I’m a hypocrite

I’ve become quite a strong advocate for downplaying the fear mongering and safety concerns of online life that have been proven false. At the same time, I’ve spent much more time with teachers and classrooms talking about what to watch out for and how to make good choices.

I generally see the internet as a public place. I’ve also said as Scott McNealy has, that privacy is dead. While I do realize there are more safer places to engage in private activity, in general it’s best to see the internet as a public space. I also believe and try to model that you don’t say things online that you wouldn’t say in person. (Notice all the trackbacks to my own blog, the more I add, the more of a hypocrite I am) Saturday I violated this rule.

Graham Wegner had a rather light-hearted post about spelling and Matthew Tabor picked it up and in an effort to be funny and make a point, posted content I felt went over the top in terms of etiquette and manners. I’m not about to rehash that argument, you can feel free to post on his blog if you like. I made my initial comment on his blog then posted to twitter and used the word “obnoxious” to describe Matthew. I would have never called him that to his face. I hadn’t intended for Matthew to see that. How did Matthew know I called him obnoxious? First of all his stats told him of the numbers of people visiting his blog from twitter. While 98% of people not using twitter wouldn’t know about TweetScan, Matthew did. It’s not that I regret posting the item to twitter it’s calling him obnoxious that was wrong. I might have whispered it to friends or used that word in private conversations but not publicly. I’ve done this a few times where I’ve gotten so comfortable using Twitter that I’ve forgotten, it’s not private. I could turn on the privacy key in twitter and allow only those that I choose to see my tweets but for a lot of reasons, that doesn’t feel right to me. I’m proud of my online trail of breadcumbs and value openness more than privacy when it comes to online life.

For me twitter is an echo chamber and that’s okay. It’s a place to hang out with like minded folks, exchange links, lament your sick kids, invite others to help you out and participate in some good natured fun. It’s not meant to push my thinking. It’s more of a group than a network. I get pushed and seek diversity here and in other spaces and also support debate. That’s why I subscribe to people like Matthew, to push me and he did. In this case to also reveal my own weakness and error. My apologies and thanks Matthew.

PS. I still disagree with your post 😉

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  • To backtrack and admit a mistake is admirable but far too rare, to do so publicly even rarer. Thanks for sharing your experience and your reflections. The opportunity to learn from the experience of others sums up much of what is best about online “networking”, and I for one always seem to have so much to learn! A forum such as Twitter is indeed a very public place, but I think it’s easy to be lulled into a comfort level there that makes one forget just how public it is. What you’ve written here is exactly the sort of cautionary tale we need to be sharing with learners in our classrooms. So, thanks for making the mistake and for providing a poignant teachable moment for the rest of us. Or, perhaps I really mean to say “learnable” moment.

    On another subject entirely, I’m intrigued by the options for audio and video commenting that are now on your blog. This warrants further exploration, even if I’m likely to discover that it won’t work on edublogs.org

  • Hi Dean,
    Well said. Your apology was done with much graciousness. Our writings, I do believe, reflect our personalities. After reading through Graham’s post, Mathew’s reply, and the comments that followed, I would have to agree that it was Matthew’s tone that struck me. It was NOT gracious. I felt that it was like listening to a lecture, although the information was informative. It could have been presented in a different tone with much less sarcasm. I believe that you had every right to voice your opinion, and I thought you did it with respect.

  • Dean,

    I’ve only got a minute, so I’ve got to be quick with the reply.

    There’s no need to apologize. Your Twitter convo. wasn’t offensive at all – I just found the general Twittering ironic, amusing and [a very small bit of] sad commentary about how we use technology.

    Here’s why:

    1. For all the advocacy about accountability and authenticity in technology, a group of gossipers were exposed by the stuff they evangelize incessantly. That is funny to me. At the risk of sounding US-centric [THE HORROR!], they got Spitzered.

    You didn’t, but a few of your colleagues did – I’ll get to that. But it’s a mix of hubris and a misunderstanding of the technologies’ implications.

    2. Twitter was used here by your colleagues in lieu of discussing something directly with the primary source – in this case, me and Graham. That is a problem.

    I created a post on my website that allowed for discussion of the topic. I didn’t reply on Graham’s blog because I felt that we were discussing different things and I always avoid hijacking threads/posts. I do not delete any comments, so what you see on my site is the full, unfettered debate.

    You have nothing to apologize about. You engaged in the debate, the discussion, the conversation. That is what responsible people do. It’s also effective for everyone – as we’ve attested before, we all had a better understanding of the issue as the conversation progressed.

    “OMG OMG he iz sewww mean n lyke r00d” comments with one another on Twitter do not lead to understanding. They are useless and several of your colleagues stopped there. It is infinitely less valuable than getting into a discussion with a primary player – me or Graham [there were no relevant comments on his blog post].

    It is incredibly important that ed-tech’ers realize how often they use media like Twitter *in lieu of* conversation with a primary source or, at the least, a secondary source. Hey, go for tertiary sources who just know a ton. All three options are more valuable than discussing something with Twitterfriends.

    I know that sometimes our Twitterfriends, especially those with high-profile networks, ARE those sources. That’s acceptable. I’m talking about when they aren’t.

    It’s probably time that more people admitted what you did here – that Twitter is an excellent social network, security blanket, source of fun, and beneficial echo-chamber. Some argue that placing limits on technology hinder our “pushing its boundaries,” but it’s important to note that better-defining the purpose of technology can also keep us from using it inefficiently – or, again, in lieu of something better.

    3. I don’t use Tweetscan. It works if you want to search for popular keywords or something like “NECC” that is likely to appear *one way and one way only*. It does not work for any term that could be abbreviated differently, shortened, etc. For example, if I were to have Tweetscanned “tabor,” I wouldn’t have come up with sujokat’s comment that referred to me as “mr T.” Identifying and following networks manually is far more effective.

    And the ed-tech community is incredibly predictable. What you don’t expose when you’re helping us all to see the light can be inferred from when you’re telling us all that we’re too dumb to see the light [generalization, present company excluded].

    I Googled a few names + twitter, followed some tweets and explored the networks and comments. In about 5 minutes, I’d found several people who were discussing the post in a way that generally couldn’t be read by others, archived, etc.

    There was also a difference in tone – and in content, with some that I chose not to highlight – between the website comments [responsible, committed to debate] and the Twitters [ughhhhghghghgh]. Mismatches in tone between what’s public and what’s private are a good topic to think more about.

    For what it’s worth, in addition to doing graduate/professional school admissions consulting, I also have a contract with a search engine. I’m fairly good at research and following things.

  • Tina,

    a) I still think that Dean’s reply was unnecessary. He engaged in the debate.

    b) You, Dean, Graham and others probably have more friends than I do.

    c) If the post had the tone of a lecture, it’s because I felt that’s what was needed. Because some likely didn’t want to hear it doesn’t mean it was unnecessary.

    d) No one – at any point – suggested that Dean or anyone else didn’t have the right to give their opinion. That’s why I encouraged discussion and dissent without editing or deleting any comments. It was a good debate and we’re all thinking more because of it.

  • Matthew,

    Decided to tackle this face to face….sort of.


    In case this video won’t play/work or you don’t want to watch me blabber for 90 seconds, I’ll summarize.

    I’m not trying to sound disingenious but really do have to apologize for using a word in what I thought was a private space (temporary lapse in judgment). I wouldn’t call you that to your face so I had no right saying it. That’s just my policy. I think too many cowardly hide behind their blog and say all sorts of things they’d never say in public. I won’t do that so I broke whatever standards I’ve set for myself.

    As far as the content of your comment…wow! If that’s what you come up with in only a few minutes, I can see why you said you didn’t take hours crafting a response to Graham as I suggested….another apology and also thanks for your many insights here. Good stuff and while I’m not sure I agree, you’ve once again pushed my thinking. Thanks.

  • Hello Matthew,

    I’m not sure whether to respond on Dean’s page or your page, but since we are conversing here, I will continue here.

    I have only been blogging since this past summer, but I thought the point of blogging was to converse and participate “in the conversation.” So, when I stated that I felt that Dean had the right to voice his opinion, I was a little confused because you seemed to contradict yourself when first you stated that:

    a) I still think that Dean’s reply was unnecessary. He engaged in the debate.


    d) No one – at any point – suggested that Dean or anyone else didn’t have the right to give their opinion. That’s why I encouraged discussion and dissent without editing or deleting any comments. It was a good debate and we’re all thinking more because of it.”

    I think that we can all agree that debate can be good, if done in a constructive manner. I have judged many a debate contest in my day and it is always done with mutual respect.

    I, myself, use twitter as a social network, but never saw any of the referenced twitter posts. Therefore, I am not sure what you were referring to when you stated:

    “b) You, Dean, Graham and others probably have more friends than I do.”

    Finally, your last comment was “c) If the post had the tone of a lecture, it’s because I felt that’s what was needed. Because some likely didn’t want to hear it doesn’t mean it was unnecessary.”

    Certainly, that was your right to present in lecture-style. I never stated the I didn’t want to hear it or that it was unnecessary. I simply suggested and still believe that if you would have presented it with a more gracious tone, the message would have been better received.

    After all, the point of a debate is to persuade one’s audience. When people are met with sarcasm, they are sometimes put off, rather than convinced of the message. I hope you see that my intentions are not to offend but to encourage thoughtful consideration to softening your tone next time.

  • Tina,

    I can see where I was unclear about his reply being unnecessary. I meant that an apology was unnecessary. I tried not to be too careless as I dashed off a reply but that line could’ve been more clear.

    The ‘friends’ comment was a lighthearted quip about how we choose to go about things and the consequences of that. It was a throwaway line.

    I understand your intentions re: comments about styles.

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