I suppose I’m the only one here who groaned when I heard Google+ was coming but, y’know, I don’t need another social network. I’m quite happy here thankyou. No really. Quite happy. Oh, ok. Almost happy here.
Here’s a quick expose on why I use Twitter and some other social media.
The BBC charter says something about seeking to ‘inform, educate and entertain’ and without wishing to sound too grandiose I’d say that I’m here on Twitter to learn, support and amuse.
I joined Twitter because I wanted to be more in touch with teachers. To understand their challenges, to share in their enthusiasm and successes – and it’d be fair to say that Twitter has been an outstanding success in this regard. What I hadn’t been prepared for was the immediacy and wealth of links, blogs and resources that are so readily shared by seemingly the nicest and most dedicated bunch of people on the planet.
Bish Bash Bosh
It is the brevity of Twitter that appeals to me. 140 characters of juicy information, ideas and weblinks. No casual preamble of the conversation in the staffroom or conference. No chit chat about the state of the corridors, kitchen area or absence of discipline in the school yard. Just short sharp sentences with a focus on teaching and learning. Even when we digress and stray off topic, I really don’t mind 140 characters of ‘Im so tired, roll on end of term’. The length of a tweet pretty much matches my attention span. Anything longer and I start skim reading so effectively I doubt I read any of the words at all.
And there’s the rub. One of the alleged benefits of Google+ is the opportunity to write at greater length and expand on ideas and observations more fully. Each time I look at my G+ timeline my heart sinks when I see daunting and intimidating blocks of text of possibly approaching 100 words. No sir, that’s not for me. When you can edit to 140 characters let me know and I’ll pop over to G+ to see what you’ve got for me and for me to share.
Y’know there are people from all walks of life, all over the world, in different time zones and ever’yfink, on Twitter. Some of them address their tweets to me. Sometimes they’re interesting. Quirky. Useful. Shocking. Funny.
I can’t say I’m particularly interested in The Celebs out there. I tried following a couple of comedians I like but was ultimately disappointed with their sometimes contrived tweets and a sense that I was still the punter and they, the entertainer. That said, it is interesting how I can engage with people who in ‘real’ or ‘analogue’ life would not have made the effort or the opportunity to speak with me, share advice, ideas and sometimes shoot the breeze. I would count among some of my most valued contacts on Twitter photographers, journalists, writers and even people who may be thousands of miles away, in different time zones and to be honest I don’t really know what they do.
So what’s my problem?
I now need to organise all these people, put them into circles and interact with them within these ‘closed’ circles. I know I can create multiple channels but even so, what I’m really doing is denying myself the most important element that attracted me to Twitter in the first place; the random opportunity and interaction someone, somewhere may bring to my timeline. @documentally spoke with me about this theme a while ago and he maintains that (to roughly paraphrase) if we nurture the little conversations then they will lead to the important and big conversations. (I appreciate that I’m arguing against myself in that one of my many objections and concerns about Facebook is the lack of privacy. G+ appears to address this by allowing users to manage who appears in each circle/timeline) By creating a Google+ socialnetwork for myself which only includes people I have sanctioned, invited and approved I am in reality negating the possibility of new and unexpected interactions occuring. What turned me to Twitter and edtech socialnetworks was the desire to engage with new and different thinkers from the ‘real’ analogue and physical relationships that permeate my day to day work. I have a real need and enthusiasm for fresh ideas and experiences and by creating neat and cosy circles I fear I will lose more than I could gain.
It’s not only Twitter ofcourse that provides a global platform for random and unpredictable engagement. My Flickr, Posterous, WordPress and YouTube channels all act as conduits for interesting observations, statements of support and challenging comments albeit less frequently.
I have a nice little system going here. Nothing too complicated yet meets my personal and professional needs. My WordPress is for the deeper thinking reflections. Usually around 1000 words of considered and crafted (yes I know..) prose. My Posterous is a scrapbook. Mostly snapshots taken and uploaded with my Android phone and autoposting to Twitter, Flickr and Youtube. It is here on the Posterous that insights into my analogue life appear including food, my dog and my sproggs. By autoposting to Flickr Pro I have a relatively safe and reliable backup where the pics can be later tagged, grouped and archived. (ever lurking in the background is Delicious where all those resources, blogs, tools etc. are saved and shared)
I have all my bases covered by the Big 3; Posterous, Twitter and WordPress. I can’t see how G+ can do anything other than dilute and weaken the opportunity for my learning and laughing. Ofcourse, this will all need reviewing if every one of my Twitter pals leaves and only interacts on G+, leaving me in a place where random has entirely replaced regular and dependable.
It should also be noted that I’m rubbish at embracing new stuff. I thought YouTube sounded like a naff idea; who in their right mind would want to watch other people’s videos?
I’m @simfin on Twitter
and that smashin’ picture of Rihanna’s tasty tattoo comes to you from the amazing @markpower