Adaptability replacing knowledge as power?

Funny how it is that the more you know, the more you know how little you know? Such is the curse of an always-connected, instant-search world where every question can be googled. But are we finding that human brains can cope with such a potential flood of email, RSS, twitter, facebook etc messages beamed at us in real-time? As empowering as it is (and believe me it is!), this amount of data may be bringing a new survival skill to the forefront – adaptability.

This is my conclusion after reading this article from the ad-heavy but still excellent MasterNewMedia site. In the article, Jay Cross posits that due to the effect of events like 911 and the ever-increasing pace of technological innovation, the ability to be flexible and adaptable may be more important now than just being able to access large chunks of knowledge. 

As always, a middle path will perhaps prove best – ie. those who adapted to the introduction of micro-blogging services like twitter in the early stages have now built extremely powerful knowledge networks.

More great tips for Educators starting with Twitter

I’ve recently had the privelege of corresponding with several educators more experienced than I regarding micro-blogging service twitter (that has now become so much more!). There are a few things that it takes one a while to work out about twitter – but via the Oz-teachers discussion list Chris Betcher has posted this great great foreward (with links) to embarking on the ubiquitous network journey that is Twitter. Enjoy:

“I can understand the sceptics…  I was one for a long time.  I’ve also been getting incredible personal and professional value out of Twitter for quite a while now… So here’s a few thoughts that will help you get your head around it…

The first advice is this…
Don’t even think about evaluating the worth of Twitter until you are “following” at least 40-50 people.  Twitter works because it invites diversity and traffic.  If you only follow a few people, you’ll get neither and hence won’t really be able to judge whether it has any value for you or not.  So find someone you think is worth following, look at who they follow, add some people from their follow list and so on.  Don’t stop until you are following at least 40-50 people.  Yes, this will generate traffic.  Yes you will not be able to take it all in (well, maybe at 40 you still can, but not much beyond that)   That’s ok…  you don’t need to read every tweet.  As you add people to your follow list, you gradually get to a point where the messages flow by you much faster than you can deal with.  That’s ok too… it’s a smorgasbord, you don’t need to eat everything!  But seriously, if you try to “manage” Twitter by only following a few people you will never see the worth of it.  Trust me on this.

Second bit of advice…
Choose who you follow carefully…  take a look at their bio, see what they do. I tend to avoid the “web entrepreneurs”, “marketing gurus”, “social media analysts” and so on…  they tend to waffle about things I’m  not interested in.  I usually look for people who are educators, although I do add the occasional non-educator in order to keep some degree of diversity in the feed.  Too many people with all the same outlook on things tends to create an echo chamber where there is no diverse opinions or ideas.  So it’s good to have a few “ring ins”, just to mix things up a bit.  Once you find someone to follow, look at the type and frequency of messages…  you probably don’t want to follow someone who constantly tell you what they just had for breakfast or that they are getting their hair done, and you probably don’t want to follow someone who tweets every 3 minutes.  However, again, a little bit of diversity can be a good thing, and you’d be surprised at how often these seemingly trivial messages can help you, and to help put a human side to these people you follow.  You decide what works for you…

Third bit of advice…
Remember that your tweets go to everyone who follows you, and that they become part of the public record.  I wouldn’t, for example, tweet about my bad day and how much I hate my job.  I wouldn’t whine too much, swear too much, or do things that would generally have a negative impact on my “digital footprint”.  It also means that if you have followers from different parts of your life, they will all get the same tweets…  so your family (if they follow you) will read your tweets about education, and your educator colleagues will get to read your tweets about that family bbq last weekend.  This is not a problem, but you do need to think about how you structure your online social world.  
Learn to use the @ reply system and to send d direct messages to people.  Take some time to work out the Twitter culture… like all online communities, it most certainly has one.  And if you find a conversation starting to evolve in Twitter between yourself and someone else, and you are realising that it probably isn’t of real interest to the general Twitter community, take it to another forum to keep it going…  Skype is great for this.

Last bit of advice…
Get a Twitter client!  If you need to go back to the Twitter homepage all the time to check what’s happening, you will quickly lose interest.  So pick a good client Twitter app that will run in the background.  I used to like Twitterific, but Twhirl is my current  favourite. Tweetdeck is pretty good too, though probably better once you get the hang of Twitter. There are plenty of Twitter tools for mobile devices too, like Twinkle, Tweetie and Twibble.  Trying to take Twitter seriously without one of these tools is just making life hard for yourself.  Get one.

Finally, remember that Twitter is about “small pieces loosely joined”, which is really how the world works in real life.  In real life, it is the tiny, seemingly insignificant social connections that so often direct our lives in some surprisingly major ways.  Some of you have jobs that you work in because your mother’s friend’s daughter knew a guy who’s dentist sent her son to a school that was thinking about employing an extra teacher, and because of these loosely joined social connection, you ended up with a job.  Perhaps you met your husband because you went for a drink with a friend one night and bumped into a person who knew someone you went to school with and his best mate had a brother that you were introduced to and eventually married. Isn’t this really how life works?  You know it is!  Think about your life, and identify all the little serendipitous things that happened to you because you just happened to be in the right place at the right time, talking to the right person.  The more connections you make, the more likelihood you have of these “small pieces loosely joined” actually leading you into things that you never knew you wanted and that you never, ever could have predicted.  That’s what Twitter does.

Still a sceptic?  Trust me and just try it.  Not by following three people and never looking at it again, but by REALLY trying it, with lots of people in your network, and for at least 6 months.  Then meet me back here in 6 months and tell me some of the amazing stories that happened to you because of Twitter.


PS: for what it’s worth, here are a couple of blog posts I’ve written about Twitter that may give you some food for thought…

Education and the Twitterverse


Twitter, twitter, twitter. Like the chattering that its name implies, micro-blogging turned mass communication tool Twitter now seems to be heard everywhere. So overwhelming has it been that while I joined some time ago, I’ve got serious in the last month and now consider it the fourth leg of my personal learning network after Google Reader, Facebook, and Email discussion lists. In one day I came across a three great articles blogged by others, a wiki, and even a story in my Brisbane paper (a sure sign that its now going mainstream if they know about it). So For all my friends and fellow Educators who are still asking what is Twitter and why does it matter, have a look at these:

Overview and introduction from the NY Times: Twittering Tips for Beginners

Wiki just for teachers using twitter: twitter4teachers

Twitter as a community of practice for eduators: MICROBLOGGING EXPLORED

And ‘follow’ me at Read you there.


Posted via email from Jonathan’s posterous