Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Special Twitter Message

On Monday, I made my 1000th twit, or it is tweet? Anyway, I left my 1000th entry on Twitter. I am not sure what this makes me. A very shallow person who lives life through 140 characters or less? Someone who has a lot to say about almost nothing? I guy who enjoys the weak ties to other people in a very non committed way? Maybe I am a little of all of these things, or maybe none of them. I don’t know.

I like Twitter a lot. I really feel connected to others in a way that I have never been before. My own personal world is very small. I have a great family and a great job. That is my circle. I rarely go out for any social experiences. I don't belong to any groups, and the number of real life friends I have is small. I don't think I consciously made a choice for this to happen, it is simply the way your personal reality becomes when you settle down and start a family.

Twitter has allowed me to expand my social circle in a way that I had not imagined before my first Twit. Twitter has become important to me personally and professionally. My day is not complete unless I have checked it 20- 30 times and made at least 10 good entries. So I have developed my own way of seeing the proper use of Twitter. I try to not be angry or upset a lot on Twitter. It happens, but I do try to limit it. Everyone thinks it is funny when you lose it over something stupid like not being able to make your own Mac and Cheese, but no one wants a constant barrage of negativity.

I think it is only polite that if someone follows you that you take the time to check them out and follow them back. Unless they are some front for spam, or they are mindless twitterers who post the top 100 mundane things they do each day. I like a wide variety of things and love to hear differing points of view. I don't want to hear people rant, or see the ugliness out there. I can block users that I simply don't approve of, but if for some reason, they are trying for a world record of peop to follow, I'll keep them but just not return the follow. That is my choice. I am currently following 100 people and being followed by 84. I would like the numbers to be even, but it is ok this way, I don't worry about the numbers. I think the give and take is much more important.

I like it when people share ideas, links, and cool things on the web. I like to share back when someone needs help, or maybe a laugh. This is the exchange that makes Twitter feel like a community and a conversation. This is what attracted me.

I don't like it when people preach from the mountain top. I don't want to follow people who don't think that I am good enough to hear from. I don't believe that is what the new social web is all about. If I want to be treated that way, I can just watch TV. There are plenty of people on TV who will be happy to talk down to me.

The other day one of my fellow Twitter friends shared a post from David Jakes called, Tragedy of the Commons. Mr. Jakes’ post upset me very much, but even so, I refuse to comment on his blog. I have even waited to respond for six days because it has bothered me so much. This is the part that summed up the entire post for me-

"In my opinion, Twitter really has also changed how some people interact, and not in a positive way. When did the defacto standard greeting at a conference become “Hi, I follow you on Twitter.” How about “Good Morning?” Then, “But you don’t follow me.” Gee, sorry, not my responsibility…"

I had never heard of Mr. Jakes before I read this blog entry, but the post bothers me because it seems that this man is making a living being some sort of education and technology guru. He has 921 followers on Twitter and only 78 are important enough for him to follow in return, and with the statement above, it really seems to me that he simply does not care enough to fake concern for the people who probably help to put food on his table. He comes across as an educational technology elitist. I hope that is not really the way he is because I don't think that is the type of person who should be influencing others.

If I was following him, which I am not, and never will now, I would block him. I know he wouldn't care, because I am nobody. I am unimportant in the world of instructional technology, or anywhere else really. But that's ok, my dog likes me. If he can disregard us nobody Twitterers, I can certainly return the favor. I might be throwing out lots of good stuff with the one bad thing I came across, but I will take that chance.

There are plenty of other people who can at least pay me the compliment of faking that I could be important to them. Will Richardson passed along an article that I sent him. That one small thing made me feel pretty good. Sylvia Martinez and I actually had a conversation once when she responded to my blog. I thought that was really cool. Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach is someone that I have worked with, well I should clarify, we have held the same position (computer resource specialist) in the same school division, we have talked, and she has always been nice to me. The point here is that maybe I am a nobody to these other educational technology leaders, but at least they have the manners enough to not come right out and say it.

Who knows, maybe this was just Mr. Jakes plan to drum up conversation on his blog. If so, maybe it worked in the short term. He has 60 responses to this one blog entry. Will this increase his following? Not with this one little nobody. I really don't need anyone to poke me with a stick and point out that I don’t matter. That is simply not the positive experience I am looking for in life.

Don't worry Mr. Jakes, if I ever have the opportunity to ever meet you, I will not say, "Hi, I follow you on Twitter. But you don’t follow me.”

But I will say, Good day to you, Sir!


diane said...


I like your willingness to speak up about something that is important to you.

I tried to sum up my feelings in this posting

My question for you now is: how many nobodies does it take to make a Somebody?

Nice to meet you.

diane said...

Sorry - that's


Cathy Nelson said...

Bravo, Bravo--from the target of the post.

diane said...


I may not always agree with you, but that's not a requirement for friendship.

Consider yourself followed!


Al said...

I love how we referred to the same poem! We are only nobodies to others who believe that they are more important. I think you are sombody, and I do believe that I am somebody, too. Thank you for your comments!

lindabilak said...

I was given a link to you via a mutual friend, Diane.
I have written and deleted response comments to Mr Jakes. I attended one of his Google workshops-he is not a 'meet the people and shake some hands at the end of the workshop' guy. I don't follow him at this point. There are some very gracious people who are leaders in an accessible way.
You mentioned Sylvia Martinez, I have to add Gary Stager as well. Steve Dembo(Teach42) is also very classy with his ability to follow and involve many in the conversations.
You said it much better than I.
My true thoughts are posted on Diane's "I am nobody" post.
(I coined the term digital dictator-trademark pending)Keep writing-there are more of us out here reading than you know.

Sarah Stewart said...

Hello, I cant even remember how I got to your post but I have to say that I agree with you. Luckily, it has been my experience that people are generally extremely approachable and giving both in the online and offline context. I think I put on someone else's blog who was discussing the same issue, that I would fall down in surprise and delight if someone came up and said they followed me on twitter. If only I was that famous...! :)

Anonymous said...

I'm speaking for those of us who "love it when you lose it"- Thanks for keeping us amused. To settle down and be there for your family is worth more than the busiest of social calendars. One thing Mr. Jake's totally misses is when someone says they follow you on twitter that is a huge professional compliment. He really misses the point. Hey, btw, you accidentally left me out of paragraph 11!!!!


David said...

Did you even read the post?

Ryan Bretag said...

You knock one person for the amount of people they follow and then praise others with similar or even more distorted followers/following gap.

It is quite interesting that we use the followers/following in Twitter as a way of judging a person.

Al said...

Yes, I did read your post, a few times. Was there something that I missed? You seemed pretty clear to me. And even in your 6 word response to my blog you seem to be speaking down to me.

Al said...

My interest is not in pointing out followers versus followees, I think I mentioned that the conversation is what is important to me. I will follow someone who doesn't follow me. I may not follow everyone who follows me because they are normally people with so many followers they would never notice me anyway.
I may not have said it well, but I don't think it is smart to bite the hand that feeds you. If you depend on your followers to pay your bills it really doesn't seem smart to state that you don't owe anyone anything. I disagree. You should be polite and respect other people (who can impact your future earnings).
My Twitter habits are not perfect, but I always try to be polite to everyone.
It is just my opinion. Thank you for taking the time to post to my blog!

David said...

You don't even know me, and said some very harsh things. Re-read the post-its not about bashing Twitter, its about what I perceived to be an abuse of Twitter. You jump to assumptions about my character that you have no right to, and which are incorrect. Worse yet, you seem to take pleasure (as evidenced in your Tweet history) that you enjoyed having people comment about the post. Did YOU write the post to attract people to your blog? Sorry, but a really poor job and completely illustrative why we have to teach kids how to blog with purpose, and in the correct way. Thanks for the example...

Anonymous said...

If it wasn't for David Jakes I wouldn't be on Twitter, I wouldn't have a blog and I'd still be clueless as to the difference between a blog and a wiki. I was fortunate enough to spend a day in his workshop at NYSCATE last November. It was a day that really changed how I learn and how I use the web.

Before that class I used to "hang out" on a web site something like, not even sure of it anymore. But I would always leave the site because of the pettiness and bickering that always seemed to develop over some post. The one thing I was really enjoying about blogs and Twitter was the absence of this pettiness. But I think it has finally reared its ugly head with David's post. He was expressing his opinion which we all have the right to do, but in my opinion Twitter and blogs have spread it like wildfire and made much to a big deal out of it.

Does he follow me on Twitter-no, has he ever read my blog-not that I know of or commented on my blog-no. Do I care-no. I do this for me. If he is presenting at NECC would I go to another one of his workshops-yes! He provides excellent resources online for free. He is very knowledgeable and articulate and just because we're never going to be "friends" in this social network or anywhere else doesn't mean I can't learn from him.

Well, two posts and two rants in one night! Maybe this comment challenge wasn't such a good thing, I'm not usually a ranter. :-)

sylvia martinez said...

Hey, thanks for the shoutout on your post. I try to be nice. My mom was from Minnesota so it's mandatory, like jello molded salads.

I have to say I liked David Jakes post. I have a fondness for people who say what they think, even when it's uncomfortable. I find it refreshing that he points out what bothers him instead of being coy.

Twitter isn't the moon and the stars. It's a cute little tool that lets you meet and chat with people. Let's not pretend that's going to change the world. It's annoying when people try to make every little thing into an edu-miracle or a social revolution.

I like Twitter. That's the extent of my profound thoughts on the subject.

Anonymous said...

I hope elementarytechteacher remembers to go up to David at NECC and say "Hi, I follow you on twitter!"

Al said...

You are right, I don't know you. I am sorry if I hurt your feelings. I only used your own words and how they made me feel.
No, I am not looking for blog promotion. I am a computer teacher and get no earnings from outside of my career. Twitter is a part of my social circle and I share the good and bad things that happen to me in that medium. When I shared that I got a comment it was because, I was overjoyed to have someone say something on my blog. If you check my history you will see how infrequently comments are posted to my blog.
Twitter is not even the issue. It is the way you think about people who follow you and that you would put in writing what you think.
I am sorry you don't like my blog. You have yours and can say what you wish, and I can do the same with mine. This what you should share with kids, "You too have a voice! Don't be afraid to let it out." Even if someone else does not like what you say. As long as you respect each other as human beings, you can disagree and say what you want.
I wish you luck with all of your future pursuits.

Al said...

I will follow you! And if we ever happen to be somewhere at the same time I will run up to you and say "I follow you!" I am not famous, and never will be, but if that is ok with you, I am abdoss in twitter.

LuxfordCRS said...

Very interesting comments all around. I know Al relatively well, though I would hesitate to call him a friend (would likely be proud to have him as one-AL: that get me to a 'skins game? JK, hen is colleague who I see regularly. He is an extremely thoughtful, forward thinking educator. I think this has been a superb exercise in communication and the power of blogging. While I believe Al was little harsh and without knowing David a little unfair, David's post certainly could be understood to be close to what Al posted.

This is something worthwhile to be fleshed out more; I hope both will dialogue and I hope additional comments will come appropriate tones.

BTW-this is the first blog that has captured much interest from me.

Al said...

That was a rant? It seemed very nice to me. It is nice to her from everyone. I really had no idea that I could ever write anything that would have so many people want to say something back. I am glad to have someone say something nice about Mr. Jakes.
I know that sounds strange, but I do mean that. I think I hurt his feelings, judging by his last comment, and I feel badly about that, but I will stick to what I wrote in my blog.
No one could be all bad who shares good tools with others. I just think it is important to treat people nicely.
Thanks for your comment!

Al said...

You too have always been kind to me, and you are one of the most important educational technology professionals I know. Please, do not take my oversight personally. I will make a post in the near future devoted entirely to you. Go, Shera!

Anonymous said...


You totally miss the point of Dave's post, in my opinion.

And I think the following quote from your comment is hilariously ironic for several reasons:

"This what you should share with kids, "You too have a voice! Don't be afraid to let it out." Even if someone else does not like what you say."

1. That is EXACTLY what Dave tells kids. (

2. That is EXACTLY why he is free to express his opinion on his blog--he practicies what he preaches. But he didn't make it personal.

3. And that is EXACTLY why instead of bashing him on your blog it might have been better for you to have expressed your difference of opinion in a professional manner without taking personal potshots.

By the way...I am also a nobody...just attended one of Dave's sessions at a conference a couple of years ago, was impressed with what he had to share, and invited him to present for the teachers in my region.

He is one of the most down to earth people I've ever met. But you wouldn't learn that from one blog post.

Henry Thiele said...

I am going to come to David's defense here - not that he needs any.

I think you didn't quite get what David was pointing out.

It seems like some people have replaced their real life with a virtualization of their second life.

All he asked for was to be greeted with a simple hello and a professional conversation - instead of @djakes I follow you on twitter.

I would like to believe that we are all professionals here that would like face to face contact over 140 characters. He didn't call nobody a nobody. He didn't say "don't talk to me".

I felt he implied that we should go back to greeting people as people and not as avatars.


Al said...

Thank you for commenting again on my blog. I like Twitter, too. But it is just a tool that means nothing without the people who use it.
I appreciate everyone's opinions, even when they are different from my own, but I don't have to support it. I just can't support someone who seems to feel above other people. That is all I was saying...

Thanks again!

Al said...

You can always say you are my friend. I will never disagree with you. If I get the tickets this year, you are on the list!
I may have not have made my comments as neutral as I should have, but I did tone it down quite a bit before responding.
Thanks for commenting!

David said...

There is nothing in my post to suggest that I feel superior to anyone. Do you draw that conclusion from my statement about the twitter greeting at conferences, which is very strange? Or, probably lost on you, how do you feel about making inappropriate statements online about people you don't know, and taking the argument personal without anything but conjecture on your part, then gloating about it in your tweets:

abdoss: "I am thrilled I got people respnding to my blog about @DJakes. The little things make me happy!"

Wow, just wow.

Enjoy your two minutes of fame.

Youssef Elias said...

First of all don't jump to conclusions about anybody based upon a blog post.

I had the pleasure to meet, and talk to David Jakes at CUE 2008 in Palm Springs. The man has some really good and valuable things to say about the state of education. He has a "real job" and works with real teachers and students on a daily basis.

David Jakes is Da Man.

I suggest you go RE-READ his post, and most of all "take it easy, it's just Twitter, not a cure for cancer"

Go Bears, Go Ditka

Anonymous said...

Wow. Seriously? Not following people who follow you is elitist? I'm a nobody (111 followers) and I only follow 41. *sniff, Jakes doesn't follow me either. *sniff. But there is no way I could get what I wanted out of following 1000 random tweeters.

I try to select those that make my network of knowledge useful. I don't know how people find me or even if the peeps are human and not some spam entity. I barely keep up with the people a personally know.

I do find it humorous that some twitters find their props by how many people follow them or how many tweets they've posted. For me, it's a professional cheat that I use to make me more knowledgeable.

I also find it very humorous that you got all bunched up over his post. Really? Jakes has some good things to say, but he's not the Second Coming. Ease up and enjoy life. It's too short and I think you may just be missing the bigger picture.

Technology can support education and educators. We can learn from each other if we hear each other. Twitter, blogging, wikis, etc can be great tools for education. Unfortunately, they also become tools for self-promotion and distraction.

The center of the bulls-eye is Damon, a 10 year old ESL kid who is having great difficulty learning to read. He and many others are the point. Grab what gems you can from other teacher whom you respect and give them away to the kids you support. As a community, we need to remove tech from the center and put kids back in there.

humbly shared,
(yes, you can follow me. ;)

LuxfordCRS said...


I know Al and agree he may have been a little uneven in his comments, but he has, as you has some valid points. I understand your displeasure w/ his comments, but I am disappointed that you have continued the dialogue in the current tone. Please continue, but consider what your goal is and the possible adverse effect of the tone of the posts.
BTW: I am glad to hear the positive posts concerning your impact on educational technology...also, i don't follow you on twitter (JK)

@jlwagner said...

Al --

I don't know you -- but I don't think you would want me to judge you completely on ONE BLOG POST you had written? Would you?

I am getting to know, David, and I think you took a bit of liberty when you encapsulated his character based on one post that he has written.

I would urge you to take the time to read his other posts and get to know the man a bit better.

David, at times, is a tough nut to crack -- but well worth looking beneath the surface.

Kate Olson said...

As I just wrote my own post about this matter, I won't bore you with my ranting and raving, but I would like to point out the tone of the comments here.

As an educator determined to help students learn digital citizenship and appropriate online behavior, I think that the heated interaction should be done in a less public forum. I hate to be elementary about this, but seriously, if you wouldn't have this discussion face-to-face or on the phone, or at LEAST via personal email, it's probably best not to let it play out here. Blog comments can get extremely heated and as we all know, tone isn't always conveyed appropriately in text. So, while everyone else is simply weighing in, David and Al - you guys should do the grown-up thing and discuss this one-on-one, maybe something could actually be resolved!

I've had situations occur like this on my blog, and most of the time, when someone has personal issues with something I've said, we take it to email or even IM to try to come to a deeper understanding. Some people that I've connected with in this way are some of the deepest thinkers I know. Isn't that what this is about? Learning from the community?

As you can see from my comments on David's post, I too disagreed with what he was saying, and I think his reactions here and there are deteriorating to self-defense.

Al, I commend you for writing your post and standing up for your beliefs.

David, the fact that someone disagrees with you is not an excuse for interacting in this way.

Let's act like adults, no?

Anonymous said...

The way you perceived the original Twitter post was very much the way I interpreted it. While Mr. Jakes may not have intended to insult or put down his Twitter followers, I fear that may have been the unfortunate outcome for many.

Mr. Jakes,
On the issue of followers and following, I think a bit more sensitivity is needed. Many of your followers are people who read your blog, attend your workshops, and support your projects. They are partly the reason you give keynote addresses and are invited to speak at venues around the country. Like you, they have a need to be heard, valued, respected, and a part of something important. The noise to signal ratio must be tremendous when one follows hundreds of people so I understand that it isn't feasible to follow so many in return. However, when you get a notice from Twitter that Mr. or Mrs. Teacher is following you, why not send them a quick note? Just a simple word of thanks to acknowledge them. Wouldn't you acknowledge people who came to your presentation? People who follow you on Twitter are, in a way, coming to your presentation as well.

I also need to point out that you made your post personal when you linked to Cathy Jo from it. She was cited as an example of someone who responded to a Twitter incident (unfollowing) in a way you deemed inappropriate. Had you kept the focus on the tool and its uses rather than suggesting people in the Twittersphere are mishandling it, the conversation would not have gone in the direction it has. Judgemental posts will always stir emotions in a negative way.

You are going great work with Google Earth and Digital Storytelling. I think Twitter has diverted your attention from what is important as you suggested it has for others. Forget about Twitter and return to the things that matter most.

Tim said...

@abdoss I do follow you on Twitter (and I believe you follow me). I have added to the comments at David's blog, which I would not have read if it had not been for your post. His responses are up over 90 now, by the way. :)

All I can say here is that I understand David's frustration, and I also understand that his frustration is not my own. I would encourage you to find out who this man is and what he has to offer before you "throw the baby out with the bathwater." Calm down, man! :)

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