending, well, then I just don’t have much to say about that.

    What I find interesting is that when you look at the Fringe Conference to be held at the Blogger Cafe, where people can give 7 minute talks, etc., only several presentations have been scheduled. What a great opportunity! Maybe its just early, maybe people are waiting.

    But hold on.

    Over 35 people have signed up for the Twitter Blogger Wikier Dinner on Monday night.

    Now everyone can be mad at me for making that statement.

  89. Lisa/Clare says:

    Who’s mad? Sounds like you are.

    It seems to me that you are sitting in a comfortable place from which to say that your post should not give me pause -of course it does, you’re one of the people I look to for continued reflection and growth.

    I will speak up, I always do, whatever the consequences. I get hurt and dissed, and all sorts of stuff, but I LEARN, and that’s what it’s all about. Lots of teachers call themselves life-long learners, but they’re not! Going to a few in-services a year is not being an active learner. I stick my neck out, spend my own money, and sometimes alienate friends and family in search of learning, so that I can be better at what I do. I would guess you do (or did?) the same, otherwise I would not admire you, or Warlick, or Richardson, or Thornburg, or any of the other “gurus” from whom I learn so much. Don’t be defensive, you’ve done something terribly right to cause so many to think so much and be passionate about it. (-:

  90. Lisa/Clare says:

    Oops! I forgot something very important: I meant in the first reply to say thank you. You may not follow me, but whenever I have written an @Djakes, you have responded with a very polite DM, which I very much appreciate.

    It really shouldn’t be about the people who follow you, but about those you choose to follow -I choose to follow you -and again, Thank You!

  91. Tim Childers says:

    David, Thanks for sharing your frustration with Twitter. I agree that it is changing. When Twitter first started, and I saw feeds on blogs, I kept thinking, “What is the big deal?” So what if so and so is at Starbucks or getting ready to pick up their kids at ballet?” Over time, however, many people found a way to change the focus of the discussion. It certainly changed for me, but for the better. Twitter has become one of the main outlets for my PLN. Why? I think it is pretty simple. I work at a school with nearly 100 faculty and others. No one, and I mean no one, is taking the time to learn about tech-related learning like I am. I feel very much alone every day in this quest to integrate technology into the classroom. I have found a group of people on Twitter who share my passion. I don’t read it every minute of the day, but I do find a lot of great ideas, websites, tools, and applications flittering about in the conversations.

    Perhaps Twitter takes on a different tone for you because you are in the middle of all this tech stuff everyday. You travel to many conferences, have a website visited by thousands, and have a lot of people waiting for you to open your mouth and say something profound. You are at the other end of the spectrum from teachers like myself. So, I suppose it is not unusual that your reaction to Twitter might be the opposite of my own. Thanks again!

    PS: If I ever do get the honor of meeting you in person, I promise to try not to say, “I follow you on Twitter!” :)

  92. Melanie says:

    This conversation isn’t about Twitter.

    It isn’t about whether somebody follows or unfollows you.

    It’s about the state of the net right now and the kinds of people using these tools.

    And this post reminds me of the posts of the past – those posts in which people actually said something.

    Back before the mainstream showed up and collectively asked “how do I make money with this?” … “how can this make me famous/popular/etc” …
    For those of you unfamiliar with the time I speak of, here’s an echo …

    The expression on that page defines the passion and conviction I once knew and loved about the web (and what we meant by blog content – a voice UNLIKE the mainstream media. An ALTERNATIVE to the Big Media).

    It’s the kind of critical mindedness that is largely absent in the blogs of those people who would rather reproduce Big Media with meaningless, popularity seeking than actually saying anything worth a damn.

    Yeah, I like the old web way better than this new one. And I’m not the only one who hasn’t succumbed to the corporateweb lobotomy.

    And to this (below):

    “My followers are slowly growing and I periodically check to see who they are, not to see if the “popular” kids are watching me, but to see if there is someone out there operating on my wavelength that could prove to be an alley in the war against ignorance.”

    “the war against ignorance” that’s the spirit I’m talking about. It’s very different than asking aloud “how do I increase traffic?”

  93. Interesting cloud of words used in this conversation: http://tinyurl.com/4t4m9c .

    twitter > people > learning > think > personal > blog > conversation

    I think this would be a very healthy topic to discuss in person at NECC. As one willing to step up, I have even volunteered to facilitate the session:

    Wednesday, July 2
    8:30am – Concurrent Session 10
    Blogging and Twitter Etiquette: Are there rules that govern the way we should interact in this wild west of the web?

    Anyone willing to join me?

  94. Woops. Here’s the link to the Fringe Festival. Talk about conference 2.0!


  95. Vicki Davis says:

    I think, David, that you’re missing the point. Don’t get so caught up in the tool of the hour that you miss out that these tools are connecting us in ways that they never would have before. As a busy teacher and blogger – twitter lets me meet more people than I ever would have just via reading blogging and RSS — it has made my life better AND my classroom a better place. We all have to struggle w/ how tools best work for us and it sounds like twitter is a dud for you. If so, delete your account and get off — we have no time for distractions from our purpose.

    Twitter, however, makes me better at accomplishing my purpose. I think that when we make decisions FOR others we’re missing the point that some tools may fit for the lives of some better than others. Twitter fits me just fine.

  96. [...] tool although I did enjoy watching twittervision.  Here’s another opinion about twitter from David Jakes. Create a free edublog to get your own comment avatar (and [...]

  97. DSJ says:

    @Vicki Davis. For the 4579 time, I know you can use Twitter to connect. I’ve never said you couldn’t. I’m not missing any point, especially all the tool lust that goes on in Twitter.

    As for giving me advice about deleting my account, gee, thanks. “We have no time for distractions from our purpose..” I’m stunned. Seriously. You sound as if the group on Twitter is united towards the great cause of….what exactly? Improving student learning? Or getting every one to sign up for special wiki projects?

    And what decisions for others am I making? I’m not the one trying to standardize tagging. Go back and read the post (and I’m not sure you did). Its about over the top self-promotion, coolcat.

  98. “DSJ says:
    May 4th, 2008 at 3:58 pm

    “I thought the original point of the article was to go beyond observation of behavior, into evaluation (or judgment, if you will) of behavior and then some recommendations, explicit and implied, on how to change the behavior, based on the evaluation.”

    No, that was never the point. Simple observations about my experience.”

    Thank you for explaining the point. It also explains why what you say and what many of the other commenters say does not feel like people connecting and talking TO each other (rather than at each other). In my case, I guess some parts of my research background (e.g. ethnographic methods), or maybe some of my personal philosophies, made, and still make it hard to define what you do as “simple observations.” I don’t think it’s just semantics, either. Here, with quotes from your post, is what I mean:

    “Twitter is a place to share a resource, a link to a new blog post, or an insight, and even a place to have a little fun” – this is what I would call “an observation.” You look at Twitter and you report some parts of what you observe going on, metaphorically describing it so readers could understand better (metaphorically, because Twitter’s not a place). However, this is just a part of your quote.

    “At its best, Twitter is a place to share a resource, a link to a new blog post, or an insight, and even a place to have a little fun. At its very worst, Twitter is a self-indulgent exercise in self-promotion and pettiness.” – In my definitions of what is what, these are evaluations: your opinions ABOUT your observations. You say that self-promotion is bad, and sharing resources and having little (not too much, implied?) fun is good. I am trying to read it as you disclosing your observer biases now, after you explained that the goal of the post was observation only. I, frankly, see it as a stretch on my definitions, though. I don’t think other commenters read these quotes, and other such quotes, as “simply observations.” In your last comment you say, “it’s about over the top self-promotion” – again, it reads like an evaluation/judgment: you observed how much self-promotion is going on, you know how much self-promotion would be enough, and Twitter has more than what you consider enough.

    The decisions you suggest others make, well, they are implied in evaluations, for most readers. Do more of what is good, do less of what is bad. Do more link sharing, because it’s the best, do less of self-promotion, because it’s the worst, or at least there is too much of it. Don’t send people e-mails asking why they dropped you from their reading list – it’s ridiculous. Read research and put it into Twitter, because it will be about self-growth, and it’s the true goal. Again, it’s hard for me not to assume you actually call people to change their behavior according to your evaluation of your observations. Don’t you want people to do more of what you evaluate as “the best” and less of what you evaluate as “the worst”? Your post reads as a call to action, almost a manifesto :-) I am trying, and I am good at stretching my definitions, to read it as just observation, but it’s not working. In the spirit of suggesting decisions to others, I humbly suggest that you make peace with the way most commenters read what you wrote: as an evaluation and a call to action. In my opinion, it reads the best as such, and the worst as an observation. I tried both ways.

  99. David Jakes says:

    Maria: thanks for your comments, they add to the discussion. A manifesto? I wouldn’t think so, but I guess everyone sees something different in this post-stay tuned!

  100. Mr. Summary - EScherr says:

    David: Concerned Twitter is being used as self promotion and isn’t furthering student learning outcomes.

    Twitter Patrol: Concerned that David is missing all of the positive connections on Twitter.

    David: Not missing positive connections, just stating his opinion on the over use of self promotion and people trying to become famous.

    Twitter Patrol: Still concerned that David is missing all of the positive connections being made on Twitter.

    David: Nope, still not missing the positive connections that go on in Twitter. Still just concerned that it is being used for self promotion and trying to become famous. Still stating his, David Jales’ opinion.

    Twitter Patrol: Want David to know of all of the positive connections being made on Twitter.

    This is like an episode of Seinfeld, only less funny. Carry on.

  101. DSJ says:

    Evan Scherr, touch’ em all.

  102. Chris L says:

    The Twitter activity you describe (except the sharing of interesting links which I’ve yet to see elevated to competition or anything more than sharing resources as one comes across them… which is one of the most valuable aspects of Twitter for me) doesn’t resemble that in my Twitter neighborhood at all. Perhaps you need to follow some different people (you can drop the annoying ones, you know) and, as I do, pay no attention to the list of who is following you at all.

    I find the argument of scarcity and Twitter’s role in facilitating laziness (Twitter is taking the place of X, whether X be “real” blogging or f2f conversation or “proper” evaluation and sharing of resources or “substantive” conversation) to be less than compelling. But that may just be another artifact of operating in a different group than you. Twitter makes it easy to move… why not just do so?

  103. Vicki Davis says:

    @DSJ – I reread your post and it doesn’t seem to focus on over the top self promotion but distraction and wanders through a few places.

    I’ve met you in person and found you to be quite charming and a great speaker. However, I’m quite taken aback at your comment towards me. I am who I am, wiki projects and all. I’m a practical classroom teacher with my heart firmly in the classroom and helping my own children, two of whom have LD. I’ll leave the fame-seeking to someone else. Meanwhile, while I try not to take things personally, I believe your comment to be unkind.

    As for standardizing tagging – I believe that there are times and places tagging can make things easier (i.e. hitchikr) but the person who wishes for folksonomy to disappear would be totally wrong. It depends on what you’re trying to do — if you’re trying to aggregate the posts that your students wrote about a keynote speaker onto a wiki page for the speaker, then a standard tag makes sense – it is the ONLY way to make the rss out of delicious work.

    As for decisions — this is what I’m saying — I had someone dm me the other day that perhaps twitter was a bad thing b/c David Jakes said it was and maybe she should delete her account. (!?) As a widely read edublogger you have a great responsibility. That is why I went and asked for the source of her thoughts about twitter and ended up here.

    It sounds as if I read your post not as you intended but I think if others are considering deleting their accounts b/c of it, they too are not reading it as you intended? This was a person NOT participating in shameless self promotion but rather, a beginner at al of this.

    I do agree, however, that when people are twittering instead of talking face to face that they are missing the point. That is truly a pet peeve of mine.

    Twitter has truly become an instrumental part of the orchestration of tools and experts into my classroom and I couldn’t imagine life without it… of course next year it may be something else. It is ultimately about the classroom and connecting in ways that positively impact the students.

    Just unfollow people who are shameless self promoters. (if that includes me, so be it)

    I guess my point on deleting your account was that if it isn’t adding to your life, it is taking away. If it is causing you consternation then forget it… life is too short and it is not worth it. NOt that there is some grandiose something that you’ll miss out on if you’re not in twitter, but rather, that we need to all decide what things are important for us to spend our own time on and honestly, that answer will be different for each of us. We all have different objectives that we must accomplish and should personalize our own learning spaces.

  104. After reading and re-reading all of these comments, I am stunned by one simple and very telling reality:

    So few of the comments actually zeroed in on what David said about the missed opportunity to meet specific kids at a truly unique school.

    While the Twitter-iffic lights seem (like all the 2.0 white noise) to gain all the attention (read above), his underlying point was about the chance to focus on the students.

    Instead, all the chatter (OK, perhaps 90%) continues to be about adults/educators trying to draw some line in the sand about why they use one tool over another or about why they need F2F time with other adults or about validating some long-ago (still vibrant) middle school popularity chart still in play.

    All fine. And yet, the real opportunity — both at SLA this year and with David’s follow-up post — lay in the real kids at a real school.

    Can’t help to think that if I were on the outside looking in that something would feel odd about all this. Twitter is the noise, right, nothing more than a shiny piece of a metal captivating a cage full of ferrets on some level (and I admit I’m a ferret who likes shiny things on occasion). On the other hand, the kids were the signal at SLA this year, a signal sadly missed for the most part by many/all of us in one manner or another.

    I take David’s challenge very seriously.

    I stand corrected if I have ever — at SLA or elsewhere — allowed my personal/professional need for validating my network/ego get in the way of the kids right in front of my eyes. I’m throwing no rocks at glass houses that I’m not already sitting inside of. I’m the first reflective target, not anyone else. Only ‘receive’ this if if fits on your own terms.

    Otherwise, I’m just raising my hand to amen David’s honesty here. And hoping the defense of Twitter (et al) will become less and less the white noise purpose of our individual and shared efforts in this emerging field re-imagined education.

  105. [...] sitting on the “top” with thousands of followers and an entrenched friend list, you just couldn’t follow everybody. (Regardless if you agree with the tact of which one responds, it is nearly inhuman to be able to [...]

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