Social networking is fun as well as interesting to watch, study, and participate in. (I know, I’m ending a sentence with a preposition, but I’m hoping you’ll forgive me…) I was amazed tonight, in scanning over the WikiPedia list of social networking websites, to see that MySpace reportedly has over 289 million users now. If you’ve seen Karl Fisch’s “Did You Know 2.0” video you’ve likely heard (or seen) the statistic “If MySpace was a country, it would be the 8th largest in the world.” The number of people using social networking websites is HUGE and growing. Microsoft has noticed, making a $240 million investment in FaceBook a couple of weeks ago. (Amazing that price just bought them a 1.6% share in the company.) Google recently announced its OpenSocial coding effort, which (according to Wired magazine writer Bryan Gardiner) is:
…an interoperable toolkit for building social networking apps. It aims to make the lives of widget and app developers a little easier. At the same time it lets Google indirectly challenge its major social networking competitor: Facebook.
Since NECC 2006 in Atlanta I’ve been a Twitter user. Twitter is not a social networking technology that appeals to everyone, and I was admittedly “late to the party.” I find great value in Twitter, however, when I want to see the ideas and links which are on the “information radar screens” of others in the edublogosphere. Similar to Ning, however, and more generally other social networking environments, I think it is wise to be wary when choosing to “friend” others.
Twitter is a bit unusual as a social networking environment, since people have to “follow” you in order for them to see what you’ve written to them. This aspect of Twitter, where people have individual and group chats around topics by putting the @ symbol and someone’s Twitter ID after it, is one of the most engaging and interesting ways Twitter is being used.
I wrote “Be wary of Ning friend requests” back in April, and today I found the same idea carries forward into Twitter. Consider the following Twitter profile– a person who is following me, but I chose NOT to follow:
This person (whose identity I have hidden in the screensnap, because I don’t intend to criticize this person individually, rather I want to highlight and discuss their behavior) is following over 3000 people. Their Twitter updates seem to have nothing to do with education or other issues about which I’m interested, but rather seem to be entirely self-promotional. That behavior is not “wrong” or illegal, of course, but certainly defines this person as someone I am likely not interested in “following” on Twitter.
It’s going to be interesting to see what happens as more and more people get onto Twitter and use it. Right now, the number of posts at a time is something I can follow… I can engage in conversations there. My “normal” procedure as far as “following” others on Twitter has been, however, to always follow people if they follow me… and if they appear to be someone interested in and focused on educational related topics. It seems important to me to “follow my followers” because otherwise, if one of those people want to send me a message, I won’t see it on my Twitter radar screen (I use Twitterific most of the time when I’m “on”) and they will be, essentially, “shouting at the rain” as someone commented today on Twitter. I’ve actually been in that position in Twitter myself, and found it frustrating. So…
Be wary who you follow on Twitter. Now, before automatically following someone who is following me, I’m linking to their profile. If they are following over 3000 people, I’m immediately suspicious. I’m not opposed to their use of the network, but if there are signs they are not truly interested in conversations and ideas related in some way to education and learning, then most likely I’m not interested in following their thoughts and posts on Twitter.
Does anyone else have thoughts on how to decide whether or not to follow someone who is following you?
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On this day..
- Learning about Schoolwide WordPress Blogs with Andrea Hernandez - 2015
- Tough Creative Love: The Why and How of Creative Action - 2012
- Breakthrough Thinking by Peter Diamandis - 2012
- Encouraging Creativity in Education through Community & Technology - 2012
- Leading a Culture of Innovation by Sir Ken Robinson - 2012
- Creating Oral History Interview Videos on an iPod Touch - 2011
- iPad Doorprizes, Clearly Announced Conference Recording Permissions, & Ustreaming #micon - 2010
- Carl Anderson on Learning and the Purpose of School (video) - 2010
- Controversial Anti-Abortion Education Campaign at UNT - 2010
- Utilizing Social Media (in schools and for citizen journalism) #collab21 - 2010