It’s not my birthday. More on the photo in a bit.
Today I was introduced by Jennifer Cronk as someone who has been around the world of edtech for a while. She’s right. I started blogging 10 years ago, opened my twitter account 9 years ago. That’s like a 100 in normal people years. It’s odd to look back at the changes but today’s post by George Couros has me reminiscing.
I also liked this quote and have used it often.
People seem to get nostalgic about a lot of things they weren’t so crazy about the first time around. ~Author Unknown
In 2005 the world of blogging was a bit like being a pioneer. Few people were doing it and most people didn’t even know what it was. I was able to connect with people around the world, have people comment and interact on topics most people I knew weren’t that interested in discussing. In those days, spending time online made you a nerd. I blogged a lot because I was finding new things all the time. It was my way of documenting and sharing that really. As I become more confident, I tackled more challenging topics. In many cases, my posts were an extended respond to other people’s writing.
I’ve written quite about my twitter experience, with this one being a particular favourite. Twitter for me was a playground. “Back in the day” there were no hashtags, no mentions. Just the simple prompt of “What are you doing?” which taken in that vain meant you told people you were eating a sandwich. Twitter had a reputation for being a place of banality. Rightfully so. But what emerged was an odd sense of connection. Unlike blogging where most folks wrote about their professional learning, twitter was playful. It was social. Then came the educators. They attempted to “edufy” it. And they succeeded. Instead of a staff room feel where you escaped the challenges of teaching, now conversations about teaching dominated the space. I totally get that this is my little perspective and while I make that sound negative, for others, it remains a wonderful entry point to new learning. For me, something has been lost, for others, something gained. While my followers have grown, my interaction has decreased. If I post a pithy quote, it tends to get lost of attention. Certainly a lot more than if I make a joke or try to engage in playful banter. As I’ve said before, on twitter, I would rather make someone smile than share something educational. That’s just me, I get it. I’m not trying to suggest I’m right.
When people talk about the “good old days” of school, I think for the most part they’re delusional. The good old days weren’t that great in general. However, I do see elements of the past that deserve some consideration. Field trips are a great example of something we used to do more of but because of money and logistics have decreased significantly. In its place, we now offer many outstanding virtual experiences. I would like more of both. I think teachers are more stressed today. The demands of the job make folks long for a time when initiatives and change are happening at such a frantic rate.
When I think about blogging, I remember when commenting was a thing. Bill Ferriter has lamented the decline of commenting for a while. He’s a faithful blogger and commenter and we all could learn from his commitment to extend conversations. I think people still read blogs, they just aren’t commenting.
As far as twitter, I see my own interactions decline. In 2012, I tweeted almost 13,000 times. Last year it was about half. I get it, that’s still an insane amount but nonetheless, it’s a significant drop. It’s just not as playful. I’ve shifted much of my conversation to places like Voxer with smaller numbers and that’s likely a reasonable and healthy transition. But I miss the opportunity to connect with new people in an informal way because most new folks have been told that twitter is a great space for PD. They’ve come for the learning. By the way, the photo above is from Steve Ransom who shared it via twitter after some banter and jesting around my age on a recent birthday. Those things rarely happen anymore.
I get it, this probably sounds grumpy old mannish. I truly don’t want to be that guy and George is right, there isn’t a right way or wrong way to use any of these spaces. But there is a part of me that remembers the past with some fondness. That’s not bad is it?