Ten Reasons to Keep Writing

One of the people I enjoy following on Twitter is the author Joanne Harris. Every so often (this might be weekly, but I’m not sure) she invites her followers to ask a question about anything and everything to do with writing and publishing, which she attempts to answer in #TenTweets

The question today has come from:

Katie Hall-May @mypapercastles

How about ‘why we keep writing when it seems nobody’s reading’? I had a wobble recently and then realised that (at least one) of the answers is ‘because its about the journey more than the destination’ – but I can’t be the only one who wobbles sometimes on this one.

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Joanne Harris’s ten tweets response would probably be of interest to anyone who writes in any capacity, including a blogger like myself.

Joanne Harris  @Joannechocolat

This may be personal to each individual author, I suspect, but feel free to join the hashtag.

Follow#TenReasonsToKeepWriting to collect them all!

  1. Because you love it. If you don’t, then how can a reader be expected to?
  2. Because every time you put something out there, you’re reaching out to others and sharing your experiences.
  3. Because one day, without knowing it, your words might change someone’s life.
  4. Because the more you write, the more you understand about the process, and the more you get out of reading.
  5. Because the book you most want to read hasn’t yet been written.
  6. Because it helps you make sense of things that have happened to you in your life – and sometimes even helps you fight back.
  7. Because there’s nothing like the feeling of making something out of nothing, using only your imagination.
  8. Because you’re improving all the time.
  9. Because you know that stories are how people from different cultures and with different experiences communicate, empathize and grow to understand each other.
  10. Because if this world can be saved, it will be by those with imagination, compassion, courage, perseverance and the ability to ignite those qualities in other people, using only the power of words.

#TenReasonsToKeepWriting     3:35pm · 26 Oct 2018

Why and how I use Twitter

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This post is for Maxine Griffiths (@now_teach_this) but I hope others will chime in, in the comments or on Twitter, to support Maxine in her MA in Education. She writes in a comment on the Jenny Mackness page of this blog:

Twitter is the focus of my critical reflection, how it has affected my practice, my students and the community and my colleagues. Could I ask you how it effected you as an educationalists? What influence if any has it had on your Practice?

This is an interesting question to reflect on. I joined Twitter in July 2008, but you can see from my stats that I am not an avid Twitter user.

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I remember a friend who I worked with (but who has since emigrated to New Zealand) – Nigel Robertson (@easegill) – joined in 2007 and was enthusiastic. I asked him about it and he told me I needed a minimum of 50 followers to get going. But I kept looking at it and seeing 140 character messages on people’s meals, cats, children etc. etc. I just couldn’t see the point.

It took me quite a while to get going on Twitter (to the extent that I want to get going). Two things influenced me to use it a bit more. The first was learning about Tweetdeck. Once I had installed that (I can’t remember exactly when), using Twitter became easier. I realised that it was much easier to follow the hashtag of courses and conferences with Tweetdeck. Suddenly Twitter became a bit more useful and less random. It hasn’t encouraged me to tweet at conferences though. I would find that a distraction. I don’t know how people manage to concentrate on the speaker and tweet, but Twitter is very useful for following a conference from a distance.

The second was a personal connection – Frances Bell (@francesbell). I started doing research with Frances in 2014 and it was a revelation to me that she uses Twitter and the Direct Messaging on Twitter for most of her communication (or at least that is my perception). I realised that if I didn’t log into Twitter everyday, and see messages from Frances, I was not going to keep on top of this research. So from 2014 my Twitter use has increased.

I am never likely to be a big user of Twitter. It is too public for me. I prefer to hold most of my communication in private. For this the private direct messaging is useful – not least because it doesn’t confine you to 140 characters. But apart from following hashtags for conferences, twitter chat and courses, the only thing I find it useful for is links to useful resources and ideas. I don’t interact a lot on the public stream of Twitter, and I don’t share anything personal, but I will post or retweet, and sometimes comment on, a post or article that I think worthwhile sharing – and I will copy in colleagues and friends who I think might be interested or find the link useful. I also tweet my own blog posts, as I have realised that this is where many blog posts are found, rather than via Feedly or equivalent. And I tweet my research papers when they are published (via WordPress having first blogged about them). I know that social media has an impact on research paper visibility.

Interestingly none of my family uses Twitter. I have just asked my son why not (he’s in his late 30s). He thinks it’s an environment which incites negativity, anger, bullying and abuse. He thinks the same of Facebook, which he tried but came out of. He reeled off the names of celebrities who get nothing but a stream of abuse on Twitter. I know this can be true. I definitely use the ‘block’ and ‘mute’ facility that Twitter offers. The ‘block’ for offensive spam or people, and the ‘mute’ for people whose voices are too loud. In this way I can just about cope with Twitter, but it is not my favourite tool.

But Maxine’s questions were :

How has it effected you as an educationalists? What influence if any has it had on your Practice?

I think I have explained above what influence it has had on my practice, but I don’t think it has had any significant impact on me as an educationalist beyond what I have mentioned above. But then, I am past retirement age and don’t work with any students. I think Twitter might have had more of an effect if I had still been teaching a lot, although some of my closest educationalist friends and colleagues rarely use Twitter and not with students.

Of course Twitter is now in trouble  and it’s difficult to know what they can do about it. They introduced the ‘Like’ heart – which I have yet to use, and there has been talk of increasing the 140 characters currently allowed. Who knows what effects this would have, but surely the attraction of Twitter is the 140 characters, the fast pace and the ease of communicating quickly.

But these are just my perspectives. Some of my colleagues, like Frances Bell (@francesbell), Mariana Funes (@mdvfunes) and others are very active on Twitter and it would be good to hear from them. And others have published research on the use of Twitter. See for example Bonnie Stewart’s work (@bonstewart). This is one paper (2015).

Open to influence: what counts as academic influence in scholarly networked Twitter participation http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/17439884.2015.1015547

I hope this has answered your questions at least in part Maxine. Feel free to ask more questions, or DM me on Twitter 🙂  And I hope you get plenty of alternative perspectives. Good luck with your MA in Education.

New Year non-resolutions. #ds106 #dailycreate

I picked up this idea from a tweet by Alan Levine – @cogdog

People having lots of fun with today’s #ds106 #dailycreate of Non-Resolutions tdc.ds106.us/tdc722/ Love one by @Downes (“the Cossack”??)

What a great idea – so much more satisfying than the usual alternative of declaring resolutions which we know we will never keep. This also completely fits with the glass half-empty perspective I have a natural tendency to adopt and which I have blogged about in the past.

So here are my non-resolutions – in no particular order.

  • I will not be looking for or finding the elixir of youth!
  • I will not join the ranks of the extroverts, even though I suspect this might have some advantages.
  • I will not succeed in persuading my family to work in a soup kitchen on Christmas Day 2014. After years of talking about it, I suspect this is unlikely ever to happen, although I did manage to keep it all very low key this year and prove that it can still be enjoyable.
  • I will not get to see Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, although I hope this might happen in 2015 or after. There are other places on my bucket list too, that will have to wait.
  • I will not work out the meaning of life. Why on earth are we here and what is it all for?
  • I will not read as much as I would like to and will continue to feel insufficiently informed about anything and everything 🙂
  • I will not be any more than an adequate photographer. After quite few stabs at it, courses etc., I have realised that all the associated technical stuff leaves me cold and takes the pleasure out of capturing the moment for me, i.e. snapping! I just need the memories, not the perfect photo.
  • I will not get to have it all my own way – thankfully! It wouldn’t be good for me 🙂
  • I will not be joining the ds106 community despite having it recommended by people I respect – but thanks for this motivation to blog once more before the end of the year.
  • I will not be able to stop questioning, every time I make a blog post, whether it was the right thing to do!

Happy New Year to anyone who ventures here and reads this post. May your 2014 be all you would wish for.

140 characters

This week I was in a meeting where a colleague said ‘If a post can’t be written in 140 characters it’s not worth writing’  or words to that effect. It might have been ‘not worth reading’. Shock horror! Where does this leave a slow, slow blogger, a person who always has to pause before thinking, a person who simply cannot say what she needs to say in 140 characters and so has not yet ‘twittered’ despite having an account, i.e. me!

Following the comment I did think carefully about the length of my emails. I do have experience of receiving hundreds of emails each week and of deleting emails beyond a screen view in length, because I simply don’t have the energy to answer them. I am now trying to keep a check on the length of my own emails. But only for people that I am not really connected to. If I feel really connected to someone, I really couldn’t care how long their email or post is, I just want to hear from them / ‘connect’ with them. Do they feel the same, I wonder? I think they do, if they have the time – and I can empathise with not having enough time.

140 characters might be enough for a short in-the-moment  information exchange – but I don’t think it’s for me. Not at the moment anyhow!

I don’t Twitter or Tweet!

I have a Twitter account, but I’m not yet convinced that I want to go down this route. Apologies to anyone who has tried to connect with me that way.

I’ve had some quite persuasive arguments put to me about the benefits of ‘twittering’. A friend told me that I would only see the benefits once I had a big enough group of people to follow or be followed by. I think the figure he mentioned was over 50.

This article Brave New World of Digital Intimacy (which is quite old now – 2006) is also quite persuasive in many ways. But there are also some scary bits.

The first is ‘time’. The article describes asking someone with 1000 online contacts how she finds the time. Her reply was – that she needs to spend only a small part of each hour actively reading her Twitter stream. But that is only her Twitter stream – presumably she still has her email, her mobile texts, her Facebook, possibly her Flickr, her blog etc. etc. and even if she didn’t have all these, then even a small part of each hour builds up- and worse is the fact that you appear to have to be joined at the hip to your online connection to be connected these days. (I’m beginning to feel a bit like this with this course – spending far too much time online! Can’t be healthy!) 

And here’s another seriously scary part of the article:

“Sometimes I think this stuff is just crazy, and everybody has got to get a life and stop obsessing over everyone’s trivia and gossiping,” she (Ahan) said.

Yet Ahan knows that she cannot simply walk away from her online life, because the people she knows online won’t stop talking about her, or posting unflattering photos. She needs to stay on Facebook just to monitor what’s being said about her. This is a common complaint I heard, particularly from people in their 20s who were in college when Facebook appeared and have never lived as adults without online awareness. For them, participation isn’t optional. If you don’t dive in, other people will define who you are.

This is a real life example of the tyranny of participation that I mentioned in an earlier post.

There’s lots of positive stuff in the article, but I’m still not convinced. However, I’ve always been one of the last to adopt new technologies. Give me another couple of years and I might have changed my mind!

The article is worth reading though.