Dear PLN

Dear Professional Social Network / PLN,

In the beginning, although I was not interested in what you had for breakfast, I was interested in what you thought about things. And you told me, in tweets and blogs and comments on my blog. Things were good.

But as time has passed, you have turned to posting links, often without comment. Sometimes these links are very interesting, but I can’t know until I click on them, and either way I’m not getting anything from you except the link. And when I create a link-less post in Twitter, I don’t often get much response.

Now I understand that I am supposed to consider you as nodes in my network and as filters for my information. But to me, you were so much more. And now you blog less, if at all, and instead give me lots of links to works by other people. If you read my blog anymore (and the numbers indicate you don’t) you rarely comment. If I comment on yours, little conversation ensues unless you are a very big name with many people commenting to each other.

I don’t know how to tell you this, but I don’t want just links. I want you, your thoughts and dreams, your frustrations and successes. And I want that just as much from those of you who are big social media stars in educational technology as I do from my more intimate connections. And you all scroll by so fast these days, with all those links; it’s hard to find the comments you do make.

So I’ve been hanging less and less around our old haunts. Twitter is occasional rather than daily. I moved all my RSS feeds to Netvibes to get away from Reader, so I see your posts better now. Some of them are just RSS feeds of links. I was going to spend more time with you in Google +, where there seemed to be some Buzz-like conversation at first. But even there now it’s mostly links. And Facebook? We made a little corner for ourselves, where people feel comfortable to … post a lot of links.

I think we need to talk.

21 thoughts to “Dear PLN”

  1. Just to say that I do read your blog! It’s one of the few that I still read pretty regularly, but I’m not reading blogs so much anymore exactly because I’ve mostly moved to Google+ this year. My experience with Google+ is that it is still very much conversation-driven although of course it follows the ebb and flow of people’s work weeks. Anyway, I would urge you to give it a try – the reason I like it so much is exactly because it is not just links (as Twitter so often was) and because it offers a range of conversation that can’t really happen at an individual blog. Here are some notes I put up about Google+ to try to explain to some of my colleagues how it works. 🙂

  2. Does the NetVibes page have an address? Mine is so neglected (except for being fed even when I don’t check in) that it probably thinks I am cheating on it, have another, younger, more buff model stashed away that I spend time on. Or maybe I am polygamous… maybe not a bad way to describe plns for very different but occasionally intersecting, multiple networks (learning, local, activist, literary, arts/culture, place/space collections and research, personal interests). I’ve been thinking about how to coordinate them, other ways to set up and organize plns but keep coming back to NetVibes.

  3. PS same here too. I do read your blog but run short on commenting time and sure could use comment by email or a the blogging equivalent of Hoot Suite for social media.

    Naked links annoy me. Annotate dammit … am I turning into an iteration of the that nitpicking, annotation obsessed prof who taught research methods and bibliography?

  4. Thanks Laura and Vanessa,

    Laura, I do use Google + but am seeing an increasing trend toward just posting links there too. Certainly it’s better than Twitter, but I worry it’s going the same way. Plus a number of people are quitting Google since it became evil. It’s still invaluable for Hangouts.

    Vanessa, I don’t have my feeds on a putlic page – I just offloaded them from Reader and put them in the default private page to act a simple reader.

  5. I haven’t been ingthe private pages as fully as I could but find the new (not improved) Reader more awkward to skim and may give NetVibes a try to see if works better as a reader, play around with bundling combinations to skim by topic (sub-pln) area.

    Increasingly but not yet consistently, I’ve been posting links to G+, more of a share afterthought but not thinking about it as filling former Reader share function as implied in your use.

    Information management is ongoing, never ending… but more fun than housework.

  6. Well, I read your blog and whatever you write that I can find, because you are usually very interesting to read. Unfortunately, I am guilty of not commenting often.

    I totally agree that this “link dumping” is a bad trend (I am not innocent here either, although I try to add some value most of the times), that will probably get a lot worse as “frictionless sharing” evolves. I am still trying to figure out how to keep the conversations going and not be totally overwhelmed by the deluge of information coming my way every day. No success so far :-).

    1. Hi José!

      I noticed on G+ you called this “sharing without any added value or conversation”. I like that. It is still sharing, and we have (rightfully) elevated sharing to a prominent position for educators. But “adding value” seems like it should be part of passing these ideas on as well.

      “Frictionless sharing” is a good name for the “Like” and multiposting trends (most of which I’ve avoided, though I am guilty of the occasional Like, and, for awhile, the +).

  7. I promise…I will try and annotate links I send out. I still am a believer in the notion of a PLN…and count you as one of my “rock solid” sources for learning, both by tweets and blog posts.

  8. Liked the “link dumping” tag :-), José. Dido 4 me. If the PLN is (also) a filter then too much unstructured info gets so useless as general Web info.

  9. Hi Lisa,

    I guess I got back to my Google Reader just in time to catch your blog post. 🙂 I haven’t been much around my hangouts from 1-2 years ago, but getting back a bit more. There is so much stuf coming through Twitter these days that I usually ignore it throughout the day and have some hashtag searches set up that I look at more closely instead of trying to keep up with the stream. It’s not possible during the day as it is too distracting. I hope you are doing fine in Change11.

    1. Hi Kristina! I am participating only very peripherally in Change11 – I am teaching six classes this semester and the POT Certificate Class takes up the rest of my time. I understand the need to follow just a few hashtags – I’m trying that myself in Seesmic but since I forget to type hashtags sometimes, I’m sure others do also. 🙂

  10. Hear, hear!

    I deactivated both of my Twitter accounts today for largely this reason. To call it an echo chamber now isn’t completely accurate; I think it’s worse than that. Even an echo chamber would have voices in it. Feels a bit like the classroom in Ferris Bueller, where the class starts out full of people, yet slowly deteriorates into an empty lecture hall full of tape recorders.

    I stopped deriving much of anything from Twitter a long time ago and see no reason to keep my accounts anymore.

    As much as I’m loathe to admit it, Facebook is the only place (other than Warcraft) where I’m deriving any sense of personal interaction anymore.

    G+ has become a disappointment for the reasons you mentioned. Many people are using it as just another medium for links or syndicating their Twitter stream.

    Blogs are a different story for me personally (when I finally get around to doing it again), since I derive most of my benefit from them from the reflective aspects of it.

    I dunno, perhaps we’re in the trough of disillusionment in the Hype Cycle and Twitter will regain its utility in a slightly different form. For now though it doesn’t have any relevant place in my PLE any more…

    1. In hindsight your post was about social media in general, not Twitter specifically, and I still wholeheartedly agree. I began using Social Media as a way to share my thoughts with others, without any real desire for reciprocation. I find I’m largely reverting to this in my usage.

      I use YouTube and WordPress to share video tutorials and technical help I think may be useful to others, but that’s largely it at the moment. I wasn’t expecting much of any discussion to emerge on my work blog and that’s more or less what’s happened, though I am told people find it useful.

      I think there’s still a Participatory Culture on the internet, but increasingly it seems like it’s less about two-way (or multi-way) conversations and more like muttering to yourself LOL

      1. That’s interesting – I’m doing the same thing. I spend more time blogging and reading blogs, and less time on Twitter, Facebook and G+, and also share on YouTube. Perhaps the expectation of response was guiding some of my work – I struggle with this. I also think that muttering to myself online these days seems to provide an awful lot of information for the marketing purposes of corporations. I’d mind that a lot less if the human communicative element was as persistent. 😉

  11. I love this!! I am frequently feeling as if civilization has moved towards a totally image based language. This is part of the reason why I gave myself the goal to create an entirely image based slide show for this week’s POT submission. I view it like the bigger, more flashy guy in the bar; great to look at but often not much depth. I sure hope that reading doesn’t go the way of cassette tape players. I describe a slightly different topic I realize, but it shares many of the same sentiments as you so nicely conveyed.

    1. It hadn’t occurred to me that this might be about too much reading, but you may be right. Perhaps the YouTubes Mike and I are posting, and images that tell stories, are where it’s all going.

  12. I just discovered and subscribed to your blog today, and I am delighted to read this post! I sometimes feel like there are really only 100 people in the world actually posting thoughtful information, and everyone else is simply passing along links. So thanks to you and others for taking time to think, reflect, and post about ideas and issues.

      1. 3rd or 4th April look like the best days. Tell me what works for you, and I’ll make it work for me. 4th in the evening I have to fly, though.

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