Last night I was able to spend some time on the net getting caught up with some of the sites that have popped up (www.go2web20.net – awesome site for new and upcoming web2.0 stuff) and just plurking away. Plurking? Yes, I’ve moved away from twitter – the much hyped but very flaky social network that was the darling of the edubloggosphere for the past little while.
The Social Network Thing
Now, I began on twitter 6 or 7 months ago when it was in its infancy. Truth be told, it wasn’t a big hit with me since I didn’t have the time to be on it constantly like many of the others were and I just didn’t cultivate the network relationships that many others did. I’d drop in and chat or see what was going on but I couldn’t sustain a conversation or play some of the games that went on. Then Pownce came along and I really liked it. It did so much more than twitter did and the conversations could be longer than 140 characters which was a big drawback that I didn’t like about twitter. Some people gave pownce a try but stuck with twitter, the first SN that they were on and this seems to be a trend that is continuing with Plurk. Some people are gravitating to plurk, others are trying to do both (something that will be very difficult when school is on) and some are staying with twitter. That’s good! I’ve basically moved and my PLN is changing a bit but that’s good. Eventually I hope to find a social network where there are actually some more principals who will really admit they are principals:)
I made up my mind that I’m going to go over to Plurk for several reasons. The first being that it is up and working when I’m there and I don’t get this
which seems to be the norm lately. I know, it’s because twitter is so popular and if Plurk was as popular it would have the same problems. But it doesn’t, it works and, for me, the ability to sustain and add to a conversation, regardless of which way the timeline moves, is a BIG plus over twitter which is very chaotic and nonlinear. I can look up old conversations and then use them – which you’ll see later in this blog.
Since I began on Plurk, there has been much ado about karma, the little incentive Plurk has for using plurk. I find it of no big deal but some people look at the karma and discuss its movement up and down. Kind of like the discussion that took place on twitter about the twitter ranking of twitterers that went on a few months back. Is this about popularity? I’m not sure and really don’t care that much. To say I don’t care at all would be a lie because I do want people to make comments and join in discussions that I begin but do I care about my karma going up and down? No. Maybe it’s something that I’ve developed as a principal but being popular isn’t the reason I became a principal. It was to do good things for students and, sometimes, that makes you unpopular with some students and parents. I know that when I first began as a principal, I wanted to be liked by everyone. I realize now that when you are in a position of decision making, someone will not be happy with a decision you make.
This idea of popularity came up last night in a discussion on plurk and twitter and the role of popularity in the edubloggosphere. The discussion was very good and I always like it when there is a chance for people to express how they feel about such things. I think all of us want some level of popularity in that we want to be able to connect with others and contribute to the discussions that are taking place. There are those in the edubloggosphere who really worry about being popular and will say things and make comments that are very “distasteful” for an educator just to get that popularity and generate visits to their blog.
For anyone who has been blogging for some time, Scott McLeod over at Dangerously Irrelevant posts a list of the top 50 edublogs every so often as ranked by technocrati. Now, I find that it is a useful tool for me to find some new blogs to visit and reacquaint myself with blogs I haven’t visited in a while. However, after the last post, there was a discussion that took place that really underlined the fact that some people are looking for popularity and will say whatever to get it.
So why should social networks be any different? Some people will make various comments about whatever comes into their heads and post it. I’ve seen it on both twitter and plurk. To be truthful, I’ve rarely seen these types of posts on pownce. It seems to have less “I just woke up from a nap and am having coffee” types of posts. As for popularity, all social networks are about popularity to some degree – from MySpace, Facebook to Plurk, Jaiku and twitter. In fact, if popularity weren’t a part of it, why would people continue to search for that tool that lets them post and read on ALL their social networks? Because we feel we have something to contribute – it’s not a bad thing at all.
Liz Davis – someone I’ve grown to appreciate for her insightful comments and her uncanny sense of humour expressed that
lizbdavis I find the whole issue of “fame” within the edubloggosphere very interesting. Teaching is supposed to be a selfless profession.
I think teachers tend to feel bad when they think too much about themselves. It has to be about the kids or it is selfish.
As I commented to Liz, the difference is that the edubloggosphere isn’t necessarily always about students – actually it sometime has nothing to do with students but about people’s ideas, ideology and pedagogy and their ego, stature and status. The edubloggosphere isn’t school and so people don’t always act the way they do when in the education setting. School is, or should be, about what is best for students (that is always debatable) and what can be done to enhance their learning in a variety of ways. Schools are, or should be, focused on students. The edubloggosphere is focused on a variety of things, one of them being the adults in education.
We Can’t Mandate
We can’t, and shouldn’t, expect educators to always be focused on students 24/7. No one in any profession does that. And we should expect people to be all over the map when using any type of social network. I sometimes discuss education issues, sometimes parenting, sometimes silly and, really, things that maybe might be better left unsaid. But, these people have become more than just professional learning network members, they have become people that are friends and that is why I discuss so many different things. Some have even come to appreciate my sense of humor, which, for the record, I surgically have removed each fall and then replaced again each July.
In the End
We all want some sort of popularity, notoriety, recognition or kudos. It may just be the type that allows us to interact with more people and gain their perspective or it might actually be all out popularity that will give us that ego-shine we want. Social networks are a place for that to take place as much as the rest of the internet does the same thing. In the end, does it really matter?
As I mentioned last night, if you are part of a group that is focused on education, then maybe that isn’t the place to be looking to be popular and grow your karma. But, if you are like me and discuss various topics, sometime simultaneously, you might be serious and goofy all at the same time! When the dust does finally clear, I want to be popular to some extent because I feel I have something to offer to the edubloggosphere even if it is just my own reflections on my growth, life and living in the fast-paced, change-happening world. If it helps someone else and they can use it in some way, that’s even better. If they can’t use it and just get a chuckle from the absurdity of some of the things I say, that’s okay too. After all, this is all about the SOCIAL networks, something that anyone with a teenager should not have to reminded but, as an adult educator, might need to be. It is partly about being social of which a small part is popularity. And, really, what’s so wrong with that?