Reflecting on my use of Social Networks

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Have you ever had that experience in which you read something or hear something that perfectly explains an aspect of your life?  Maybe you hadn’t even noticed it, or perhaps you had struggled to describe it.  And then, BOOM… it’s all made clear.  I had one of those experiences when I read this piece written by Jeff Utecht.

In the blog post, Utecht describes the lessons that he teaches students about differentiating their personal online lives from their (future) professional ones.  He uses the example of a Facebook page as a wonderful personal page, that isn’t the right place to host one’s resume or professional achievements.  Utecht argues that these belong better on Twitter and blogs.  I couldn’t agree more.

I started my Twitter account in November of 2007, just a few months after Scripted Spontaneity started up.  From the beginning the purpose was to share what I know and think about education reform and the current state of public science education in America.

I had already setup a Facebook account because it seemed like a good way to experience what was popular with my students.  At first nearly every friend was a student or former student, mainly due to the novelty of a teacher using Facebook.  As the size of the Facebook community increased, I began to connect with old friends from school, work, and mutual friends.

And that is when the paths diverged, although I didn’t consciously notice it at the time.  I began to use Facebook for communicating and sharing with friends and students, and use Twitter to build my Professional Learning Network.  I see a lot of merit in this dichotomy: it is fairly easy to wall of my students from my friends on Facebook, and I could build a reputation online with colleagues without Facebook “indiscretions” getting in the way.

It wasn’t until I read Jeff’s blog post that I recognized the natural separation that had taken place, and appreciated the reason that the world needs both Facebook and Twitter.  And, by the way, if you haven’t read Jeff’s book “Reach“, you need to do so.  Now.  Really.

I would add one point, though.  I use the Kipdola Twitter Sync plugin for Facebook that allows specially tagged updates on Twitter to be automatically posted on Facebook as well.  After all, there are times when I don’t want to restrict my wit and insight to just one network.