We all want to be popular

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.

Popularity

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

lizbdavissays
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?

10 Comments

  1. Reply

    “We can’t, and shouldn’t, expect educators to always be focused on students 24/7. No one in any profession does that.”

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    If teachers have to be “all about the children” 24/7 it’s no wonder there’s burn-out, no?

  2. Reply

    Kelly-

    Thank you for posting this before you went off to work.

    Social networking is a way to replenish one’s ‘well’- well of energy, grace, experience, strategies, etc. It’s what a Teacher’s Room should be. But no physical Teacher’s Room could match the elastic, international, cosmopolitan, universal, joyful, soulful 24/7 experience of a healthy, vibrant online community.

    I think ‘Here Comes Everybody’ has an amzing section on incoming and outgoing attention. (I cn’t point it to you right now). It is a curious dynamic.

    I want to thank you for making Plurkadia’s existence brighter with your presence and your posts.

    -Skip

  3. Reply

    Kelly,
    As a teacher and a mother I often feel guilty when I do things only for myself, for my own learning or for my own pleasure. I feel pressure to let go of my own needs for the good of the children. I don’t debate that ultimately everything comes back to the students. However, I do think that by nurturing our own minds and bodies and souls we become better educators and better parents.

    My social/professional network is a place for me to think, to learn, to play, to joke, to laugh, to complain and to get help. All of these things ultimately benefit my students – but not necessarily directly. I think it is and should be OK for all of us to focus inward occasionally, even at the expense of those around us.

    I do want people to read my blog and respect my work. I do want people to know what I do and respond to my ideas. That constitutes fame in our little world of edublogging. When I was young I wanted to be a professional actor. I have always enjoyed the stage. It is wonderful for me to have found a small way to to reconnect with that dream.

  4. Reply

    Kelly, this is an interesting post. Thanks for giving me something to think about as I head to West Virginia for a couple of days…

    1. I’d probably say it a bit differently: we’re all looking for VALIDATION. Of our ideas, our beliefs, who we are as people… Oh, and we all would like to have the CONVERSATION that many of the most popular bloggers are fortunate enough to have on their blogs.

    2. Can you give some examples of posts from edubloggers who “are looking for popularity and will say whatever to get it?”

  5. Reply

    Kelly-
    I have seen the migration happening from twitter to plurk. I was reluctant to even investigate it.I fight my geekiness off by trying NOT to jump on every bandwagon that rolls by. I realize what my network needs are- and being in on the hottest,latest, greatest isn’t even on the short list. I do know that when I find good people I really connect with and admire-I keep them-no matter what networking tool they are using. So since we have survived the wave of twitter, pownce and now plurk-you are still in my network.

  6. Reply

    Linda – I know. You and I have discussed the whole Pownce/Twitter thing and then Plurk shows up. I’m not a twitter fan – liked Pownce much better. I do keep connected to anyone who has shown me that there is a reason to stay connected – that’s why I check into Twitter and Pownce daily. I just don’t do a whole lot of posting. My network is also larger than these social tools – it includes blogs/nin gs/wikis and other tools. It’s worth staying connected with those who bring validity and authenticity to the discussions. I’m with you Linda!

    Scott – I don’t know if I want the number of visitors that the main bloggers get – yeesh – I have trouble with just the minor amount I get! Yes, I want to be validated but part of me also likes to be popular – in a recognition way!
    Example – there was an edublogger who openly stated that you did your post on top blogs because yours was slipping and you wanted to raise your rating on technocrati. It was not the first time this blogger did such a thing and won’t be the last. I don’t mind being challenged and such but there have been statements made that are done so with a sense of finality and authority. I may question if we need such a thing – which I don’t – but I stating that your reason for creating the list was to raise your blogs ratings is what I consider saying something to create popularity.

    Liz – ” do think that by nurturing our own minds and bodies and souls we become better educators and better parents.” is right on! We need to be complete people – mind, body, soul and take care of all parts of our lives. From experience, when we don’t, we are not effective as we could be.
    I agree with you about the reason for blogging and being part of a PLN that continues to grow and change. I don’t know if I want to be famous but I do want to be part of the discussions!

    Kate – It has been a lesson that I don’t want anyone else to go through. We need to take time away for our families, our friends, ourselves, our hobbies our ….. – we are people and need to recognize that being a better whole person will make us a better educator. I give myself permission to take time off, even during the most busy times, if I realize I need it.

  7. Eric

    Reply

    Considering that there are now so many social networks catering to such a wide range of niches, my biggest problem is finding ones relevant to me and related to my specific interests or product niches. Google seems to be inefficient and returns alot of irrelevant results. A good resource that I use to find them is this directory of social networking sites

  8. Reply

    Well, it’s true that whenever I do a list of the most popular edublogs my inbound links (and thus my Technorati ratings) go up. Is it my motivation for doing so? No. Do some people like to attribute motives to others without knowing what’s really going on? Absolutely. But I do think that particular statement to which you refer was tongue-in-cheek…

    So that’s an example of someone accusing me of “wanting popularity and saying whatever to get it.” I wonder if there are other examples on my or others’ blogs that also would fit your description…

  9. Reply

    Very thought-provoking…

    I agree with Skip about Shirky’s book and the incoming/outgoing attention. Might have been Ch. 9?

    I use SNs for various reasons, many of them to connect to other educators. A group of us discussed ‘popularity’ to a degree at NECC Unplugged this summer… I have to say it’s a very interesting concept, depending upon how people view popularity. I want to be popular enough that people read my blog (as I do to many others) and comment, so that I have feedback which can help me grow as an educator. I do NOT want to be so popular that it boosts my ego instead of my brain.

    Thanks for the administrator perspective… I wish you were in my district! But now that I have read your blog, I will point some of our admin here and then ask them how I can help them to grow in their own professional development.

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