Being active in many networks (@cristinacost)

Cristina CostaA post from Cristina Costa on “How I manage to keep active in so many networks” was one I read at the weekend that stopped me in my tracks and made me think “that’s it, that’s what I meant to say!”

But what was the question? Simple … when someone questions your activity on blogs, Twitter, Google+, etc., how do you respond?

“It’s actually really valuable to me, and it is only a reflection of how it has progressed. It was not always like that … it rather evolved to become what it is today!”

Cristina notes that it’s about the journey from nowhere to here, it’a about changing the way we work to get the most and best out of what is available. Whether it’s online, in the office, in the queue for a cuppa in the morning, in a meeting, etc. It’s all about making sure you have access tot the best of what’s on offer.

“[It’s] important to remember that working and participating online requires you to change the way you work… or at least, to acknowledge that the way you work is not the way your mother imagines you work. Working from 9 to 5 in academia is just unrealistic. Concentrating for long periods of time just doesn’t work for me.” [emphasis is mine]

Yes. We haven’t always been online tweeting and ‘liking’ what we read or post. For many it’s a new thing but for some of us it’s become an integral part of our daily (read: all day, everyday; including evenings, weekends, and family holidays) grind.

“Building your personal learning network doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time to build confidence to post “your own stuff”. And it takes equal effort to build your network. It’s important to choose the people you follow because they will be the ones providing critical content. Collective intelligence is the hook to your participation and existence in these networks [in my humble opinion, that is]; the social interaction what brings it all together.”

When talking about the personal learning network I would also add that it is important to note that it is not always a deliberate effort, that the network grows because of the activity and not the intention – when I started blogging and tweeting I did not know the term PLN or personal learning network, nor had I even thought that I was creating anything like this, I just ‘did it’ to find knowledge and share my own with like-minded individuals.

Please read Cristina’s post in full: “How I manage to keep active in so many networks”. Does this sound familiar, is this how you have grown in and around social networking, is this how your colleagues view your online activity? Leave a comment here or on Cristina’s original post and share your experiences.

  • Cristina Costa

    Great point – indeed my personal network has taken me places I had not anticipated nor planned. And I mean that in a positive way. There is such a rich world out there … not only in terms of information but also of connections. I am often in awe with the kindness of people that “cross” the online spaces in which I co-exist. And whilst not trying to depreciate my face to face networks – they are valuable too, my “blended” networks (sometimes we manage to meet face to face) have provided me with (some rather special) support. I think that in a way it also has to do with the immediacy of the medium and how quick we can get answers, discuss things, share a kind word. All of this makes me want to continue here.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Hi Cristina. I feel quite giddy sometimes at the transfer of ‘power’ behind the shift to online support and my PLN – I find some people are able to shower us with more support through the shared experiences we have online than some are able to offer offline, in the real world. Is it because words of encouragement in a limited 140 character space is easier (it’s not, it’s really hard to write something meaningful in 140 characters) or because these people have a better understanding of the (new) world in which I/we live and work?

      I think there’s a paper in that question/statement somewhere, for someone ;-)

      All the best, David

      • Cristina Costa

        True – maybe that’s because we tend to gravitate towards people who think alike, have the same needs, like to voice their opinions, their fears/questions… sometimes even share the same kind of humor.

        I have experienced a different kind of generosity online – more prompt, quicker, distributed support. There is always someone there to answer. It’s hard to explain…

        I think there is a cultural aspect in face to face communication too: on the one hand we shouldn’t always be pestering people with our queries, and on the other we should not show that we are too eager to help, take part in something… Not even sure what I am writing makes sense! It’s silly, isn’t it? I feel some people think that showing their enthusiasm makes them vulnerable. Online we can ask anything anytime. Someone will answer. We draw from a greater pool of human knowledge and connections.

        I have actually been thinking about this recently as I often reply to all my emails within hours if not minutes. (if it doesn’t get answered within the same day, the chances are that it might not!) … I am starting to feel that some people think I am a bit too keen and/or have got nothing else to do! Yet, the fact is that I don’t like waiting around for an answer. I thought other people would think the same way, but apparently that’s not the case. Add to that the fact that people know that I have just moved to a new city and that bring an entire new dimension to their judgment of my emailing habits/ willing to participate in different things…

        There is also the social element. Bonding online seems to happen quicker. There is something about people opening up a bit more about themselves, showing their social side … I think it takes longer to know people face to face …maybe because you don’t spend as much time with them as you spend (seeing your PLN) interacting online. And there may be something about the written word too. I think it allows us to express ourselves more effectively! … in short, I’m not sure why that is, but I like it! :-)

        • Bonding online is quicker perhaps as it’s easier to make the distinction between what we want to share and what we actually share: there are no tell-tale facial expressions or body language to give us away – we can write and re-write our messages to carefully project the person we want to be and want to be seen as.

          Like you I want to respond in a timely manner to questions or comments. I don’t think it’s being over keen or not having enough to do, I think it’s more about a willingness to be seen to be active, engaged, helpful, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic. Surely these should be good attributes to have? If someone takes too long to respond to a message does that mean they’re any less keen or enthusiastic? It may say more about their time-management skills or workload, in that they have too much to do and not enough time to do it in?

          Thank you, again.

        • Cristina Costa

          I think writing (online) as a form of expression does definitely have the potential of bringing the best you (I always think of the best things to say after I stop to think about it. By then my opportunity to share them has passed. I think online communication allows you that. You can “pause” interaction to convey your message in a more reflective way. Consequently, I also think it makes me a better speaker face to face. Better, not great!

          I still haven’t completely got around This.. I am yet to come up with a convincing argument about who we are online… but I am not sure we can fully create a totally different persona online (not sure if that’s what you meant either!). I think that online we might get an edited version of it. Human beings are far from being good communicators and most people have a hard time thinking on their feet.

          Maybe true – but if you take a long time to reply, There is a good change I moved on to something else! This takes me to another (un-related) topic – how do people cope with an inbox full of unread emails?! It would drive me mad! :-)

        • What a brilliant conversation! I think you just hit the nail on the head Cristina – “people have a hard time thinking on their feet.” or at least having the courage to express those initial raw thoughts for fear of being rebuked/laughed at. Whereas online we have chance to reflect and responding doesn’t have to be in real time.

          For me my growing PLN (which include the both of you as valuable and inspiring people) have given me the courage to develop my own work and share it.

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