Thoughts on teaching, technology, learning and life in an era of change.
Keep Twitter Free! [of rules]
May 3rd, 2008

This post has a similar theme to my previous post. My thoughts were concerned with the dread of those who seemingly wish to manage or mould the world of education blogging.

Kate Olson has expressed concerns for those who wish to establish a set of rules for Twitter. I am an infrequent user of the tool yet Kate’s post echoes similar views ‘out there’.

Kate writes:  “I also don’t limit my blog reading to education blogs or twitter interactions to educators, so I’ve been rather frustrated when I see educators (and social media users, for that matter) try to make rules for twitter based on their particular use for the tool.”

I agree with Kate. We do not need rules.

As with my previous post I repeat my comment on Kate’s blog below. It sets out how I feel.

“Good post there Kate. You made a good point in your earlier post regarding ‘blogging rules’ back in February and as I indicated back then I feel that there is an edublogging hierarchy out there that is trying to establish a set of rules for all of us to follow. The ten commandments of the blogosphere. Thou shalt blog in my own style and image, sort of thing. Conservative, as opposed to progressive or even laissez-faire, thinkers. I hope I am not hauled up before the blogging inquisition for these statements.

It is a little weird at times. Sometimes I feel myself getting caught up in it as well and when I feel the tug of that conformist whirlpool dragging me in I don my flippers and swim away.

I agree, there are some twitter users and even bloggers who give the impression that they wish to set the agenda and hammer all of us into a square hole when we are all shaped in a variety of different ways. I am shaped like a rhombus.

Perhaps the ‘rule makers’ are frustrated educators who have a secret desire to be school principals or heads of department. They have an inner craving to be the principal of “Edublogger College” or “Twitter High”. [Not that I have anything against principals. I read a number of excellent blogs composed by principals, enlightened principals. Peter, if you are reading this, I like you too. Tee hee.]

Last night I was thinking wouldn’t it be wonderful if one could change their twitter avatar with a single click to reflect one’s mood or motive, like emoticons. You could have a bank of your own Twitter avatars at your disposal. If you are tweeting on a serious note then your avatar may be wearing a tie. If you are relaxing then there might be a can of beer or a cup of coffee in the avatar’s frame.

I giggled to myself as I thought about that multiple avatar idea further. What I was planning to do was to copy the twitter avatars of a number of the people that I follow and, using photoshop, replace just their face with my own. Then I was going to use the amended avatar and tweet in the style of that person, still with my original ID of course. Sometimes I feel people take Twitter and edublogging far too seriously. It would have been mischievous conduct but what the heck. They cannot put me in prison, can they?

Nadine, Harold, Christine, Sheryl, Taylor, Diane and Mindelei all have the right idea in my opinion. Yes, there is no need for rules. As I commented on Darren Draper’s (Drape’s Takes ~ a great blog by the way) recent blog posts (here and here) concerning Blogging Etiquette I do not need a set of rules or norms to guide me. I have a set of principles in my own conscience that I follow. That is enough.

Heather, I do not feel that with twitter and also with blogging that there should be some ‘social norms’ to follow. If a twitter user is inappropriate in any way simply block them. Let the masses decide. The same with bloggers. If they are a nuisance or inappropriate then all you need do is unsubscribe. Let the dynamics of the net decide their fate, not a set of rules or social norms. Who decides the ‘social norms ‘anyway?

Blog on Kate and tweet as if the sun had just risen!

There is no need for rules. We are all grown up enough to be sensible. Blogging and the occasional tweet appeal to me because there are no ‘rules’. Theoretically I can blog and tweet when I want, how I want, and on whatever I want. Of course I endeavour to be sensible. No ten blogging commandments for me.

If users of Twitter want to set up ‘rules’ then they can establish their own little social network api and call it Bitter, Flitter, Nitter or whatever.

5 Responses to “Keep Twitter Free! [of rules]”

  1. Kate Olson Says:

    I love how you say to let the dynamics of the net decide the fate, so artfully put! I’m thinking the perfect name for that social network would be called Bitter, as you suggested……rather fitting for the situation at hand :-)

  2. Bill Ferriter Says:

    Interesting post, John….and one I largely agree with. I’m not sure there needs to be any rules for blogging or Twitter because participation is by choice. If one doesn’t appreciate the writing being done by a blogger or the Tweets being sent by someone in their network, it’s easy enough to choose to leave that person out of their online actions.

    Formalizing a process that is largely controlled by individual decisions already seems counter-intuitive.

    The interesting thing for me is that I find myself imposing my uses of blogs and other digital tools on my students! I guess that a part of introduction ends up being indoctrination when you’re working with kids who have no experience with digital tools.

    I wonder how to best balance the need to introduce students to a system for using new tools with the freedom to experiment, explore and create new uses.

    I’ll be chewing on that for awhile!

  3. John Larkin Says:

    Kate and Bill, thank you for the comments. I appreciate your compliment there as well Kate. It is nice to awake on a Sunday morning, grab a cuppa and see that their is a compliment waiting for you in your in box.

    Bill, yes, it is true that the net does allow us to make choices if an individual annoys or offends. We can simply unsubscribe or block them. No-one is hurt or affected by those simple actions. In the workplace it is a little different. We need ‘rules’ written or otherwise that guide our interactions professionally and personally. If someone offends or annoys at work we cannot simply block them or unsubscribe the individual from the workplace.

    It is an irony that we do guide our students in the use of the blogs. I usually ask them to apply commonsense and even to read out aloud to themselves what they have written. When they hear their own words it can have an impact on how they perceive them.

    How to best to balance the need to introduce and the opportunity to explore? I do not have a simple ready-made solution at hand yet I suggest commonsense and the sharing of good examples. Show the students that you have faith in them to do the right thing and the students themselves will often set examples among their own peer group. They have the capacity to sort themselves out as well. They all know the difference between right and wrong.

    Thanks for your thoughtful words Bill. I am happy to share in this exchange,

    cheers, John.

  4. Mathew Says:

    Here here. Use it how you want to. People can choose to follow or not.

  5. John Larkin Says:

    Hi Mathew

    Thank you for your vote of support. There have been similar threads elsewhere in relation to the use of the read-write web by educators.

    Generally it seems the consensus appears that we need to apply commonsense and simply do the right thing and that a set of rules or guides is not really all that necessary. We are all grown up I guess.

    Cheers, John.