Okay, so this afternoon I have been working to figure out what I have to say and after about three hours, I think this blog may turn into two or three like several others have. It’s not that I deliberately wait until I have several to write, but that in thinking about writing one, I find I have several blogs to write.
Chad Ratliff (@chadratliff) has had an immense impact on my thinking, and he doesn’t even realize it, I don’t think. I began following him on Twitter sometime this year, and started following some of his tweeple as well from tracing back his conversations. He is an entrepreneur, an educator, a thinker and a friend, not necessarily in that order. ( I suspect all of those take back seat to his roles of Dad and Husband MUCH of the time!) Anyway, Chad and I started talking on Twitter, he began following folks from Albemarle Schools and to make a long story short, he attended a conference with us (where I had the honor and pleasure of introducing him around) and he wound up working in our school system. (I’m not taking any credit for that–he is an amazing person we were lucky to have join us!)
Before that, he was taking classes, running a business (or maybe 2 or 3 of them), keeping his hand in education and tweeting to people in all of those endeavors. How we connected I don’t remember, but what I do know is that I started following some business people from all over, which I never would have said I would do. Through Chad, I found some educators in Iowa (like @RussGoerend, whom I have an ongoing competition with about whether VA or Iowa has more notable tweeters) and from Russ I got to some other amazing thinkers, and it goes on and on. . .
But, really, what this blog post is about is the importance of social networking: We participate and connect with people who think like we do. We interact, and sometimes argue with or question people who think differently. We sometimes watch and “lurk” on conversations others have, watching the stories unfold in front of us. We come back to our online connections, to the people we have met and come to know online because of the power of stories–the connections we make through sharing with each other the thoughts, questions, strengths and weaknesses we have–and sharing the struggles and the solutions we find.
See I Finally Get It–Why Social Networking Is So Important for another insight into social networking as story.
So, back to why I started by writing about Chad:
I haven’t seen him since he joined us. I’ve tweeted very little since then, as a matter of fact, because it’s been the beginning of school and I’ve just been darn busy. When I have been on Twitter, I’ve been furiously reading, trying to catch some of the nuggets my PLN shares. Chad’s tweeted me a few links and DM’d to make sure I was okay, but mostly since he got here, I haven’t been in contact much.
That doesn’t matter.
I follow his conversations still and have followed some amazing thinkers because of him–and I constantly learn through their tweets as well. Twitter–and the connections people make on it– continues to amaze me. I am learning from so many people all over the world because thoughtful practitioners are willing to share and give so much.
I am so appreciative of all the people who share with me online–I thank you all for sharing the stories in your life.
And, thanks, Chad, for helping me follow some people who have certainly stretched my thinking through the stories of their lives.