It was a big one. 50. 50 years old. To celebrate I planned a week of golf with buddies. Sandwiched in between was a couple of speaking gigs. I left 5 days before the big day. The day before I left I received a package in the may from Phillip Cummings. In it was a pair of Memphis Grizzlies socks. What a lovely gift. I left town and didn’t think much more about it other than to thank him for his thoughtfulness. A few days later, my wife began posting pictures of packages that were arriving at the house. In a strange twist, these packages were not for her. Each day more were added to the pile. By the time I arrived home 9 days after my birthday, there were 52 packages for me from people all over the world.

Looking over this pile I was completely overwhelmed at the thought that so many people would think of me. I didn’t want to open them, I saw the cumulative as an unbelievable gesture of care and community. Many of the people are people I’ve known for many years but others I’ve never met. As I opened each package I thought about that person and the connections I had. For the few, I didn’t have a connection I thought about why they would do such a thing. This is such a powerful representation of the strength of weak ties.

When other people have not yet experienced this networked life, it’s a bit odd to fathom how and why people would ever do such a thing as send a dude in Moose Jaw, SK a pair or two of socks.

I continue to spend much of my time imploring people both young and older to tap into the beauty of these personal networks. I rarely use the acronym, PLN ¬†because, for me, the P is more often “personal” rather than strictly “professional” and the L is not always about “learning”, but for me is better substituted for “living”. While I deserve none of this, the only thing I know I have done and tried to do is to connect with people online in ways that go way beyond learning and our shared profession.

I’m still a bit in the dark around who exactly is responsible for this. I have my suspects but I really do want to thank everyone involved in this and actually everyone who brings so much joy and meaning to my life through the various spaces and places I reside online. If you’re still hung up on digital dualism, please rethink this.

Socks4Dean from shareski on Vimeo.

So once again, thank you to all of you.

Rafranz Davis @rafranzdavis
Bill Ferriter @plugusin
Jackie Kirk & Mike Nantais @jackie007_41 @miken_bu
Mme Giannopolous @tgianno
Kathy Cassidy @kathycassidy
Zoe Bettes @zoebettes
Donna Desroches @donnadesroches
Dave Truss @datruss
Susan Spellman Cann @sspellmancann
Paula Naugle @plnaugle
Hall Davidson @halldavidson
Kim Gill @Gill_Ville
Elaan Maire @elaan
Karen Lirenman @klirenman
Peggy George @pgeorge
Shelley Wright @wrightsroom
Iram Khan @teachermrskhan
Beth Still @bethstill
Heather Blacker @heatherblacker
Adam Bellow @adambellow
Robyn Thiessen @RobynThiessen
Andy Mckiel @amckiel
Brian Metcalfe @bkmetcalfe
Lisa Parisi @lparisi
Carolyn Durley @c_durley
Alanna Callan @alanacallan
Diana Williams @teacherdiana1
Rick Schwier @schwier
Brianne Koletsos @B_KOL
Michelle Cordy @cordym
Paul and Diane Wood @paulrwood
Stuart Ciske @sjciske
Andy Marcinek @andycinek
Andrew Mead and Erin Brie @andrewmead73 @erinbrie
Chris Craft @crafty184
Donna Fry @fryed
Sandy Welbergen & Jeff Hoeppner @MsWelbergen @BlueBomber6
Tina Photakis @tina_p
Faige Meller @duboiseducator
Jamie Reaburn Weir @msjweir
Tia Henriksen @tiahenriksen
Henry Pham
Alec Couros @courosa
Cathy Germano @cjgerman
Lance Rougeux @lrougeux
Michelle Baldwin @michellek107
Dana Ariss @danaAriss
Andrew Forgrave @aforgrave
Phillip Cummings @phillip_cummings
Steve Dembo @teach42
Porter Palmer @DENprincess
Kyle Schutt @ktschutt
Jannita Demian @jdemian
Chad Lehman @imcguy
Jeanette Edelstein @J_Edelstein
Stacy Barganz @BarganzS

The final tally was 86 pairs. A clear meat theme several sports teams and a couple of doubles. My daughter claimed every duplicate pair. ¬†Now when I say I have to stay home and rearrange my sock drawer, I won’t be lying.

*I think I may have a sock or two mixed up. My apologies. If any more come in the mail, I’ll add them to this set.