I used twitcleaner.com last week. Twitcleaner is a Twitter app intended ot help you manage the people you follow, so you can weed out inactive ones. I found some interesting patterns–the ones in my list either had been inactive since may or last November. The puzzle-solver in me wants to know why, so I dug a bit deeper to try to figure it out. My hypothesis is that the November people were either:
*ones who had just joined and perhaps didn’t tweet past the class where they were encouraged to sign up–or
*they were hacked and they gave up after that happened.
The “May Twitter quitters” I figured just might have been taking a break near the end of school, or had taken off for the summer. I found one that was a surprise, though, even though I hadn’t noticed the Twitter absence because I haven’t had time to be on Twitter much the past few months. Knowing a co-worker, I wrote that person and asked if the Twitterer was okay. Turns out s/he’s not and I found out something I wish I hadn’t. It’s made me very sad.
The week or so before, Scott McLeod had written a post called, Can you ever really know that edublogger beside you? Turns out Steven Anderson was also writing about the same topic: Social Media and Relationships The comments both places are interesting, and could easily be seen as depicting personalities. How people express themselves and what they say shows their personality, and lets us get to know them better, right? I know I certainly feel like I express myself honestly and put myself “out there” in many ways on my blog and in interactions on Twitter and other social networking sites. However, people can say anything on the web, and we can only know whether it is the truth through extended and repeated interactions with that person, right?
I don’t know that anymore. I know I have unfollowed people I’d like to learn from because of their language, because I DO read Twitter at school, and I don’t want curse words on my screen. I am sad this person was so obnoxious in their actions I had to not only unfollow, but block them. I had interacted regularly with this person. I had met this person at NECC 09. I had even had a drink with this person. But I didn’t really know this person, and that’s the point Scott makes in his blog. That’s the point several commenters on his blog make as they ask if we ever really know anyone. How many times have husbands surprised wives (or vice versa) with some habit or behavior the other knew nothing about or we’ve found out something about a neighbor or friend that completely shocked us? I’m from a small town where everyone knows everyone else. I’ve had very little personal experience with scandal or distrustful situations or incredibly obnoxious behavior–whether it involves drinking or not. I am incredibly naive…though less naive than last week.
I agree with many of the comments on Scott’s blog where people say they are choosing to be trusting. I am, and I will continue to do that with educators whom I meet online. I do think we should heed the warning here, on Wes Fryer’s Blog via Beth Still, though.
However, I have been really “out there” with my elementary kids. I haven’t hesitated to ask educators in my PLN to interact with my students on their wikis–and I have let educators join their wikis to interact with them. I am REALLY rethinking that practice… and how to set up situations to allow my teacher Twitter buddies to give my kids feedback–or respond to their polls–in ways that don’t quite open up my kids so widely to other possibilities like the potential for private interactions with adults, or older students. I’m thinking a Twitter account might serve that purpose. I’m thinking a conversation with Adam Frey (co-founder of wikispaces) is possibly in order to ask if moderated comments could somehow be allowed. I understand wikis are about collaboration, but when asking for responses or help from strangers, there has to be a way to do that safely for my students.
So, as I think about next year and setting up my kids for understanding global connections, share with me how you let them pursue their passions and create their own stuff on the web, AND interact with the world? I’m not looking for structured projects between classes–I do that, and encourage the kid to kid and teacher to teacher interaction. I’m looking for ways to let my kids receive feedback from anyone on their personal creations, but not be able to then turn to a private space for interacting. Suggestions?