Just like starting over

A couple of songs appropriately describe my current feelings about opening my Mastodon account.

Probably a better way to explain it would be there are different things on. I checked out the #Education hashtag which would best describe my interests and found little there to interest me and certainly nothing about Ontario Education. That’s not the worst of things; we could always change that if we get the right people there.

My Twitter account has been around since 2007 and I’ve followed some of the greatest educators in the world – Ontario Educators – but not in my timeline. They’re all stored in 10 Twitter lists. It’s where I head on Thursdays to create #FollowFriday posts. Twitter has always been my serious side and is where I go to learn about education and monitor trends.

My other big social media account would be on Facebook where I follow educators but also interesting people and, while I do look for the good educational stuff, I’m also looking for some entertainment. Facebook certainly provides that. Just yesterday, I read a very impassioned post from a friend of mine who indicated on Facebook that he was shutting down his Twitter account. I often wonder about that. Does that make your userid available to someone who wants to claim it and perhaps impersonate you? My inclination would be to go to Twitter and download all my content (it takes a while so be prepared) and then delete my content and leave one message with a forwarding address. That way, it’s still there and not available for anyone else to snag.

The real dilemma for me is moving what I’ve spent so much time cultivating to somewhere else and not losing value. I can’t help but think that this is absolutely impossible. So, maybe it’s time to do another bit of thinking about any potential move.

John Lennon said it …

Right now, on Mastodon, I feel like it’s 2007 all over again. I know that the magic can happen but it doesn’t magically happen. It comes as a result of hard work and effort. How can I make that happen for me? I need a vision; at present, I don’t have a realistic one.

I’d be interested in your thoughts about potential moves. What are your plans?


A new Twitter in the works?

You can’t get by without reading or seeing reports from Twitter as Elon Musk takes over.

When I first saw the video, I thought that he was bringing his favourite monitor to his new office. Then, I watched the rest of the video and I didn’t get it. But that’s OK; I suspect that there will be a lot of things that I don’t get coming up in the next while.

These days, I’m finding Twitter less and less useful for my purposes. I’m not alone.

Exclusive: Twitter is losing its most active users, internal documents show

I was going to take a guess but Twitter has it on record so I just looked at my join date.

I know exactly where I was when I joined. I was in a workshop led by Will Richardson who was talking about the importance of connections and statements like “together we’re smarter” had me convinced. I bought into the concept and joined immediately. It required a lot of work to make it happen and be of real value but, in the end, it was the best professional learning that I’d ever done for myself.

I haven’t regretted doing so but, like the author above, I’ve noticed that it’s less helpful these days.

Back in the day, we would have

  • hashtags for everything
  • Tweetups at conferences
  • FollowFridays
  • Pictures of food (OK, it wasn’t always professional)
  • Twitter lists and sharing of those lists
  • and probably a lot more if I continue to reminisce

Things are certainly different these days. I still maintain the FollowFriday thing and people seem to appreciate the connections. I think anyway. I still get pumped when it generates a new follower and the first thing I check is whether or not they have a blog and are from Ontario because I love to follow them.

It’s always been worth it to me. I truly do love to read blog posts, particularly about education. I find them to be truer and more authentic that news releases or articles written because some reporter has a deadline to meet. But most of all, I’m impressed when someone’s writing teaches me something new or leads me to find out more about things.

These days, I’m seeing more dead or dying Twitter accounts and abandoned Blogs than ever.

I don’t think that it’s necessarily that people have abandoned platforms but I get the sense that people are more scrollers on social media than in the past. In the past, there was value and worth by creating something or being supportive by sharing the works of someone else. It was a Personal Learning Network at its best.

Now, my timelines seems to be full of Wordle results or memes retweeted from somewhere else.

Musk claims that he wants to take us back to the concept of the town square where people gather to chat. Earlier in the summer, we walked the “Square” in Goderich (it really isn’t a square) on a Saturday and Sunday morning when the markets were set up. People had their own tables and were so welcoming to talk about what they were selling and some even recommended a fellow vendor when we asked for something they didn’t have. It was exhilarating to take do it.

There really was a sense of wanting to help each other out. It reminds me of the good old days of Twitter.

Can Musk take us back to that?

Hoping to get better

My apologies in advance to English and Language teachers. I hated your class in school! I did well enough, I guess, I took three Mathematics, three Science, and an English kicker in Grade 13. Yes, I know, I’m old. I wasn’t interested in English but it was a fallback in case I stumbled in any of the other classes.

I was the kid, when you assigned a writing assignment like an essay, whose hand immediately shot up “How long does it have to be?” If you said “three pages”, you’d get three pages and not one word more. I ended up typing my essays because I learned that you could move the left and right margins in just a bit so that there were less words and yet it still looked the same.

I had no intention of being an author so I couldn’t see a great deal of value in it. It was an attitude that lasted until my first year at university in a computer science class of about 100 students when we were told that only 30% of us would become professional programmers. The rest wouldn’t be written off; there are all kinds of jobs in the computer industry other than programming and being able to write would help if we got a job writing manuals or documentation. Hmmm, or become a teacher?

I took those words to heart and started to get very serious about writing to support my love of mathematics or programming where I could. As a teacher, I ensured that there were marks for documenting computer solutions in addition to being able to code that solution.

And, I started to blog. It was intermittent and experimental on a number of platforms until I got to this place. For the longest time now, I do follow the advice of Mrs. Ball and write something everyday, even if it’s not graded. So, here we are today.

I’m a sucker I guess for online tutorials but I like to think that they and a daily writing habit have made me a better writer. I actually use some of the strategies that I was taught years ago but never really took seriously. I’ll never be a great writer like my friend David Garlick but I hope that I get better with my habits.

Speaking of David, a Twitter message went flying by on my timeline last night that caught my eye. He had retweeted this.

I actually knew that! The Cookie Monster reference would have come after my time but we talked about this somewhere a long time ago. Now, I already follow David but I decided to follow Mr. Gallagher as well.

And then, “Wait! Grammarly has a blog?”

Indeed it does! It more than that annoying English teacher that looks over my shoulder pointing out every little mistake that I make. I know, things do get through but I look forward to reading the blog posts and get better.

I could throw in that typical teacher comment about being lifelong … but I’ll resist. I’m looking forward to getting better at this little hobby.

Once again, it shows the value of following smart people like David. They can lead you to ever smarter and more useful learning. And that’s why I do it.

Unwanted followers

I can remember a time when you joined Twitter and you were just so happy when someone followed you. You read about these people with millions of followers (usually from them) and wonder what you’re doing wrong!

Whenever I do get a new follower, I check them out. If they’re an Ontario Educator, I’ll add them to one of my lists, if there’s something they’re an expert in then I’ll add them to one of my specialized lists, and sometimes I’ll just follow them back. I’m finding that to be more of a challenge when the numbers get so high – how do you manage with millions?

Recently, there has been a strange new breed of follower. When I check their profile, the image often doesn’t make any sense (or even worse it makes bad sense) or they have no profile description or the account is private or they have no followers themselves. I can only conclude they have nothing to contribute to anyone. And, the one that is most frustrating and telling is that they have no location listed.

Normally, I wouldn’t put much thought into that but the speed with which I’m getting these accounts following me leads me to believe that perhaps there’s a bot somewhere who latched onto me and is creating and following for who knows what reason. It’s just kind of freaky.

When it’s one account every now and again, it’s not a big deal. When it’s happening daily, I’ve got to figure that there’s something up. I know that you can block these accounts but what if they are legitimate and just dipping their toes into Twitter to see what it’s all about. I was like that. Only when I saw the real value did I start to contribute more. (better is in the eye of the beholder).

So, I take a slightly different approach.

I’ll head off to their profile and click the “more” button (the three dots).

Instead of the hard “block” or “report”, I’ll select “Remove this follower”.

My logic is a little more forgiving than the harder actions. I figure that if I remove them and they really want to follow me, they’ll try again. I’m not above admitting when I’ve made an error in judgement.

Having said this, I haven’t had the opportunity to do this more than a couple of times. It reinforces my original thought that there’s a bot somewhere doing the deed.

How do you handle potentially unwanted followers?

I’m staying

The world all over was talking about Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter yesterday. Some are looking for some immediate action.

A picture from a long time ago that he wants removed. A lesson here is that anything that goes on social media never goes away.

Maybe the new Twitter, whatever that will be, could hire Peter to write something in Colab that would implement this. The lesson here is that you should proofread before you send anything. (I’m as guilty as anyone for this) And, as the best advice ever from a long time ago was, “Don’t post anything online you wouldn’t want your mother to see.”

In fact, there are lots of lessons and learning to be had by using Twitter. According to my profile, I’ve been a member since 2007. I remember why I joined; I was in a workshop with Will Richardson who was leading a session and he talked about how many smart people were connected, providing the opportunity to learn something new every day. All you had to do was follow the right people. Another message that he had that remains with me to this day is that you should provide something back so that others can learn. It’s Win, Win.

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

And so, to whatever ability that I have, I try to do so by sharing my reading, my learnings, and my contributions to this blog. It’s been so good for me and I like to think that I follow the best of the best. I’ve never had a concern for freedom of speech and I do have connections all over the place. Some I agree with; others I don’t but it’s never been a deal breaker.

Not so with others. There have been some amusing hashtags to follow.


and my favourite, #TwitterinCanada where a number of people outside our nation were schooled on social media and that Twitter is actually available in Canada, no matter who owns it. So, moving to Canada doesn’t let you escape Twitter. Pro Tip: Turning off you devices will.

For me though, it remains my goto place for well connected and smart people. It’s the only place where I announce my blog posts and I am so appreciative of Ontario Educators who take the time to write and share their own ideas. It’s the one forum that they have to reach out to others and are as credible with their thoughts about education and their reality as anyone.

I don’t go to Twitter for political information although I like a good meme as much as anyone else. I prefer to go right to the source and read the writing and listen to the voices of credible news researchers.

While there are all kinds of people threatening to leave Twitter (remember, talk is cheap), I’m not going to be one of them. As long as it makes the connections and learning that I so value, I’m here for the long run.

How about you?