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Distributed Thoughts

Distributed Thoughts

I really appreciate those learning moments when different lines from assorted sources come to your head. It's as if they were claiming for your mind to stop and make sense out of those ideas before they become a mental traffic jam.

As I write this, key nodes in my Twitter network are reflecting and posting. As much as there has been talk of Twitter being a procrastinating tool, we must remember distraction is something coming from within. Some people claim they even focus better while on Twitter.

Now to the post proper.

Let me jot down the ideas that seem to resonate with my learning today.
Networks vs Communities
How can we define them? We probably talk about different things while using those terms. Have you noticed a recent use of the word 'Twitter' meaning network? I think we are experiencing something we can clearly frame as new, but we cannot yet describe properly. Then, the word Twitter comes in handy simply because it reassures us we are not bringing connotations from the words network or community, which have been applied to so many kinds of entities before the Internet. This new Twitter-enabled networked way of learning together is still rather messy to describe. So far for Twitter, let it be messy. I think that on Jennifer's post today, we have reached an interesting learning moment. Way beyond 'Twitter is the silliest thing'. Those comments can only be written by people engaged, networked and who have been using a tool long enough before talking about it.

I think we really should be asking ourselves what we mean when we use the words network and community. My point of view on this is a linguistic one, you may say; but what do I know, I am a language teacher! One way of approaching a definition is to apply a bit of componential analysis as viewed by Geoffrey Leech. In other words, what semantic components are we including in our use of those two words? I'm sure a reflection on this can be worth the time.
For example,
(make your mental plus and minus signs on this multiple choice, as you would apply them to network or community)
Communication venue: f2f, IP voice, chat, blog
Contact frequency: daily, sparingly, if needed only
How much is shared: very personal feelings (e.g. a relative's loss), a blend of interests, only professional/learning level
How are they formed?: Spontaneously, by an organiser, a blend of both.

I could go on listing semantic components; however that is not the point. Words like community and network will mean different things to all of us depending on our experience from them.
Meaning and sense are drawned from distributed sources. Just one example:
(To be read in reverse chronological order)

Bud Hunt budtheteacher Depth/breadth. Today/tomorrow/yesterday. Creating yet another "this is the one" wiki. These are all the same struggle. I think.
Cathy Nelson cathyjo @fceblog I agree wholeheartedly Twiiter has defintely stretched my comfort zone and made me try things I might not otherwise try-w/new frnds
Bud Hunt budtheteacher @fceblog: You should be writing this blogpost . . . well said.
Claudia Ceraso fceblog I'm not so fascinated by how fast things go here in Twitter,but how the notion of place and closeness has been altered. Classtime anytime!
Claudia Ceraso fceblog Time... quality time for learning is something overlooked I think. New tools do not teach us. Our reflection on a sustained use of them, yup
Claudia Ceraso fceblog @budtheteacher Got it! Remember when you said this about your new job? "2. Take our time and do it right." Hey-that was as short as a tweet
Bud Hunt budtheteacher @fceblog: I'm all ears.
Bud Hunt budtheteacher @shareski: As did I. So perhaps we're on the same page. Thanks for clarifying. @chrislehmann: Yes - history is essential.
Claudia Ceraso fceblog @budtheteacher. We're synced today. You are probably right about Twitter (hope you post it). I remember now a line from you -give me a sec.
Dean Shareski shareski @budtheteacher..by yesterday I meant it figuratively...good stuff happened years ago as well and still requires our attention.
Bud Hunt budtheteacher @fceblog: You've got the gist of my point.
Bud Hunt budtheteacher I think I'm providing a clear example of why/how Twitter fails at deeper meaning. I'll write or talk this idea up more.
Claudia Ceraso fceblog @chrislehmann @shareski I think @budtheteacher tweet refers to covering distance fast when we should go deeper.
Chris Lehmann chrislehmann @budtheteacher History is so important. The past has the benefit of perspective. The future is too easily idealized.
Dean Shareski shareski @budtheteacher...how bout a post...most influential posts...I could point to stuff you wrote 2 years ago...yesterday had some good stuff too
Claudia Ceraso fceblog @budtheteacher Content is valuable if I can relate it to my learning stage. My mind is not concerned with new vs old per se.
Claudia Ceraso fceblog @budtheteacher I imagine. I remember taking a note of it in the chatroom. (And I *did save that ;-)
Bud Hunt budtheteacher Is yesterday's content as valuable as today's? I worry that we're in a big hurry to see the next things - without digging deep into the old.
Bud Hunt budtheteacher @fceblog: That is a pity - I'm fascinated by those type of conversations.
Claudia Ceraso fceblog @budtheteacher Pity. There was a nice discussion on networks vs communities -whatever makes them different.
Bud Hunt budtheteacher @fceblog: He didn't. I asked - was curious to check in, too.
Claudia Ceraso fceblog @budtheteacher Thank you. I'm also catching up here. Trying to find today's lunch -too fast for me. Perhaps Dean did not record it.
Bud Hunt budtheteacher @fceblog: Not live. Sorry. Should've been more specific - I'm watching yesterday's news. Today.
Claudia Ceraso fceblog @budtheteacher Is that live now? It's off air to me.
Bud Hunt budtheteacher Watching Darren @ MB Edubloggercon. Thanks be to UStream. http://tinyurl.com/2dz3an

These tweets were sorrounded (for lack of a better word) by:
-Twitter Direct Message
-a shared Gdoc
-Back to Twitter
-A quick dash to Bud's blog to find this post and quote a line
-Back to Twitter
-direct email Bud to me
-direct answer + chat invite
-Thank you note via Gchat
And I set to write this post.
Irony: Bud has been in my Skype for months and we are both online. Whyever didn't we start there? No answer. It just worked that way.

Or perhaps this is a possible answer: Our thoughts play hopscotch on the web.
Is this *the* way? For our purposes, it seems to work well. Fine. My question is: why should our students do the same?

So much more bouncing on my mind about this. I'd much rather hear your thoughts at this point.

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