Nevolution = Evolution through networking

Star Trek

Borg - Are we evolving into them?

Since listening to a keynote by Grainne Conole recently at MoodleMOOT I’ve been thinking about the concept of people and technology co-evolving. It’s not that profound a concept really and links to a previous post about the “hidden influence of social networks” we adapt to technology probably more profoundly that the technology adapts to us.

In the case of Twitter this is becoming somewhat of a concern to me because I’m starting to become the type of person who will try to make his posts witty and engaging (perish the thought), this leads to a tendency to exaggerate or enhance. You have this kind of hyper-reality dynamic played out in Twitter where there are the seedlings of truth but couched in the attention grabbing advertising blurb that gets them noticed, you then run the risk of becoming obsessed by ego rather than the topic. It’s not true of all interactions of course, and there is a lot of very good factual information provided without hype, but I’ve been on twitter now for a number of years and it’s only recently that I’ve started noticing the ego-centricity of Twitter.

I think blogging is similarly an egocentric method of communicating and I remember when Martin Weller first encouraged me to blog many years back I was concerned at the time about it being all a bit of an ego massaging exercise. Perhaps that is one of the reasons that when I started my blog I tried deliberately to blog about things that I’d refer back to and find useful for me and my work so treated it like a diary and reminder. A “To-Do” of research ideas. I did originally intend to blog about all things but technology is the predominate subject within many of my posts and perhaps it because my “other life” is one I’m still not comfortable in sticking into blog posts because that does seem rather egotistical. I do occasionally do put family stuff up on Facebook.

So that leads me to another evolutionary trend which is that I’ve noticed now that I’m CATEGORISING my online persona and using different media to reflect different parts of myself and to interact in different ways with different groupings of people. In Facebook the club of followers is quite narrow and when people are flagged to me as “mutual friends” that perhaps I should friend, I don’t tend to do that unless I have a close connection with them in the real world.

So Facebook is, for me, only a group of real friends and close colleagues, and where I feel safe to share personal information.

Twitter on the other hand is more like a pub where I have some close friends that I’m out with and where there are various other interesting people who I know or ‘follow’, some of which are celebs and where listening to them is amusing. The pub persona also means that I do a bit of boasting and bragging and ‘hyper-reality’ is the norm.

Blogging for me is that part of me that wants to remember things which I find useful and may also be useful to others, so my use of blogging is a kind of therapeutic method for me to relieve myself of some thought that I’ve been struggling to articulate. It is like revision classes where I’m repeating stuff that I may have mentioned in class (in a tweet or on Facebook) and trying to explain it, mainly to myself, so that I can work out if it’s got any validity.

This persona building is happening constantly and it’s evolving over time. I also have my “linkedIn” and my “” and various other elements of myself expressed online.

How much though is the media I’m engaging in changing me? …am I becoming ‘hyper-real’?

Twitters or Twits?

Martin Weller has been writing a lot about twitter recently, in fact almost to the point of fanaticism! (don’t take this the wrong way Martin). I have been trying to be a good twitterer (?) but I find it difficult to manage to both do stuff and inform others about it. I even find it difficult to twitter at conferences as I get so engrossed in them that I forget to write stuff down! – I think it’s a me thing but I would put some points to Martin in respect of recent Twitter postings

1. The case of those poor students that were involved in the lockdown. I can understand them wanting to keep in touch and it’s great that twitter helped. I obviously haven’t been involved in such things before although I did grow up in Belfast during the “troubles” and we did get regularly awoken on a Saturday night by a bomb blast, sometimes the windows would rattle or the building would shake. Not perhaps as immediately scary as a gunman in the building but still bad at the time. I dealt with it by finding another human and giving them a hug. I think electronic devices only go so far in the comforting area. I also think that before twitter people could still text or indeed phone each other for support (although there may be a point here about alerting a gunman to your presence!) – What happens if the gunman is using twitter to see what they’re up to and where they are?

2. A senior OU colleague (senior in responsibility not years!) yesterday told me how he was at the “Making Connections” conference at the OU. He was at the back taking notes (twittering) and listening to the talks. He went to the talk before Martins and started taking notes, half way through the talk it became so boring that he decided to stop taking notes and ‘twittered’ to say that the speaker was so boring and the talk was so dull that he was giving up (or words to that effect). Low and behold Martin came on as the next speaker and what he did was show a mashup of OU twitter feeds from the conference and to my colleagues embarrassment his twitter post was up in two foot high lettering on the stage for all to see! (be careful what you write)

3. My team are making a site about Bio Diversity (see previous postings) and one thing that’s cropped up as an issue for people involved in similar projects is that when a new plant or animal species is found (particularly rare plants in specific locations) once the details are published people are going to that spot and digging up the plants and taking them back to their gardens. This poses a serious problem as it may be wiping out some rare species and when the plant life goes the animal life sometimes follows too. I’ve heard reports of this type of “theft” happening a lot recently.

So in summary I can see some really good reasons to twitter not least of which is that I know why people haven’t turned up for meetings or what useful tools they’re playing with. The downside is that I’m really quite rubbish at it and I haven’t found the killer reason why I should twitter. I store my tweets up to become blogs. Sometimes I store blogs up to become reports but mostly I store everything up to bore my partner over a drink at the weekend!

Finally Martin I think you need to go to TA (Twitters Anonymous) as I think it’s becoming an addiction!