In his keynote, Brian Lamb gives his reasons for being open as in open education, open learning, open scholar. Two of his quote stuck immediately:
“Don’t worry about how you are going to share, but start sharing” and “reciprocal economy – it’s not just about the resources you share, it’s how much you give of yourself”.
Don’t worry about how you are going to share, but start sharing. Scott Leslie wrote a great post on just this topic in November 2008: “Planning to Share vs. Just Sharing”. The message in both the presentation and the blog post is clear: If you want to share, just do it and do not wait until all the details are dealt with, until everybody agrees. If you do that, you will never (or only after a long wait) be able to share and the action will be over.
If you can share openly, as Chris Lott and Jared Stein did with the Ustream of the keynote, everybody around the world can benefit from your efforts and not just a small number of people. What’s in it for you? Well, you put yourself out there and connect to people who may have interesting things for you. But you may never have known about them had you not been involved online and shown what interests you.
Sharing is not a one-way street. It is about reciprocity: giving and taking. However, “it is not just about the resources you share, it’s how much you give of yourself” as Brian Lamb quoted Martin Weller who uses the term “reciprocal economy” for that. The things and the way you share your knowledge, information etc. must be of value to others.
Martin Weller uses Twitter as an example which is quite suitable to show that there needs to be more than just resources to share in order to form connections that are valuable to both sides. The social aspect should not be neglected in the online world. I can find prime examples among people I follow on Twitter.
On the one hand, take Twitter user A who only sends tweets about published articles, book chapters etc. I have often followed up on his reading suggestions. However, I do not know anything about this person except that he reads a lot. I have yet to see a reply to people he follows or a retweet. I guess I could send him reading suggestions to his Twitter account and see if he lists them. But I am not inclined to do so because I can’t “see” who he is.
On the other hand, there is the group of Twitter users B who do not only provide links to interesting, funny, thoughtful information, videos, cartoons, blog posts, but who also share bits and pieces about their daily lives. I see the persons in every tweet because they are all different. They do not follow a standard way of writing, but they are individual and convey the personality of these people. The range of things they share is also wide. As they reply to tweets and also retweet, I get to know with whom they connect, where their interests lie, what they may laugh about. It is to those people that I address tweets and let them know about things that they may like instead of just sending out a tweet that gets lost in the constant stream of 140-character messages.
I have probably met only a handful of the people I follow more closely on Twitter, but I know more about them than of a large number of students and colleagues on campus and also friends whom I rarely see. Though these short messages can’t be a substitute for face-to-face conversations or longer online exchanges, they give a glimpse into our lives and make it possible to form relationships online.
Up until now I have kept Twitter and Facebook updates separate though my tweets are aggregated in Facebook so that the people in my network there can see everything. I have pondered about this decision for some time especially since Facebook became more Twitter-like. Is the distinction still necessary? I now also post more links in my Facebook updates than some time ago and they do not show up in Twitter unless I repost them there. Some Facebook updates are of a more personal nature or simply ones that I had not thought about posting to Twitter because the audiences are different. I know most of the people in my Facebook personally though that does not say anything about the degree of “knowing” as these personal acquaintances range from old-time friends, new friends, and colleagues to students whom I saw in a workshop or two. Twitter is more of a professional network with lots of people from whom I just know the tweets, but nothing else.
Now I am curious. I will embark on an experiment (don’t know yet how to monitor it and how easily I can gather the data from the past in Facebook) linking my Facebook updates to Twitter and vice versa so that they show up equally on both systems. What will the changes be for me (self-perception)? Will there be noticeable changes in Facebook and / or on Twitter, e.g. increased amount of comments, more replies? I assume that the biggest changes (if any at all) will be on Facebook as I generally do not change my status update daily. Although I am not a heavy Twitter user, I think I post there more often than on Facebook.
Off to install a Twitter app in Facebook…
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