12 years – and still going (just!)

So, 12 years, (and a few days) ago, I wrote my first post on here. Originally, it wasn’t here, but on Blogspot; I’ve moved it a few times, and at times it’s been more active than others. Skimming through the archives, I was particularly active in November 2007 , but there are too many months that have 0.
Over the years since I started this, I’ve also been more (or less at times!) active on Twitter – almost 13.8k posts since (bizarrely!) November 2007 . Then, later, Google+; particularly when we had it via Google Apps at Portsmouth, and I’d moved my students from blogging to using Social Media for the community development part of their coursework.

When I first moved to Dundee, I thought I’d start to blog more regularly – a new job seemed like a really good opportunity, to reflect on the changes in my role, new things I was learning, etc. I started out so well. I have many ideas about what I could blog about, and as we’re starting a team blog, perhaps writing for that will help to rekindle the enthusiasm I have for this. I don’t want it to die; it’s a valuable record, both of my views and interests – as well as the changes around me.

Blogging, and other tools generally…

I’ve started looking through various bookmarked pages; an interesting co-incidence that when I thought I’d try to look at a range of aspects of Blogging in HE, I found that WordPress now offers the ability to use an online creator at WordPress.com to write for a self hosted blog. Not sure I’d bother in the future, but useful to test it now!

So, blogging. Where do I start? Well, where did I start? August 2004; that was just before we started teaching a unit that was going to require students to blog, so I thought I’d better have a go myself. I wasn’t entirely sure, as I’ve never been a great writer, but I got going. Over the years my blogging has waxed and waned, I’ve taken to twitter , then as we started to move students at Portsmouth into Google Apps for Education, so Google+  seemed more relevant. (This is a general one, I lost the Portsmouth one when I left). There were other tools in between times, many of which stopped offering freely hosted services (anyone else used to use Elgg?), or didn’t work for long enough to really get students to use them (Google Wave anyone?)

Today, there are so many different options – recently, I’ve had Known mentioned to me; what I’d not realised is that it’s developed by Ben Werdmuller – who’d co-founded Elgg (which I’d liked a lot at the time).

I’ve just read another story covering the changes in tools used – other than Facebook, I’d say I’ve tried most of those, either for myself, or with students. Some I’ve stuck to, some I’ve drifted from. When I left Portsmouth, I realised the problems with having material tied up in a particular domain. Moving this blog was easy – WordPress makes it so. Extracting all my contacts from Google Apps far less so. I created a “takeout” – but it’s not going to be easy to get it all back into my current account. I am starting to do it manually. Guess this is where it all adds up to a PLE. (Or, given that these are mostly things designed to work with others, a PLN).

[Oh, and not sure I’d bother using WordPress.com to create posts in the future, though it is a very clean looking interface]


Twitter vs. Facebook.

A chance comment by Rosie Sherry on Twitter caused me to think about the differences between the two. Her point was that it’s easier to keep up with people in Facebook – which I’d agree with, but, I see that as a benefit of having two accounts.

When I first used Facebook, I couldn’t quite see the point. I so wish I’d taken screen shots! At the time, you had to have a University email address, and were automatically a part of the University Network. There were 4 of us from University of Portsmouth. And I didn’t know the other 3. I didn’t see the point. So, I let it drift for a long time. Eventually, I decided that I needed to understand it, but primarily from a work point of view. So, I reactivated the account, started to add work colleagues, join work related groups. Then my friends / family started to find me. I realised it was much better for that! I can control who can see my updates (they’re all set to friends only, and I have a list of people who only get to see limited information [aka, nothing!]). I have to accept friends. I’m now starting to periodically remove those I just know through work, have never met etc. I’m just leaving in people I know well & socially via work, and those I see as ‘friends’ (e.g. I would invite them round to my house).

Twitter also took me time to see the potential; yes, it’s much harder to have a conversation; it’s do-able, but there are countless (well, quite a lot, I suspect I can count that far in the case of my readership) readers, it’s a dip-in/dip-out medium. There are some advantages – you get to see the most recent updates, unlike Facebook, which has a can have a habit of deciding what it thinks is important, it’s quick. But, for really having indepth conversations, it’s limited, unless you’re blessed with brevity. Which I’m not.

I feel I need them both.


RWW reports that Tweetdeck has allegedly been bought by Twitter. Nothing has been confirmed yet – but if so, then RWW’s feeling that it’s likely that support for other networks will remain is probably true. (Not that I’ve ever actually used Tweetdeck for anything other than a single twitter a/c; but it’s nice to know I could, if I wanted)
Perhaps my student’s creation of Chattercrab might manage to fill the gap!

Uni's Closed – but how did you know.

Following a post from Brian Kelly, I started thinking about how University of Portsmouth let students/staff know that it was closed today.
We had a number of sources:

I guess some will also have had the news second hand in some way; e.g. re-tweets, via friends in Facebook, via Victory if staff put information up there etc.,
What I’m not sure about is which route staff/students actually used. I’ve asked on twitter – so far everyone who is on Twitter used it – and also one other staff member via email – which is how she found out. (And how many haven’t investigated, so have a cold walk in)
Unlike Bath, we don’t have text messaging options – which would be useful today I think, as not all staff/students have access to the Internet at home.

ALT-C 2009

One of the issues that cropped up at ALT-C was “blog or twitter”. There’s an ongoing debate re. whether or not Twitter is killing blogging. I’m guilty of that – very much so! Just look at the twitter stats– and my frequency of recent postings on here.
This started off really as a small discussion at F-ALT, (which I actually missed, due to my poor map reading & the rain) – and has since continued, both in the blogosphere & elsewhere. As with other posters on the Cloudworks site, I’ve found I’m still *thinking* about & planning blog posts; just not quite getting round to doing them.

I’ll leave that aside, as it’s something I know that I want to sort out in my own mind – ALT-C has just brought it to the forefront!

Unfortunately I missed the last Keynote Speaker (Terry Anderson), as I got the impression from the twitter stream that it was the most interesting. That said, I did find Michael Wesch’s personally interesting, due to his references to Papua New Guinea. He saw a different side of it to me – though with the range of different cultures there, it’s hardly surprising! The way he spoke, though, implied that he was treating all students as a “they” – though his comments afterwards suggested that he’d not intended that to be the slant.
I also went to Martin Bean’s keynote – he’s a great speaker – I do hope for the OU’s sake that he’s able to use his insights (for that matter, I’ve heard a lot about Salford’s new twittering VC … he also seems really good!) (They are all archived)

Who's following who?

I’ve read a few posts recently in the blogosphere (such as this one by Mike Arsenault) about “twitter snobs” – and basically whether one should, or shouldn’t, automatically follow everyone who follows you.

As with so many things, some people will argue vehemently that their way is “right”; others will be more pragmatic – explaining why they’ve got the approach they have & why they realise others have different views. 

My personal view is to look (periodically) at new followers & decide on an individual basis. The most recent person to follow me, well, I’m trying to work out her strategy of following. She’s only following me & Ellen Degeneres; she’s only made 1 update & hasn’t got a profile. I don’t think I know her (she’s from Colarado for starters); however, as she said in that one update she’s looking at using Twitter with her (doctoral) students, and given that she has selected me to follow, I decided to follow her back. 

(Most people who follow me & only have 1 update are either gloating about the fact they’ve got a laptop for free [I ignore them] – or someone I’ve encouraged to have a look – & I generally know them for real. [Tend to follow them!)