I signed up on Twitter a while ago to check it out. While I have had a few interesting chats and connected to a few people, I really wasn’t “getting it” even after viewing some demos and reading several testimonials about how great it was.

I have FINALLY figured out how powerful Twitter can be as part of building my network. If you have been following some of my recent posts on my blog, I have been struggling with ways to increase the membership on my Ning site, The HR Connection. Several people have offered great ideas that have helped. One of the suggestions was to use Twitter. I tried this once a while ago and really did not see any results. Today though, I was told that I had a new follower, and through him, I found other HR people and started following them. Not only did I find new twitter people, but I had 2 join my Ning site and found out about Terraminds to find more people with HR backgrounds that were using Twitter by going to one of my new connection’s blog, Gautam Ghosh.

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Social Networking Humour

January 31, 2008

A humourous look at Social Networking:

Demetri Martin Trendspotting – Social Networking

Enjoy!

I watched the Frontline episode of “Growing up Online” that aired on Tuesday night (you can view it here) . I thought overall that the episode was pretty good. It was a bit of doom and gloom, however, it showed a pretty realistic view of what youth are experiencing as far as the social networking tools that they use so frequently and how it is affecting SOME of them. Hopefully these were not seen as generalizations because not all teens are committing suicide, putting up questionable photos of themselves, or searching for the best way to become anorexic. There are numerous positives to the technology and our youth using them.

My interactions with these social networking tools have been very similar to how Will Richardson described his own experience: “And I think that was the major point that was driven home to me, that as much as I look at these social tools and “properties” as learning opportunities, as much as they are a part of my life, I understand them only from the viewpoint of an adult, one that came to the Internet and blogs and live streaming television with a pretty healthy sense of who I am and a well-developed and tested decision making process that made navigating these spaces fairly straightforward. ”

In saying that, these tools need to be considered from the perspective that teens are viewing them with, rather than how we might see them as adults and then plans can be made for teaching them appropriate uses.

The most disturbing part of the episode was the clip about the father of the boy who committed suicide who reached out to the friend of his son’s who also seemed to be toying with the idea of suicide and then talked to the father who did not know anything about computers and seemed unconcerned about what he was being told about his son. It would be nice for parents to know something about computers if they are equipping their children with these tools, however, at least they should be involved in their children’s lives and be able to have a discussion with them.

In Angie Balkwill’s blog about the episode, she included some key quotes that rang out for her. The one that I am quickly learning this semester through blogging, Twitter, email, Facebook… is “The Internet is always a willing listener.” How true!! Available 24/7 to anyone with a computer and an Internet connection, there is always someone you can “talk” to and it is an arena in which you will be heard – though as one of the other quotes infers, you are not always sure who it is that is listening.

A lot to consider…

The Social Web

January 21, 2008

So I had signed up on Facebook some time ago and thought that it was just fantastic! I got in touch with several people that I would have had no other way of finding because they had moved or married and changed their names or I just didn’t think to look them up. Now, I am reading all of these articles about the dangers of Facebook, such as Facebook Everywhere and The Evolution of Facebook’s Beacon.

Now I question whether I should be on Facebook and what information about me is really available to people that I don’t know? I have set my security settings so that only friends can access my profile and pictures and only include my email address in my contact information, but have I missed something? I see people all of the time that have all of their information open to anyone in Facebook, including home address and phone number. It is scary to think what kind of information children could be providing on this type of site. Children REALLY need to be taught what type of information is safe to give out and to whom. The problem is, on the web, you don’t really know who you are talking to for sure. I find the whole plethora of safety and privacy issues on the Internet very disconcerting because there are no clearcut answers at this time. There was also this blog “Professional Suicide” that opened my eyes to the problems of these tools for professionals.

In the article, “Social Networking: A New Tech Tool and a new Security Concern for Teens and Schools”, the author says “educators have long held the belief that technology is here to stay and that educating our teens to the wise use of technology makes the most sense. The successful adults of the future will be those who know how to incorporate the use of technology into all facets of their lives.” I agree that technology will definitely play some part in the success of our children’s futures, however, after several discussions with teachers, I don’t know if ALL educators see technology as here to stay and important.

I also found it surprising the author actually had his students lying about their age to sign up for online free email accounts to keep them safe from predators, but I am glad that he also recognizes that this was probably not the best way to teach students about “safe” computing. As seen in this quote, things are not always what they seem “It is ironic that what was developed as a tool for students to connect, share ideas, and be good “netizens” has evolved into a place that can be so powerfully negative and hurtful.”(Social Networking: A New Tech Tool and a new Security Concern for Teens and Schools)

This statement was profound for me: “Digital footprints exist and are real, and we must ensure that students understand that point.” I like this phrase, because we often don’t see that we are leaving a mark as we work our way through the numerous social networking tools available on the Internet today and we need to be aware of what that mark is actually saying about us. The author even mentions that future employers may view these sites as part of the hiring process – wow!

In the end, this school ended up blocking social-networking sites. The issue of how to deal with Internet use and education is a hot topic, but I agree with the author, that prohibition on these teens is probably just going to make it more enticing for them to pursue it in other arenas (i.e. at home) where they may not practice safe computing skills and then what have we really taught them? I am against banning or blocking these sites as a form of “educating” as it does not teach our children anything.

I feel very strongly about the issue of privacy and teaching safe computing skills on the Internet, however, I don’t know how this can be accomplished. I think that repitition throughout a student’s school career would help somewhat, but this is an issue that I plan to investigate further, especially since I am a new parent that will have to battle this issue in the very room that I sit in now 🙂