Careful Sharing

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I often quietly observe and ponder what and how others post on social media.  I also reflect on what I post and share.  I often have conversations with others about this.  I am sure most people do all of the above as well.  We can judge or justify just about anything in regards to sharing on social media it can seem at times.

I have used the expression, “sharing is caring” in the past, but I also think that being careful what you share is also caring.  Yet I know that there will be differences in opinion about what “careful sharing” looks like.  The conversation often leads to a debate about sharing as a “brand” and what is appropriate for different age groups, especially youth.  Andrew Campbell covered that topic well in a recent post.  I like to share/post things that I find interesting and inspiring, but I also try to be less quick to share and take that space

One way I have tried to withhold judgement about what other people post/share is by thinking about how our communities, neighbourhoods, and social opportunities have changed.  Our families, friends and acquaintances are not in close proximity as much as in the past.  Sharing our lives, experiences, and reactions to news and events in bits and pieces often and over time with close ties may not be possible as it once was.  Our social needs remain, but the contexts have changed.  Our mobile devices make it so easy to share in the moment what we are excited about.  Upsides and downsides, I recognize.

I hope social media hasn’t replaced or reduced in-person interactions, but it has filled a gap.  But I often sense that it can get “overboard”.  When is sharing really bragging?  When is “bragging” really just a need to be validated because more socially acceptable interaction or validation is not there?  It is called a “status” update.  It’s tricky, I know.  There are times when I get bored with social media… reading about social media… but here I am writing about it again… :)

Two articles I found on Twitter recently (shared by @redfearn and @courosa, respectively) that connected and pushed some of my thoughts on this:

Sharenting

The Weird Way Facebook and Instagram Are Making Us Happier

Both are thought-provoking about the sharing of experiences on social media and what that could mean — now and in the future.

 

The always controversial “RT”

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If you use Twitter for education connecting, learning, and conversations, you have likely read some of the blog posts that are circulating regarding some concern about being “connected” in education.  There seems to be some disappointment with “Personal Learning Networks” (PLNs) and some examination about how social media is being used for education networking, sharing, promoting, etc.

I have been reading some of the posts and trying to understand what the main concern and conflicts are.  I haven’t shared or commented on the posts — these are networks that I am not really a part of and I see the posts via an “RT” usually.  I see educators using Twitter this way and that way, just as I see many people and organizations using it different ways.  It can be easy to wonder who is actually reading and learning via Twitter and blogs and not just posting their own links, status updates, and news.  People will use it as they wish, want different things from it, just as people will read, share, “RT”, and ignore different things.

I wonder if some of the disappointment has to do with the expectations that one has coming into Twitter and building a PLN.  Do some want to be a “rock star” for many, while some just want to be rock for a few, or connect and share within a smaller network or community?  Doug Peterson posted today and shared some aspects of this topic and conversation.  I appreciated his reflection, as well as Tom Whitby’s post regarding “RTing” that Doug linked and reflected on.

Being someone who tweets and blogs mostly about parent roles in education, I knew I would never be a top tweeter or receiver of RTs, and I didn’t expect or want to be.  I have read some concerns about the lack of comments on blogs, while some don’t even get many views of a post.  I rarely have a blog post that gets over 100 views, but after 115 posts and 4 years later, I still post.  I think I am waning though, but that is both about me and what I have learned about social media.

The post of mine that got the most views on a single day is not one that is necessarily my best or most thought provoking.  I know it got those views because somehow it got on the radar of an educator with many followers.  That one day.. that one tweet (and no, I didn’t RT it).  The person has never shared another post of mine that I am aware of… the numbers would have told me :).  I do understand the frustration with people RTing people (and the same people more), instead of it being about the ideas (even if only a perception).  Do the “influencers” who are well established in networks understand the perspectives and actions of others who are trying to find purpose and value in the use of social media?

People “RTing” their own compliments and the tweets of others who have shared their posts can bother me too.  But when I see that many people seldom get their tweets or posts shared/RT’d, I can understand why they might use a different strategy, even it if appears self-promotional.  These spaces and the hierarchies that still exist within them affect our choices and conduct.  I don’t think there is a science or perfect protocol for it all.  I don’t know… but just thought I would write about my perspective and observations.  I don’t claim to understand it all either.

Another year and a blog report

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I have been reviewing my “Annual Report” that WordPress provides each year to its users.  There is an option to post it publicly and I have enjoyed reading those of others who have done so.  I don’t think I will, but I thought I would share some of the details and stats that I reflected on from mine — a quick summary of the report instead, or perhaps some context (not that there are big fireworks to write home about :)).

My most viewed post that was written in 2014: Parent Engagement by Association.  A close second: Parent Involvement: Who gets the final say?

My top viewed post in 2014, and of all time, remains: Parent Involvement and Intrinsic Motivation: A Connection? (2012).  I think that is because of the many internet searches for the words (and general interest in the link between): parent involvement and motivation.  I know it is not my best post, but the numbers don’t provide that context and reality.

My other posts with the most views (top 5) in 2014 include posts from 2012 and 2013.  The first is not a post about parent engagement but remains “popular”:  Standardized Testing: Teacher reflections on EQAO.  The other one is about parent engagement and I am happy to report that it was written by a guest blogger and parent advocate: A Seat at the Table.  Well done, Nancy!

My “Best Day” is Friday.  But I believe that is because I often post on a Thursday.  I don’t know why.. I have always liked Thursday.  It is Thursday today as I write…

This year’s annual report also informed me that some of my most popular posts were written before 2014.  I was informed of the same in 2013.  I am glad that I kept writing even if my banner year was 2012 :)

Most visits to my blog came from Canada.  That’s cool.

The post that was written in 2014 that got the most comments was Graduation Caps and Gaps.  That is cool too, but many of those comments/additions were added by me. :)

My “5 most active commenters” were also provided:  Thank you Doug, Denise, Nancy, Philip, and Tracy!  The report suggests that I should send them a thank you.  I appreciate all who comment here as well.

It is easy to wonder if blogging has any impact or value.  It is certainly an investment in time and the crunched numbers don’t always provide feedback that has clarity, even if interesting for reflection and awareness.  I am not sure this summary post has value either, but most importantly, I would like to thank all who read and join me in my thoughts shared to this blog!  There may be less about parent engagement and education ahead, but I am sure I will still post or comment about those topics here and there in 2015.

Happy New Year!

Read, filter, share… repeat.

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I read a few posts this week regarding the “echo chamber” and “filtering” in regards to social media networking and reading information online (via my Twitter feed).  Aviva Dunsiger wrote about the importance of connecting with those who challenge our thinking and present us with new ideas to chew on.  Doug Peterson wrote about reading, accessing, and storing information online and through our social media networks.  He also featured an article that helps the awareness about “snake oil” in a PLN.  The article and Doug’s post offer good guidance about the information we process and who/what we choose to read via social networks.  At the time of my reading it, I found the comments added by Brandon and Lisa very valuable and insightful as well.

I think we all use different strategies to make our online and social media experiences personally suitable and I suspect those strategies change continually — people read and share online for different and varied purposes.  I am not sure what contributes the most to an “echo chamber” — maybe a number of things.  Social media itself keeps changing how information is received and shared as well.  I find I continually reflect why and how I am using social media, as well as about what I share.  I think it is easy for an individual to feel that what they share is not on the radar of anyone and that it would be much easier and more comfortable to just “lurk” and read.  But then does that just allow for the “big” content sharers to keep being the big “content” sharers and/or “thought leaders”?

I think decisions about what to share (of ourselves and of others) is often impacted by a concern about one’s own “brand” and/or about how one might be perceived by others in these spaces.  We could also be very unaware just how much we might miss about a topic or a side to a story, even if we think our networks are diverse and openly sharing.  Also, we all choose how deep we dig into any particular topic or story.  Last week I read this article and interview with Gabor Maté, “How Capitalism Makes Us Sick”.  His points about the internet caused me to ponder.  For example,

And the Internet, whether it’s the amount of information or the way it’s accessible, it may actually be causing people to remain more on the surface than actually digging into ideas.”

So with that and add in the possible pressures to be positive and considerate about a reputation in social media, such as suggested in this article, it does make we wonder a lot about what we are tailoring and filtering for and of ourselves in these spaces.

I guess we are all still figuring it out… as users, learners, networkers, promoters, and products in online/social media spaces. It’s complicated for adults too. Or is it just me? If anyone reads this to the end… :)

 

 

Voice and choice

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I adjusted my time using social media when summer arrived and even more when the weather finally felt like summer.  But as August creeped up, I have been dipping back into the social media sharing and news more.  With recent events and news in our communities and our world, I do appreciate that I can sign into Twitter and catch more perspectives on events and issues.  But there has been a lot to take in lately, if one chooses to take it in through these spaces.  So I am plopping down some thoughts in reflection… many of which I am sure have been said before by others.

I have no doubt that social media has impacted how we choose to communicate, if not what we communicate and with whom.  I think it has also impacted how we process and react to events and news – positive and negative.  It is not hard to pick up on the dissatisfaction that occurs when some don’t like what others are posting (or not posting) into the timelines on Twitter.  There is often debate about how Twitter should (or should not) be used, and there seems to be no shortage of articles suggesting ways to use social media better to increase one’s influence, etc.

But really, I don’t think anyone can tell another how they must use Twitter or other social media platforms.  Each platform does have its own “psychology” and communication norms which can impact how users share and behave, but I think it is important to remember that our experiences and perceptions of social media can be impacted by those we follow/friend and what we attend to.  We can choose or adjust our experiences and time in these spaces.  I can understand that can be easier said than done.  I get that these online connections can build and lead to close relationships.  I can understand that there may be pressure in maintaining a network to support our work and purpose.  These pressures exist for adults and youth, I believe.  But in the end, we still have many choices in this experience and in these spaces.  We may have to accept that we can’t tell someone how to use or what to share on social media any more than we can tell someone how to live their life.  It has been reassuring to see some response in this regard from some social media platforms and representatives in some situations.

However, I find it most unfortunate that there are individuals who may decide that the best choice is to stop using social media completely.  I can respect that — there are some horrendous stories.  Choice and adjustment of one’s network and sharing may not be enough to feel safe and comfortable or worthwhile for some.  I hope such situations lessen ahead, but I am not sure how confident I am that they will.  It can seem so complicated at times.

Some other related reading that helped me think about voice and choice:

Web Trolls Winning as Incivility Increases   (NY Times article)

Important Voices (blog post by Mark Carbone)

 

“Social” or Promotional Media?: Part 2

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I have been sensing some shifts in social media lately and I have been reflecting if it has affected my interest, or whether my priorities and interests have just changed.  In my previous post I wondered about the introduction and the impact of the “mute” option on Twitter.  I realize that some may not have the option if they are using Tweetdeck or other Twitter clients, but I think we still can inadvertently “mute” many people we follow in different ways as we often read from personal lists and we can only read so much.  I sometimes wonder if some people read what others are sharing on Twitter at all.  There is a lot of sharing of links and images on Twitter.  But maybe that is fine, as there are many people who don’t share and prefer to read what others post.

We call it “social” media, but it is easy to sense the promotional focus of it.  I know that more organizations and businesses have embraced social media and that platforms must adjust to user needs as well as stay in business themselves.  Organizations and businesses do share some great content, but their focus is to promote their own purpose or product in the end.

Often when I am trying to understand what I am sensing, something shows up in my social media newsfeeds that helps. I had a listen to this video of a presentation by Gary Vaynerchuk, Stop Storytelling Like It’s 2007.  If you can get past the “F sharps”, he shares many good points and insights about storytelling – why, what, how, and where.  The talk was for a social media marketing audience, but when he said, “Marketers ruin everything”, I listened to the end.  Good points were made about how the “psychology” of the different social media platforms is often missed and how context was more important than content in reaching an audience. His talk captured the realties and challenges of getting the attention of users and consumers, and he reminds that respecting the nuances of each platform is important.

It all makes we wonder where this leaves individuals amidst all the increase of users, platforms, information, and advertising?  Does the individual blogger have to consider marketing strategies and platform psychology in order to have an audience and voice?  Gary suggested that marketers need to tell stories and “give” like a human being, not like a brand.  They need to listen instead of talk and act human every day in “micro moments”.  He suggested that people seem to think they need to be witty on Twitter to get attention, and being kind is not the priority of users.  Is that really the general perception of Twitter users? Is this how marketers will stand out from that?  Gary suggested that marketers and businesses should offer value, respond and engage with users — then asking for their business becomes easier.  Can individuals also have any of these as priorities?  If they did, would they get noticed? Would it seem trustworthy, or suspicious?

I started using Twitter to follow and learn from people and be a part of conversations (where I felt welcome and where I thought I could contribute a helpful perspective).  I have enjoyed sharing perspectives and contributions of others in education conversations and debates.  I have valued what others share using social media and I pass a fair bit of relevant information to each of my family members.  (I should thank and let those people who share those bits know that more.)  I blog and share what I care about, what I find interesting, or what I think my followers might appreciate.  Some people using Twitter suggest that we should refrain from retweeting too much.  But we all have different followers and networks, and someone we follow isn’t just tweeting/retweeting for the benefit of one specific follower.  Also, If someone engages with me, I try my best to respond and acknowledge.  It is manageable when you are not a “rock star” Twitter user :)

However, I still wonder how much the changes and the various uses of social media are affecting my experience as I try to stick with what I feel is appropriate for me.  The new Twitter profile encourages us to “pin” selected tweets to “show off your best stuff”.  It can seem as if there is an underlying assumption that we are all about establishing a personal “brand”.  Content and advertising on Facebook seem to be pushing through in different ways.  I am reluctant to “like” anything.  I follow a few people on Twitter who share interesting things about social media, but I also see many articles about improving one’s reach, influence and audience with blogs and Twitter.  Where does this leave individuals just sharing with a purpose and trying to have a network and a voice with no motive for business or monetary gain?

I know I am just a guest in these spaces and there are things that one just has to tolerate, but there have been reports that Twitter has had some challenges in keeping and attracting users.  Why do users leave?  Why can it be difficult to stay? Is it getting more difficult to be ourselves or an individual on social media?  Is it best just to become readers, lurkers, and receivers of information and promotions on social media?  The writer of this article suggests that Twitter now has 2 uses.  1) To support ads as a revenue tool and 2) To snark.  Yet I can think of many people who bring so much more value to Twitter than that.  Many are kind, helpful, and share good insights.

I know we can all adjust our networks, unfollow/unfriend and now mute who we follow on Twitter, but how “social” is this media going to remain ahead?  Was it ever really authentic? Sharing can be caring, but what actually gets attention and shared the most?  How does that impact what individuals do in these spaces? Is it enough to stay purposeful and kind? How do we guide our youth for these spaces and changes ahead?

I am not sure who will read all my thoughts and questions, but I wanted to write them down… see where things go ahead.  Thank you if you did read.  I welcome your thoughts.

“Social” or Promotional Media?: Part 1

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I enjoy the dialogue about many topics on Twitter, as well as the discussions about Twitter on Twitter :)  I have been catching some conversation and reaction in tweets regarding Twitter’s new “mute” button.  I have seen a few people wonder about the impact on engagement and others wondering about its usefulness and purpose.

I read a post that explained its function and possible purpose quite well. (Thank you for sharing, Mike @mikekujawski).  How NOT to get muted by Twitter’s new function also refers to engagement,

The true measure of success for brands on Twitter will no longer be just follower numbers. Especially when it’s impossible to know how many of those followers are actually listening any more. Engagement is the success metric that counts now.”

Here is the advice and reassurance to “brands”:

The Twitter mute button will essentially let your followers be the judge of your content strategy. And you can be fairly sure that regular, repetitive streams of self-promotion are going to be quickly and quietly turned off.

Twitter is not ‘punishing’ brands, it’s trying to adapt to become a better social network. To keep up with changes like these, brands are also going to need to adapt and to commit to being truly social themselves.”

So, the focus is about brands and keeping things “social”?  Muting will be a form of feedback? Where does the individual user factor into this and in social media in general? Just trying to make sense of it.  More of my thoughts to come.  I welcome yours.

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