Thursday, August 14, 2008

Leaving the Island

I left the island almost exactly a year ago. I was sitting in a summer conference session learning about web 2.0 tools. At the time I did what I always do, I jumped right in and began exploring. I didn't know what I would find or have any idea that a trip was in my future, but as I created my Twitter account something within me began to change. I had tapped into a new power.

In the first few moments nothing seemed different, but by inserting my ridiculous picture as a representation of myself in Twitter, it was as if I was applying for a passport. The only difference was that I chose the stupidest picture a had of myself instead of the most professional. The picture is appropriate, because I am rather silly, so I left it in Twitter and kept it here on my blog as well.

I say that I have left the island because I am no longer isolated. Instead of mocking something new, which is of course the most grown up and mature thing that I could have done, I took a chance and just tried it. Without expectation, I allowed Twitter to grow and I sought out others simply because they were out there too. I formed a social network of people with similar interests, or at least people that made me laugh. Before I began my exploration, I knew the definition of a social network, but not the experience of being a part of one. It is similar to seeing a book on a shelf, as opposed to actually reading the book. Unlike a book, I don't think anyone will turn Twitter into a full length movie, but if they did it might look like this...

Earlier this week, I tried to express to a group of follow computer resource teachers how Twitter has changed me. Very few, if any of them, really know me. After all, I haven't been off the island that long. Telling them how I have changed seemed so hollow.

I tried to tell them of the professional growth that I have made in my short time on Twitter. I emphasised the personal learning network aspect of the micro blogging service. I even compared it to the master's program that I was in a few years ago, but the comparison, while accurate, sounded funny even to me. It is not hard to understand why there was a snicker or two.

You can be a travel agent, but people must choose to leave the island on their own. No one should be Gilligan and remain stuck on an island forever.

So, how do you encourage others to leave the island?


Fisher said...

great thoughts. watching others sneak in twitter time at the conference encouraged me to at least swim off the island at bit. I might just keep swimming.

Michael said...

Great article Al!

I am new to Twitter but I left the island several years ago. When I got back to the US in 2004 (after working for 10 years for an international satellite TV company) I was astonished by how few people were truly connected. Marty may be able to explain my surprise when I was issued a VBCPS cell phone and it did not have text messaging capabilities…. “What do you mean you do not text? How do you stay in touch?” I had come from a place where we monitored critical IT systems via text messaging across countries. We had also launched a service in 2003 so that customers could order PPV events using cell phone txt messages and our installation techs were using their cell phones to activate boxes in customer homes using the internet via early WAP protocol. Of course, the biggest use of cell phone messaging was the social interaction between friends across countries and across the seas.

Nevertheless, we are all immigrants. We had to leave the island. This is not the case with our children who were not born on an island. I witness it with my teenage daughter who spent half of her life in another country. Her BFF lives a few thousand miles away; yet they are both involved in each other’s life as if they still live near each other. They know what is going on in each other’s life every day. They also share friends and when they get the opportunity to meet in either country, there is no catching up to do. They just go out and have fun with their friends whom they communicate daily using Web 2.0

Btw, we have come a long way today in DOT. We now use cell phone messages to monitor IT systems; we average about 1000 txt messages per month for each DOT tech cell phone.

Last thought: I had fun watching LisaNova's Youtube! :)