Our school district continues to adopt new 2.0 tools and give students a greater online voice. A lot of excitement comes with the introduction of these new ways to share what we know. As we roll out these tools at the elementary level, we spend a lot of time talking about online safety and etiquette. Digital Citizenship, after all, is one of the key ideas of the NETS*S.
And unfortunately, danah boyd’s recent audience hadn’t gotten the Digital Citizenship lesson when, at Web 2.0 Expo a few days ago, the conference organizers placed a large Twitterwall displaying live Tweets prominently behind her onstage. Unable to see what others were saying about her and her content, she felt the audience slip away from her and into their own cycles of negativity, a sort of mob mentality focused directly on her.
Backchanneling, or the process of giving live commentary on a face-to-face presentation, it was used to great effect at the SLJ Summit this fall and has, for me, been a real benefit. I like hearing the Big Ideas emerging from other sessions and feel it gives me a more holistic sense of the value of the conference. And in LibraryLand, the Tweets tend to be thoughtful, if not plain old complimentary.
So danah’s experience (you can view her keynote here, though the Twitterwall is not represented in the video) shook up many of us, and we engaged in a passionate impromptu conversation on Twitter. Buffy summarizes both danah’s experience and our conversation on her blog. Please take a look.
And after you have, take a moment to think about these questions (Buffy also has some thoughts for you to consider):
- What Web etiquette lessons have we not yet taught well enough in our K-12 environments so that this can be minimized in the future?
- The audience that Tweeted most likely had their real names affiliated with their Twitter account, so we can’t really chalk up this behavior to the oft-referenced idea of online anonymity. How can we help our students recognize, as Steve Dembo often says, that their online life is their “New Permanent Record”? Could this situation be a teachable moment for our students to practice empathy?
- Many of us, in some point in our careers, will sit on a conference planning committee. How did the physical placement of the Twitterwall screen play into the outcome danah experienced? Would moving the Twitterwall so it no longer shared the stage with the keynote have changed the tone of the experience?
- Before this month’s AASL conference in Charlotte, the AASL Forum listserv had a passionate discussion of live blogging or Tweeting from sessions. Some saw it as a way to compliment the speaker, other speakers found it rude and a sign of inattentiveness to the moment. I have to say that in my session in Charlotte, someone sat right up front and was clicking on her cell phone the whole time. The nerve! I thought, in my best Nathan Detroit accent. It was only afterwards, when I skimmed the Tweets tagged #aasl2009 in Twitter, that she had thoughtfully Tweeted what she saw as my most meaningful ideas. It really helped me see where my presentation had resonated. But if such behaviors hinder you as a presenter, should you have the right to request that people close their laptop lids and put their cell phones away?
Oh, yeah. And Happy Thanksgiving. :)