Changing Nature of Relationships

So I haven’t written for a couple days, and I swore to myself that I would keep active on my blogs. It’s hard to balance writing content constantly and keeping it interesting , so I’ve backed off on my daily-ness in favour of quality. Amazing that after all these years (3 years blogging on another service, this blog over a year now, a year at Fear of Smell) that I still haven’t figured it out (the mix, I mean, not blogging).

Was interesting to see this post about the future from The Working Guy at Yahoo (and a similar one by the boob who wrote about how people are getting dumber), who contends that kids who use high-tech social media are lost in face-to-face relationships. Well, he hedges his bet with saying “may be lost…” but it’s the same scare tactic from media. Your kids are going to be turned into mindless zombies incapable of any emotion or thought, or will be unable to function in the “real world”. What’s really interesting is that the notion at the end of the Working Guy article where the author states that the time it takes to study this stuff is too long for the published results to be relevant. Really? Guess you should tell that to the McArthur Foundation or perhaps the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Instead of scare-mongering, perhaps the inverse is what we should be looking at? Instead of social zombies, ready to be strafed like some Resident Evil game, we should look at what is being enhanced.

Another line in the article got my attention (and at 8:30 AM, that’s a bit of a feat) was the tie-in to work environments. Well, again, instead of the negative side, maybe this is a push to create a community of telecommuters. Lots of people have been pushing this idea, and while I’m not in favour of having my work with me all the time, there are tangible benefits environmentally and economically. The continuous partial attention is something that work has forced on us anyways, as more work gets put on less workers, something has to give. Also, the fact that work has become less of a defining role on who we are as an entity, another benefit of social media, in my opinion, will give less importance to work as a whole. Never mind that many workers feel undervalued in their jobs and at the end of every pay period.

I’m also seeing a lot of mainstream media talking about this continuous partial attention and I think this Social Media boom is in for a bust soon. We are becoming saturated with social media, ways to connect, and people are becoming more and more selective with which products they choose to use because they are feeling this pressure. It seems that people are paying attention to is based on the network that their connections are connected to.  Sure, that’s a fairly simple observation to make, but the deeper meaning is that new and innovative products, like Twitter say, have to provide something new and tangibly innovative to users or it’s going to struggle. I think a lot of the skepticism around Twitter is because it doesn’t do anything new, except truncate context and provide more immediate access to people. Truncating context, an interesting phenomenon sure, but may be not all that useful to the end user.

Howard Rheingold makes a good point (as he almost always does) in this video about attention and multitasking. Yes, I linked it, as I wonder about the context of embedded links (another post I’m sure). He states that everyone already multitasks and pays attention, more importantly though, we pay attention to what we think is important. That decision making process is a critical thinking process, and if we want people to pay attention, we have to give them an indisputable reason to do that.

So where does that leave us?

Bits and Bobs

Lots of little items to think about:

First off, I’ve been talking theoretically about aesthetics a lot. That probably rankles people a little, because theory is useless without practice. Digital photos are an easy way to add a professional look to a text-heavy space. If you are composing photographs, there are lots of tutorials out there to compose a better picture. Here’s a particularly good, short and sweet, ten steps to creating a superior photograph. It’s not in depth, but a good start if you have no idea where to begin with shooting photos.

Secondly, this idea that Twitter is not being adopted by teens or  Twitter is not being adopted by GenY. Well, the data in this report is really skewed – not too many 2-8 year olds on social media. And then to have the age ranges as 2-24, 25- 54, 55+ seems a little skewed. Having 24 year olds be grouped in with teens almost defies the normal definition of teens. I suppose the idea that Twitter benefits from celebrity tweets or Iran elections is an interesting one as this signals a shift away from corporate news broadcasting (which also might explain a further shift to entertainment from news channels) and to authentic reporting from people in the area. With Twitter looking to add geotagging, this will be even easier to do in the future. Of course, we’ve all heard about Gen Y using shows like The Daily Show as a primary news source. I’m considered Gen X, and I tend to use The Daily Show as a primary news source as I pretty much despise CNN and Fox News. CBC sometimes gets some consideration, but I don’t really gravitate towards dry delivery. I like a smartass approach. People raise this idea as some sort of spectre of the next generation being unable to discern fact from fiction, but I find this generally to be untrue. Gen Y, like all other generational groups get humour and sarcasm.

Third point, Pew Internet released a study about the Internet use of the different generations. I like that the Generations are better defined than the Twitter study earlier, but the conclusion that older generations are “dominant” in Internet use, seems like a no-brainer. Older generations have disposable income and use this stuff for work, so our Internet use will be higher. While much of education is pushing towards online activities, in my experience the elementary schools are still using computers in a way that treats them as a separate course. I do know there are forward thinking teachers, out there, just not at my daughter’s school.

The Corporations Ruin Everything

This morning, while perusing my Twitter feed, I thought I’d bounce around some more keywords in Google to see what I could come up with around the aesthetics of educational spaces. After a couple of promising hits, including a Japanese presentation to a conference (to which my Japanese reading ability is about as much as my flying ability – zero), my network pops up this Henry Jenkins blog posting about Twitter.

I’ve skimmed it, and really need to give a once over at least one more time. It’s a well thought out, balanced critique of Twitter. On the one hand we have this tool that’s seemingly perfect for broadcasting, yet people still insist on having conversations! Jenkins point about the two parts of Twitter, the Here It Is/Here I Am components, seem right. Although, it seems right for an individual – how does a business or organization fit in? It’s an interesting thing to ponder.

We’ve seen with MySpace that genuine existence and experience is a commodity that you can’t overvalue. People left MySpace when things got too business-like, and felt like a burden to login. We’re starting to see this with Twitter as well, where spam/pornobots are becoming slightly more sophisticated and actually making themselves look like they possibly could be humans. I don’t mind deleting or not following a couple of people a day, but the bigger players in the Twitterverse certainly get more of this sort of action. At what point does logging into Twitter become a burden? More importantly, what businesses will be successful in using Twitter, and which ones are going to bully you with endless advertising?

Video Watching Online On The Rise

According to this newly released study by the Pew Institute, the percentage of adults watching videos online has doubled since 2006. They draw a correlation to the amount of users with broadband connections which has hit 63% of Americans. The report also compares activities of what people do online, in one of the more complex ideas brought about by the study. 62% watch videos, 46% use social networking sites and 11% use Twitter/share updates.

I find those ideas interesting because I’m stumped as to how I would answer because most of the videos I see come from social networking sites or Twitter… my experience online is not so binary. How does multitasking fit in?

Also, I was hoping that the study would’ve looked at what kinds of videos (well, not in depth, I suppose those sorts of videos could be classified as “entertainment” I suppose) were viewed: humourous, educational, entertainment, etc

Of course, the study was slanted towards the looking at internet vs. TV, which isn’t a shock. Similar to looking at TV vs. Radio in the mid to late 50’s.

Another Reason To Use Twitter

So, it appears I’m a convert. Yep, a Twitterer. Perhaps just a twit. Anyways, people always ask me, “Why do people use it? Isn’t it just a waste of time?” Well, not always a waste of time. I posted on my Twitter account about the slow length of time that it had been taking for my Technorati claim to go through and really, I didn’t think anything of it. Sure, network traffic may be busy, claims may be going through the roof… holidays for workers… all sorts of options. Lo and behold, Technorati folks were listening. And I didn’t use a hashtag or any special thing. Twitter search must be OK.

Same sort of thing with MediaWiki, when I posted about my problems with an old install (which I also posted about here) they were quick to connect. Clearly, Web 2.0+ companies are paying attention. Facebook responded to the concerns over privacy which spread quickly through blogs and twitter. It will be interesting to see if older models of business are paying attention as well. I suspect the ones that are will be better able to survive the seismic shifts we’re still going to see before things settle down again (if they ever settle down again).

Twitter Week 6

Well, it’s not week 6 anymore, it is in fact week 7. I have to say I was skeptical coming in to using Twitter, not believing it to be very useful at all. In fact, I’ll have to conclude that it is useful – just not in a work sense for me. I don’t think I’ll get much out of Twitter for work – except a link here and there to new websites, maybe a few days before Ed Tech Weekly gets to them (which reminds me, need to listen to that soon). In connectivist terms I’m strengthening some connections as well as gaining a bit of depth behind the ideas that people have put forth.

With all that said, I like it, despite the almost constant barrage of marketing (which is like real life, I suppose), it’s a fun diversion from work, or to tap into some other level of work-related thought. So my conclusions? Well, useful informal tool – that could have some learning application (you could run a daily message from a Twitter account to broaden vocabulary, or to clarify jargon). I would be interested to see if students would feel that it was an infringement of their personal space, creepy treehouse syndrome if you will, seeing as Twitter can be a one-way subscription – the account broadcasting can be a generic non-receptive node.

Twitter Week 5

Really interesting article in the Guardian (which I found out about through a twitter post by Guardian Tech) that shows several levels of usage – one that seems to be common is to promote a business or product. It’s interesting at some levels because business, marketing and advertising has been looking for the perfect 15 second soundbite to sell a product. The same sort of thing happens with RSS feeds, about 150 characters are scrolling by on my desktop widget….

Another side to using Twitter is that you can follow your favourite celebrity (although whether or not it’s actually them is another story). A few NBA stars, like Shaq and Chris Bosh, are using Twitter – of course both are fellas with a good sense of humor… so maybe that’s telling.

Twitter Week 3/4

So, as the pattern of adoption settles in (rabid initial use, followed by less use as one tries to conceptualize how and why to use, which will lead into either disuse or adoption and continued use), I’ve maintained my ability to use twitter at least once a day. I don’t post everyday. As I’ve said before I’m more of a reflective learner/user, I need to be able to think about what the purpose of the tool is or the reason for using it. I’m still not sure why I’m using it, but I do get why other people are using it.

One of the uses that others use Twitter, is to share information – I do not tend to forward these on to my “followers” because most of them are connected already to the source. It’s interesting to see my RSS feeds drop a new tidbit of information, then my Twitter account update with a new tweet with that information as well. Seems that I’m following the same sort of sources as my friends on Twitter.

I suspect that at some point in the near future, the next big social app/web 3.0 thing will be the convergence of your multiple digital selves being able to be managed in one spot. Your Twitter feeds, RSS feeds, blog posts, real life friends, online friends, colleagues and maybe your learning environments all become one. They won’t necessarily interact, though. For instance, my e-learning circle could be separated from my punk rock record collecting circle, so that people from one circle aren’t able to browse my entire life, just the parts from which they came – unless I allow it. Facebook already does this (and Livejournal did this ages ago) by allowing people to be put into groups and based on which group you’re in dictates what access you have. I suppose that takes away from the voyeur aspect of social networking sites – the ability to get a sense of the person you’re looking at.

Twitter Week 2

So my experiment continues. I try to log in to my twitter account once a day at least, which is not the optimal method of using twitter I’m sure, but it’s what I can do. Usually, I do it at work, I mean I do work in e-learning services right? It’s work yeah?

Some quick observations – brilliant way to spread a website virally. In fact I can see that niche being filled nicely. It was kinda cool to be able to respond to some people who I respect and get a response back. Sort of a quick phone call or instant message (coincidentally, two other things I don’t really like doing – talking on the phone or using IM software like ICQ or AIM). Twitter seems far more interactive. Alec Couros posts his student’s work to his twitter account, I go check some of them out, comment and leave a link here. Web connections happening quite organically. No wonder marketers have jumped on board quick.

One downfall is the lack of context. Unless one posts several tweets one after the other in quick succession, then there’s not much context to draw from an individual posting. I always love the why and how, maybe that’s why I’ve always thought about the career choices I’ve made and will make. So I can see the allure of a quick posting that may not need much elaboration – sort of the thing that my RSS feed gives one is a good tweets.

I’m actually enjoying the interaction so far. We’ll see if I continue to enjoy it, or will it become cumbersome?

Twitter Week 1

OK, I decided to give twitter another go, now that I know some people that use it (and use it regularly). You can follow me @dietsociety. I did sign up for it a year or so ago – I’m not sure the initial reason why – maybe to investigate the usefulness of it (or even what it was).

I’ve found that lots of edutech people use twitter – I’m getting the sense that it’s as a microblog type deal. It’s also being used by a lot of businesses that I frequent for records or Japanese ephemera or marketing that seems to update their brand, I mean, product lists with new products. I’ll keep it up for a month or two – tweeting about what I’m doing at work mostly, and see how I feel about it. It certainly seems to be a little more useful than a year ago where I logged in and couldn’t find anyone interesting to follow (that doesn’t mean that they weren’t there, I didn’t necessarily know about them yet).