Detritus and Debris: Weeding My Social Networks

Visual Restfulness

Last week, I took advantage of the CLMOOC theme of Digital Audit to dive critically into my Twitter account as much as I could. First of all, I didn’t tweet (much) during the entire week. I did check in every now and then. Maybe I shouldn’t have but I did (apparently, I still have work to do on my attention and my social media habits, but in my defense, the few tweets I did produce were related to creating art for the DS106 Daily Create). The chart above shows interactions with my Twitter feed before and during my hibernation.

I casually disappeared.

Then, I spent about three hours over two days going through my Followers and those I am Following. It’s all so bloated now. I can’t say that I have ever had any intentions to having the largest number of followers I can amass. I truly believe that it not important to me. But I had racked up the number of those I was following because I can’t resist a teacher or writer that interests me.

Still …

In the course of my weeding, I “unfollowed” more than 500 accounts, and still have many more to go. (Sidenote: there has to be a better way than scrolling through time in my account, as each page loads in my Follower Page. Sigh. If you know a better way, can you tell me?).

My criteria was: does I recognize this name, even remotely? Do I ever see or notice this person in my timeline? If not, the likely result was an unfollow. I haven’t yet made it to the bottom of my follower list, so more are likely to go. (Note: I think I am going to explore this topic further in another post)

I also weeded out by blocking about 600 accounts that were following me. How the heck did so much debris get into there? I found marketing companies, strange invitations, weird bots, and folks with no connection to anything I am interested in. BlockBlockBlock. I went back two days later, and there were more new accounts to block. BlockBlockBlock.

This could be a full-time job … (I know I can set it up to approve every follow request but that seems like it would just exasperate the issue of email notifications.)

As for other social media, I took a pause in Mastodon, my latest social space of choice for writing and connecting in a federated space, but Mastodon still feels more personal to me, and under control. I missed writing in that space more than any other.

My Google communities seem fine and manageable (although I left a few G+ communities that I no longer needed), and Flickr and other places were not sources of much concern (in relation to flow of media and access … privacy safeguards are always another issue).

Facebook is a place where I have an account, but only because I run the Facebook page for Western Massachusetts Writing Project. Still, I ended the deluge of email notifications from Facebook, and quieted the siren’s call of all that I was apparently missing. Same with Instagram.

This is what I did with my off-line time instead of what I usually do (including writing blog posts) … I wrote postcards every day for the entire week for my CLMOOC friends, and sent out two postcards every day into the world. I made the social more personal, and it felt good (as the CLMOOC postcard project always does, by re-affirming the human connections.) Two postcards arrived during the week, too. That made me happy.

I still have much to do, but it felt good to do some weeding and resting. You, too?

Peace (amid the quietening),
Kevin

Blogging Break: Webcomic Interlude7

As part of a reflective ‘digital audit’ for CLMOOC’s Pop-Up Make Cycle this month, I am taking a break from daily blogging. Instead of writing posts here, I am going to be writing postcards to CLMOOC friends as part of our ongoing postcard exchange. In place of daily writing, I have scheduled a series of comics that I made, and shared on Twitter, about digital detox, with the Doc.

DocDigitalDetox7

and

DocDigitalDetox8

Peace (stay calm and power down),
Kevin

Blogging Break: Webcomic Interlude6

DocDigiDetox6

As part of a reflective ‘digital audit’ for CLMOOC’s Pop-Up Make Cycle this month, I am taking a break from daily blogging. Instead of writing posts here, I am going to be writing postcards to CLMOOC friends as part of our ongoing postcard exchange. In place of daily writing, I have scheduled a series of comics that I made, and shared on Twitter, about digital detox, with the Doc.

Peace (stay calm and power down),
Kevin

Blogging Break: Webcomic Interlude5

DocDigiDetox5

As part of a reflective ‘digital audit’ for CLMOOC’s Pop-Up Make Cycle this month, I am taking a break from daily blogging. Instead of writing posts here, I am going to be writing postcards to CLMOOC friends as part of our ongoing postcard exchange. In place of daily writing, I have scheduled a series of comics that I made, and shared on Twitter, about digital detox, with the Doc.

Peace (stay calm and power down),
Kevin

Blogging Break: Webcomic Interlude4

DocDigiDetox4

As part of a reflective ‘digital audit’ for CLMOOC’s Pop-Up Make Cycle this month, I am taking a break from daily blogging. Instead of writing posts here, I am going to be writing postcards to CLMOOC friends as part of our ongoing postcard exchange. In place of daily writing, I have scheduled a series of comics that I made, and shared on Twitter, about digital detox, with the Doc.

Peace (stay calm and power down),
Kevin

Blogging Break: Webcomic Interlude3

DocDigiDetox3

As part of a reflective ‘digital audit’ for CLMOOC’s Pop-Up Make Cycle this month, I am taking a break from daily blogging. Instead of writing posts here, I am going to be writing postcards to CLMOOC friends as part of our ongoing postcard exchange. In place of daily writing, I have scheduled a series of comics that I made, and shared on Twitter, about digital detox, with the Doc.

Peace (stay calm and power down),
Kevin

Blogging Break: Webcomic Interlude2

DocDigiDetox2

As part of a reflective ‘digital audit’ for CLMOOC’s Pop-Up Make Cycle this month, I am taking a break from daily blogging. Instead of writing posts here, I am going to be writing postcards to CLMOOC friends as part of our ongoing postcard exchange. In place of daily writing, I have scheduled a series of comics that I made, and shared on Twitter, about digital detox, with the Doc.

Peace (stay calm and power down),
Kevin

Blogging Break: Webcomic Interlude1

DocDigiDetox1

As part of a reflective ‘digital audit’ for CLMOOC’s Pop-Up Make Cycle this month, I am taking a break from daily blogging. Instead of writing posts here, I am going to be writing postcards to CLMOOC friends as part of our ongoing postcard exchange. In place of daily writing, I have scheduled a series of comics that I made, and shared on Twitter, about digital detox, with the Doc.

Peace (stay calm and power down),
Kevin

Collection of Student-Made Hero’s Journey Video Games

We’re nearing the end of our video game design unit. Here are a few of the Hero’s Quest games created by my sixth graders that I think showed good use of story and game design. Not all are easy to play and to win (although I have, as I graded them for story and design).

Peace (in games),
Kevin

Footsteps and Traces: A Personal Digital Audit

AnnaSmithQuote

My good friend, Anna Smith, helped launch a Pop-Up Make Cycle in CLMOOC this month that is perfectly in tune with the idea of the new year. Anna, inspired in part by a resource shared in December by Wendy Taleo in the CLMOOC ecosystem, asks us all to pause and think a bit about our digital traces and relationships with technology.

Call it: Conducting a Digital Audit.

Over at her blog, Anna has posted some of her questions for herself, and shared a ThingLink with various links to activities that anyone can do to audit how we are being tracked by apps and sites, how our use of technology impacts our life off-line, and more.

I’ve been spending time on this topic by delving into some online reading (and in making comics — I’ll share those here another day) in order to remind myself about the positive nature of my relationship with technology, social media and the digital platforms I use. Even with the many negatives — privacy intrusions, advertising targeting, hacking possibilities, etc. — I still find plenty of positives — from connected learning, collaborative projects, writing in spaces with others, exploring art in many forms and fashions, learning together, etc.

Here are some of the articles and blog posts I have been perusing and thinking about this week:

BryanAlexanderQuoteA piece by Bryan Alexander, shared in Terry Elliott’s newsletter, brought to mind the way that technology is changing the places of our learning, and in particular, our libraries. Alexander rightly praised librarians for being on the vanguard of understand and adapting to these shifts, all in the nature of helping adults and children make their own transitions into the digital world (while holding true to the values that our libraries have long represented around access and community public spaces).

JimGroomQuoteJim Groom wrote recently about the act of archiving, of curating what we are creating in online spaces. He notes the difficulty, due to the complexity of how we share with the world, but suggests the effort to archive is worth it, as it preserves a sense of who we are now, in this moment, as well as who we were, in the moments past. Digital tools allow us to do this in ways we could not otherwise, although it takes thought and planning and an active effort. The flip side is to lose yourself in the maelstrom of media. We’re always better at finding ourself, than losing ourself.

JoeBerkowitzQuoteDo you watch Black Mirror? I’ve only seen a few episodes of this rather dystopian view of how technology changes us, mostly for the worse. It’s anchored on our insecurities about technology, and the ways our digital lives will overshadow our real lives, and the impact that shift will have on society and relationships. Black Mirror freaks me out a bit, so I only watch it now and then. It’s vision is so extreme that I lose my faith in the possibilities.

KateBowlesQuoteA piece from some time back by Kate Bowles reminds us not to be drawn in by technology, particularly when it comes to educators who hold the door open for young people. She notes that many companies are pulling out the stops for a chance to market to our students, and schools and universities have an obligation as digital gatekeeper to keep the wolves at bay, as much as possible, while still harnessing the potential of technology for learning. This is often a difficult balancing job.

AndrewSullivanQuoteAn article by Andrew Sullivan caught my attention this week, as if by chance. I am reading Best American Non-Required Reading 2017 (which is a collection of pieces selected by high school students) and came upon Sullivan’s piece as I was thinking of Anna’s post. Sullivan explores his own efforts to disengage from his work as a digital writer, and how he had to re-learn to find the quiet and solitude of life again. He turned down the noise, and found some music again, and I think his lesson about reminding us to be human in all of our interactions — interpersonal as well as inner-personal — is valuable. It’s a powerful piece, well worth your time.

AlanLevineQuoteI appreciated a piece by Alan Levine, who wrote about his reaction to so much worry and concern being written these days about the media landscape. Yes, some of it is real and of real concern. But Levine notes that much of the best of technology, and the web, is still in those strange and creative places where people come together to spark imagination, make change for a better world, and imagine a future that works for us. Levine is not being naive in his assessment. He understands the pitfalls as well as anyone else. What he holds on to, and what I hold on to, too — and what I hope you do, too — is the potential of technology to enrich our experiences, as creative artists in whatever media you dabble and as people of these places, virtual or not.

Last, I’ll leave you with a video interpretation of a post by Laura Ritchie from a few weeks ago. Her piece explores musical harmony, with fingers stretched into how we learn and how we teach, and she weaves those ideas together in an enriching way. Laura’s piece reminds me again of the possibilities of being in balance with our technology and our agency in using that technology.

Next week, I am going to take Anna up on some of her advice of the digital audit, and I am going to begin with Twitter. (I’ve already shut off all notifications from Facebook, where I have an account only because I administer the site for our local writing project. The amount of notifications from Facebook is staggering.) I aim to cut my follows and followers on Twitter by a substantial percentage, and try to keep true to those whose work inspires me. More may not be merrier.

Also, I will probably take a blogging vacation, spending the time I usually write for this space instead with some postcards in the CLMOOC project — handwriting notes and poems and whatever to individuals in the CLMOOC community, honing in on the personal connections that make the online connections so powerful and enriching.

Peace (sharing it so pass it on),
Kevin