Got Social?

It’s not the content, stupid

A while back I posted about response rates in the three major social networks I’m a part of – Twitter, Facebook, and Google +

The actual point of that post was my trying to come to terms with how I interacted with LinkedIn.  I can report that, after that blog, I decided that LinkedIn had changed since I first time I signed up and also that social networking had changed.  I couldn’t find any reference on the LinkedIn site about being able to vouch for the people in your LI network, so I’ve decided to selectively start accepting request there from people I have not worked with.  I’m still selective of who I’m saying yes to, but I’ve begun to broaden that circle.

But I digress…

As I mentioned in the previous post, I will, from time to time, run the same type of experiment where I toss an inquiry out to all three networks and quantify the response.  The grenade this time had to do with a presentation I’m making in my Narrative, Digital Media, and Learning class.  I’m doing a presentation on Game-based learning and narrative, from a pedagogical approach.  On our opening slide I wanted to include a few iconic images from games.  I choose a Playstation controller, a playing card (the “suicide” king [king of hearts]) and a Monopoly playing token.  I choose the thimble but wanted to see what others thought was the most recognizable.  I ask all three networks “What is the most recognizable Monopoly playing piece”

  • Five people from Facebook responded.  I have 256 friends, so that’s 2%
  • Three people from Twitter responded.  I have 895 people who follow me, so that’s 0.3%
  • Two people from Google + responded.  I have 161 people in circles, so that’s 1.2%

Now, there are a few things to unpack here aside from the numbers.  First off, in the last post, I speculate that my question may have been too complex for Twitter’s short responses.  Clearly that should not be the case here, as this is a short answer – potentially as short as one word.  I also speculated that the content might be to blame, that people who don’t use LinkedIn wouldn’t care.  Well, I’d wager that the vast majority of people in my networks have at lease played Monopoly once, so they could at least relate to that, taking that issue off the table.

So the question becomes, why such a low response rate.  Could it be that The Stream just goes by so quickly that people don’t see it?  I don’t know, but I think the numbers show a telling story.

Facebook was fairly consistent.  I have four less “friends” than the last time.  Although one or two have been added, I’m also weaning off some folks who I’d originally said yes to but I really want to keep FB to very close personal friends and family (and the occasional totally awesome person from work or school).  The FB response, which was 1.2% last time was 2% this time.  So even though I have fewer people in my network, I had a net increase of .8%.  Not a lot – it’s an increase, but its negligible.  This gets Facebook the Consistency Award.

Twitter was actually the big winner, sorta, kinda, but not really.  I have 24 more followers since the last time, for a total of 895, and the response rate went up by 50%!  The response rate last time was a meager .2% (not 2%, 2/10ths of a percent) and it went all the way up to .3% (3/10ths of a percent).  Yes, this is a decent increase, percentage-wise, but the anemic response rate in total still leads me to believe that Twitter is an echo chamber where more people (not all, more) are there to be voyeurs instead of active participants.  If The Stream has an effect anyplace it’s here.  So many people follow so many other people that The Stream just flies by.  If it weren’t for Lists, I’d miss stuff I wanted to catch.

The big loser in all of this was Google +.  Although I have 2 more followers in my circles than the last time, the response rate dropped by nearly half!  The last time I had a response rate of 2.5% and this time it dropped in half to only 1.2%.  This could mean that more people are following others and The Stream is going by too fast or fewer people are paying attention to Google +.  In either event, this is a negative development.

It’ll be interesting to see how these number change, if they change, the next time I try this.

[UPDATE] I forgot to add this to the original post and wanted to.  Hasbro, the company that owns Monopoly, did a survey in 1998 of the most recognizable playing piece.  The results can be found here, but the winner was the Racing Car with 18% of the vote (followed not far by the Dog (16%) and the cannon (14%).

LinkedIn and my social media experiment

So, I used a recent shout out to try to accomplish two things.

First, for the last year, or a bit more, I’ve been having a constant battle with how to deal with LinkedIn, specifically with regard to connection requests.  I’ve been getting requests from people I do not personally know, or know well.  Now, I have no reason to believe they are not nice people, that’s not my concern – my understanding of LinkedIn has been is that its supposed to be people you could “vouch for” from having worked with them.  Now, I combed their site for that language and I no longer see it.  If you can find it, feel free to comment it here.  So maybe they have changed their pitch, but when I signed up (a million years ago) it very specifically indicated this.

Even though I don’t know someone right now doesn’t mean I might not want to know them – that’s called “meeting new people” and we do that in professional situations all the time.  So, has LinkedIn turned into the online equivalent of the professional cocktail party?  I guess it can be whatever I want it to be, for me, but I did want to find out what others said and I’ll get to that in a moment.

The other thing I used this for was to test how each of my networks would respond.  I posted my though via to Facebook and Twitter (and LinkedIn, Plurk, and a few others I’ve long forgotten but opened to test them out), and I also posted it to Google+.  The wording was exactly the same on all three.  Now, Google+ surprised me.  I’ve  not been impressed with its adoption.  I like it, but I haven’t found much value in checking it regularly.  I’ve created circles, but I monitor my main stream.  Its interesting, it’s just not been sticky for me and I’m not sure why.

Now, I posted my “grenade” at 7:19am on Monday, October 24th.  When I say grenade, I mean a digital blip that I retreat from and wait to see the reaction.  Like, posting “Who is on LinkedIn and how do you decide who to accept into your network?”

So its been roughly 50 hours that its been out there.  The Stream has gone by fast enough that most of the people who will reply have probably done so.  ”The Stream’ is what I refer to as the input from all of my feeds – Twitter, Facebook, RSS, I think even email to some extent, but mostly the first two – the very active and constantly moving stream of digital existence that I’m tapped into.

Anyway, here are the numbers

  • Twitter:  Two people replied.  I have 871 followers, so that is 0.2%
  • Facebook: Three people (other than myself) involved in conversation.  I have 260 friends, so that is 1.2%
  • Google + : Four people responded.  I’m not sure how many people saw it, since I posted it to my circles, my extended circles, and publicly, but I have 159 people in my circles (and 209 people who have added me) and all four people who responded are in a circle of mine.  That means their G+ response is 2.5%, more than twice that of Facebook and WAY more than Twitter.

One main caveat is that it could have been the content of the question.  Clearly, this response rate has everything to do with whether or not the people seeing the post felt compelled to respond.  I know that, but the above is comparing the three networks based on the same exact input.  What needs to happen next is, another post but of a different topic.   I’ll wait a while, since now “the cats out of the bag” that I’m looking at this, so it could have an impact on people responding, one way or the other.

The actual content of the responses is also quite interesting.  On Twitter, although there were two responses, one of them was a spambot, so there was really only one response.  No matter how you look at it, that’s a pathetic response rate.  Now, this says something about me, my relationship with Twitter, the people who follow me, the relationship I have with them, and the medium itself.  Good, bad, or indifferent, the response says something about the relationships; it has to, by design.

The person who responded via Twitter said she’d accept a response from anyone.  Knowing the responder, I’m sure she’d look at the profile first and as long as the person wasn’t a stalker creep, she meant anyone.  So, 100% of Twitter respondents indicated they did not need to know the person personally or have worked with them.  Yes, 100%, how amazing is that Mr. Disreali?

Facebook was interesting in that it was a conversation.  Someone posted a response, then someone else did, agreeing with what the first person posted.  I responded to both of them and asked a clarifying question.  A third person joined in and then the second person responded to the clarification. There was one final post by me, about 2 hours after the initial posting.  So the Facebook stream has a 2 hour window, at these with these four people.

Three of the four respondents to the Facebook posting said they needed to know the person personally, professionally, and/or have worked with them. The fourth said that it was a professional network, but that he also used it to keep and maintain professional connections, especially with those doing the same job he does.

As I said above, Goole + is the one that surprised me.  Normally I see far more constructive content in Facebook, but clearly Google+ schooled Facebook with over twice the response rate.  The four Google + respondents work in Academia.  In the Facebook response, one was in higher ed, one worked in higher ed in the past, on the IT side of the house, and the third works for a company that does a lot of business with higher ed.  All four higher education professionals (Google + response) said that they either needed to know the person, have personally met them, or have a close association with them in the digital world (worked on something, same organization, etc…).

So, the final tally is…

  • Need to know them personally or have a working virtual relationship with them. 7 (78%)
  • Do not need to know them personally or have a working relationship with them. 2 (22%)

I’m not really clear what all this says in-and-of itself.  I mean, there is interesting information in all this, but until I get a chance to run a second experiment, this means little in isolation.

Deja Vu All Over Again

Facebook has changed its format – again.

Just when I was getting used to the last set of changes I didn’t like, Facebook goes and changes their layout again.

I’m not going to jump on the “I Hate Facebook Changes” bandwagon – again – because it does no good, it will have no impact and will change nothing.

But I think I’m reaching the saturation point with Facebook as a personal social medium.  I don’t plan to quit, I have too many groups, keep in contact with too many people through those groups, and make use of their Events (although it still baffles me why Events don’t have time zone support).  But I may not pay as much attention to it anymore.

I keep Facebook open on a second monitor.  It’s not my main monitor, so its background chatter for me, but I think I’ll minimize it into the tool tray and only open it when I need to add or update an event.  I rarely post something specifically to FB, anyway  Usually, I post to, which posts to all my networks at once.  So I might try minimizing this and see exactly what I’m missing by not having it open.

Has Facebook jumped the shark?

What’s good for the goose…

For some time now we’ve been hearing about grade school administrations that have been holding students accountable for things they post to social network sites when they are not at school.  There have been numerous stories of students who have been suspended, kept from their prom or graduation, etc. because of something they posted to Facebook, or some other social media.

Well, apparently its ok to punish students for doing that but when a teacher does it, then its free speech.

This high school teacher from Florida recently went on a rant on Facebook about New York approving gay marriage.  He certainly has a right to his own opinion, although I’m not sure why he cares so much about what goes on in a state he doesn’t live in, but I digress.  According to this article the teacher

“wrote on his Facebook page that he “almost threw up” when he was having dinner and news came on of New York’s decision to allow same-sex marriage showed up July 25.

“If they want to call it a union, go ahead,” Buell wrote, according to ”But don’t insult a man and woman’s marriage by throwing it in the same cesspool as same-sex whatever! God will not be mocked. When did this sin become acceptable???”

Now, this guy has over 700 friends on Facebook, so this isn’t really a “private” matter, or just his opinion, he’s got a bit of a pulpit there and he is using it.  Ok, fine, his choice.  Although some of his friends did push back (and he promptly told them to unfriend him if they didn’t like what he wrote), but still others started a Facebook page to support him.  All of that is their right, I guess, sort of, until it become hate speech, then…not so much anymore.  Substitute the idea of “blacks” or “jews” or [insert any other minority group name here] and we’re talking prejudice, the kind that land people in some big trouble.

Well, according to the tweet that directed me to this article, the teacher was suspended but has since been reinstated.  According to the HuffPo article, this teacher claims “everything was done on a personal basis: on his own time and personal computer at home.” [note: the quote is from the author of the article and not necessarily an attribution to the teacher]

Wait – hold on one second.  Lets roll back to the beginning of my blog post here.  Schools are holding students accountable for the things they say on social networks when they are not at school, on their own time, and not using school equipment.  But according to this guy, its ok for him to spout anti-gay sentiments because, as he told The Sentinel that’s his “way I interpret things” and he was doing it not at work, on his own time, and not using school equipment.


Death of an Island

An era, of sorts, has come to an end.  The official presence of Montclair State University in Second Life has officially gone from 3 regions to 2.  Montclair State CHSSSouth went POOF tonight, and disappeared into the ether, taking many memories with it.

 This snapshot, the right, is a view looking south, beyond the sometime quidditch pitch, sometime ice skating rink, toward where CHSSSouth used to be.

CHSSSouth was the last of the MSU islands and was originally funded through an end-of-the-year grant from MSU’s Office of Information Technology.  Our OIT was generous enough to continue to fund this region beyond the one-year grant.  When Linden Lab announced that they were, in effect, doubling MSU’s cost on the island, it provided an opportunity for the university to assess its land usages.  It was decided that the island would not be renewed.

At that same time, MSU began experimenting with opensim instances and now has its own hosted opensim grid.  So, in essence, we got rid of one region and picked up four for a fraction of the cost.  For what MSU was using that space for, an opensim alternative is more than suitable.  In fact, its given us the opportunity to try things we could not in Second Life, thanks to the control we have over the servers.

Other than what MSU used the space for (faculty office space other than for classes, replica of a building that is just now actually being completed on our actual campus and ready to open soon, and some classroom space) CHSSSouth was known for two things: The VWER Meetings and the Free Land Initiative.  The VWER has since found a wonderful home on the Bowling Green Virtual Campus.  The Free Land Initiative was taken over by the VWER and moved to its own opensim grid hosted and sponsored by ReactionGrid.  In June of this year, ReactionGrid notified the VWER that it could no longer maintain the sponsorship relationship and needed to shut down the VWERGrid.  This put an end to the Educators Land Initiative.

The faculty space on CHSSSouth has moved to MSU’s opensim grid.  The Finely Hall recreation and language classroom have been relocated to Montclair State CHSS, which is our original island.  The disposition of that after its maintenance expires in April of 2012 is still in question.

Is WTF vulgar or inappropriate

I’m organizing a roundtable discussion on the use of social media in education.  To get attention, and as an example, I’m thinking about using the acronym WTF in the title.  Is that vulgar or inappropriate.  Does WTF mean the same thing as what the three letters stand for?  Has WTF been seen on TV or heard on radio?  I think it has.  What do you think, take my survey:

[polldaddy poll=4810473]

Naughty kids on Facebook

Last night, on Twitter, Amy Bruckman posted the following

asbruckman: Middle schoolers forced to show principal facebook accounts, then threatened with expulsion for calling teacher names:

The story is about a principal at a school where kids are, what, 11, 12, 13 years old, forced – FORCED a student to show her their Facebook page.  There were some awful things posted about a teacher, with words like pedophile and rapist.  I’m not defending what the kids said or wrote.  This is a parent issues.  These kids are young and their parents should be monitoring what they do on Facebook.

What this principal did was wrong, and I’m not a lawyer but I’d guess it violated the rights of these children.  I know that it was in a public domain, and if that’s the case, and the principal found the comments in a public way, then it is well within her right to take action.  She has no right to FORCE (their words, not mine) this student to show her the Facebook page.

I responded to Amy on Twitter

sorry_afk@asbruckman def. Violation of childs priv. Either facebook is/is not a school thing. Can’t have it both ways. I hope they sue the principal

and someone name Erica Glaser wrote back

EricaGlasier@sorry_afk@asbruckman @ToughLoveforX WDYT of the particular names the students called the teacher? WWYD if you were that teacher’s boss?

To which, someone named ToughLoveForX responded:

@EricaGlasier WID? It’s a eachable moment. Make it part of Public Discourse in skl. Disciplining is the ez way out. @sorry_afk @asbruckman

My response was far too much for 140 characters, so I decided to put it here.

First off, I think the principal should be disciplined.  There was no imminent threat to the school, this is not like opening a kids locker (which is school property anyway, Facebook is not), it’s a somewhat private space, one which schools like these have been arguing, ironically, that should not BE in schools.  And yet…

If I were the parents of these kids, I would file a law suit.  There are checks and balances for authority.

If I were the school system, I would do a community program on the positive AND negative things about social networks – and NOT bring up these kids directly.  Everyone will know, from the press, what the genesis of this is – no need to give these kids more attention than they have already had.

I would also bring the kids AND THEIR PARENTS into school for a conference, and talk about why this happened and how.

I don’t know this teacher in question, but I might want to find out what prompted these comments.  It could very well be a few kids acting out for no reason, and it very likely is the case, but I wouldn’t let this go unquestioned.

So, that is what I would do – right or wrong, and I’m not involved in K-12, I don’t have kids, its easy for me to sit here in my office and write this.  But these things seem logical to me.  The most important thing is, this principal was wrong, with a capital W.


I had the great fortune to attend TEDxNYED on Saturday.  This was the second year I was able to make this awesome event.  Last year we heard from the likes of Lawrence Lessing, Michael Wesch, Henry Jenkins, and Amy Bruckman, just to name a few.  It was an amazing day.  This year was no less amazing, although it was very focused on the K-12 learning environment.  I had a few minutes to chat with Co-Curator Karen Blumberg after the event and she accepted full credit/blame for that.  She must have heard that comment for more than one person, because she was quick to say it was all her doing, almost a little defensively.  I felt bad since I didn’t mean it in a bad way.  I thought she and Basil Kolani did an excellent job with this years events and I really enjoyed all the speakers.

I decided I was NOT going to be one of those tweeting every favorite line, since there would be more than one person doing that.  Besides, I hate when my feed ends up full of line and line after line from people using Twitter as their note pad.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad when people tweet a line or two – just not treating twitter as a LiveBlog.  I’ve included some of the one line notes (I might have tweeted) below.  Toward the end, I lose steam.  I was mentally and physically exhausted by the end of the day.  So the fact that I have no notes for Will Richardson and the others at the end is more a matter of fatigue than that he had nothing interesting to say.  Quite the contrary.

One thing I did learn…there is a K-12 revolution.  I don’t know how far beneath the surface it is, because I don’t pay attention to that area as closely as I should, but it is there, and it was an unspoken undercurrent of the entire day, at least for me.  This revolution is about how we teach K-12, and it has nothing to do with test scores or standardization.  Well, I guess it does, but not in the way those in power think of it.

As higher ed folks, we need to help them facilitate that revolution because that will have a direct impact on the quality of the students we’ll end up seeing in our higher education classrooms. In fact, aside from the quality of student, I’d guess it will increase the quantity.  So the industry of “higher education” has a financial incentive, along with the moral one.

We need to start talking about this more.  And in order to start a coordinated conversation, and a way for us all to follow this, I’m going to start using the hashtag #k12revo

Spread the word.

Alan November

  • Don’t teach any one technology, teach critical thinking and problem solving.  Technology will change.
  • Are our students leaving a legacy?
  • Purpose is what motivate people…Dan Pink book called “Drive”
  • What does purposeful work look Ike?

Homa Tavangar

Lucy Gray

  • The Global Education Conference
  • Technology is not dehumanizing people, quite the contrary

John Ellrodt and Maria Fico

TED video – Kiran Bir Sethi

  • The ican bug…it’s contagious
  • From “teacher told me” to “I can do it”
  • When children are empowered, not only do they do lol, they do very well

Gary Stager

  • Tougher is not an effective learning theory
  • “the Sasquatch effect” heard of it but never seen it before.
  • Innovation = willingness to change everything
  • A good prompt is worth a thousand words
  • Every visitor to your classroom is a teacher
  • We need to create environments that are coercion free.
  • Less us, more them

Brian Crosby

  • Get away from teaching kids how to be taught and move to teaching kids how to be learners

Heidi Hayes Jacob

  • What year are you preparing your students for?
  • Put GEO in front of everything you teach
  • What does a quality —- look like?
  • I’d rather have students make a Facebook page for Julius Ceasar instead of an essay

Dennis Littky

  • If you’re not standing not the edge, you’re taking up too much space

Diana Laufenberg

  • The culture of the one right answer

Rinat Aruh

  • Design has a role in education

Luyen Chou

  • The learning revolution…it didn’t happen

Patrick Carman

  • The high five….TV, Games, iPhone/Pad/Touch, Computer, Cell

Steve Bergen

  • FIO (figure it out) and plan b (what to do if plan a does not work)
  • The Jesse test… Nothing could ever please Jesse Helms, Jesse Jackson, and Jesse Ventura

Stacey Murphy

Samona Tait

Will Richardson

VeriziPhone vs iPhone (2G)

My great friend Anthony Fontana is visiting for a couple of days and he’s staying with me.  He is proudly showing off his new iPhone from Verizon, subsequently called the VeriziPhone.  Since my iPhone was stolen a few weeks ago I’ve had to revert back to using my old 2G iPhone which I got the January after the original came out.

We decided to use to test the speed of the networks.  Now, this is REALLY not a fair test.  Anthony is on a brand new iPhone 4G and I’m using and I’m using a pretty old phone.  We’ll have to try this test again in June when I have some other visitors thanks to the Emerging Learning Design Conference*

So, this was the response from Anthony’s test:

Test Date: Feb 12, 2011 7:43 PM
Connection Type: Cellular
Server: Newark, NJ
Download: 0.83 Mbps
Upload: 0.69 Mbps
Ping: 211 ms

And here was my test:

Test Date: Feb 12, 2011 7:40 PM
Connection Type: Cellular
Server: Newark, NJ
Download: 0.05 Mbps
Upload: 0.03 Mbps
Ping: 1025 ms

Clearly a HUGE difference, perhaps even more than the old network/new network can account for.  We’ll have to try this again with similar phones.


* Make sure to check out the Emerging Learning Design Conference, scheduled for June 3rd on the campus of Montclair State University.  The line-up of speakers is amazing and the price, which we’ll be announcing in a few days, is going to make the a can’t-miss event.  Go to the Registration page and sign up to get notified when we open conference registrations and you’ll get a discount code.