Monday, April 11, 2011

Brand, Un-brand, Re-brand

Companies do it all the time. They change their logo, their website, the look of their packaging. Sometimes we, the "audience," respond positively. Sometimes (think New Coke vs. Coke Classic) we do not. I have always been of the "if it isn't broke, don't fix it" mindset, but I am questioning the 21st-century-ness of that attitude. To go mucking about, changing things just for the sake of trying something that might or might not "work out" when status quo was, well...comfortable enough... is a risky proposition.
Changing something that is not really "broken" could be:
(a) a waste of time and energy
(b) a complete and total failure
(c) a fabulous success
(d) a learning experience

What if we reframed our ideas about concepts like "waste of time," "failure," and "success?" What if we decided that (d) a learning experience = (d) all of the above?
How would that impact the way we work? How would it impact the way we teach?

I think this is one of the core values of what we often refer to as "21st century learning." In an ideas and innovation-based economy, we don't thrive on "it's not broke." This is a big shift for me. Change makes me nervous. I feel most comfortable when things seem stable. People like me don't invent wonderful, crazy new things; we make do with what we have.

These thoughts are arising as I ponder the future of my personal brand. Believe me, I am aware that "edtechworkshop" isn't anything earth-shatteringly interesting as far as teacher-brands go. However, I have been blogging for over three years now. I have subscribers, and I fear "losing" them were I to move my site. (Yes, even as I write it, I realize how silly this is.) This feeling of wanting to "hold on" to something, even as I realize the total pointlessness of it (like holding onto life itself) is what keeps me from feeling free to experiment, reinvent myself and play around. In other words, it limits my ability to learn and grow.

According to personal-branding guru, Dan Schawbel, your online presence will replace your resume in 10 years. I disagree with his assessment that it will take ten more years. I think that for the best jobs, the most sought-after positions, a strong online presence is already more important than a resume. Think about it. Where do we go to find things? Where do we go, more and more, to find people? We go to google. And if you're not google-able, you won't be found.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Garden of Tweetin'

I was asked to "intro twitter" for my cousin and her friend. I've been meaning to write a twitter blog post for a while now, so I thought I would gather some favorite resources and share a few thoughts.

Here is a helpful intro for educators from Langwitches Blog: So, What About This Twitter Thing?

Beyond the most basic intro, to really "do twitter" you have to just go ahead and do it. Twitter is a garden of sorts. To plant a garden, at some point, you have to get in there and get your hands dirty. There's no "right way/wrong way"...there is just your way which you can only figure out by figuring it out. You can read guidebooks, ask an expert, learn from your mistakes... eventually you come to realize that, with attention and care, you have gardened your way to a decent little patch that makes YOU happy.

But that doesn't mean that MY garden- with it's marigolds and tomatoes, usually in need of weeding- would be the right garden for YOU. For example, if you were planting a vegetable garden, you would be likely to choose vegetables that would be useful and valuable to you and your family. It's the same with your twitter garden. The power of twitter lies in the opportunity to build a useful and valuable network, of like-minded (or different-minded) interesting people. My twitter network consists mainly of educators. Many educators on twitter use the term PLN- personal learning network and use twitter for their own lifelong learning.

I'll happily share with you how I manage twitter today (which might change tomorrow or next week). I currently like Tweetdeck for these reasons:

-I like to be able to view multiple columns showing different streams. It's easy to add and change them, too.

-I like the "edit then retweet" capability which the web RT doesn't offer.

-I tweet from multiple accounts, and that is very easy to do in Tweetdeck where I can be logged-in as more than one tweeter. (I have also tripped myself up this way by tweeting from the wrong account. Oops!)

Just in case you were wondering, what I don't like about Tweetdeck is the newer "" feature which lets you go over 140 characters. It just doesn't sit right with me- the whole genre of twitter is 140 characters or less. I have disabled it on my Tweetdeck. Go to "settings" and uncheck "Use for sending long updates."

A few more thoughts:

•Filtering the mad, mad world of too-much-information is a high art. Again, everyone does it differently BUT (since you asked my opinion)- don't habitually re-tweet articles you haven't read or at least skimmed. Being a good filter, and only sharing what you think is truly worthwhile and relevant builds your credibility.

•Follow celebrities if it makes you happy and adds something to your twitter stream, but that's not really the "twitter thing." Twitter is about having lots of different interesting people to talk to and listen to. Choose who you follow thoughtfully, just as you would decide what to plant in your garden. For more on this idea, read this great post, "Curating People" by self-proclaimed "mayor of the internet" ijohnpederson.

Because I know you really want to know, these are the celebrities I follow (at least right now)-

Dr. Wayne Dyer

Sir Ken Robinson

The Dalai Lama

Dan Millman (author of The Way of the Peaceful Warrior)

None of them follow me back. They also don't tweet much and, most likely, someone else tweets for them anyway.

•Be yourself. If it's interesting to you, share it. Follow real people who interest you, and add something to the conversation. Give and take.

One last analogy :) -- Think of twitter as a giant cocktail party. Who do you choose to talk to? The spammer who is just there to sell something or get you to join an MLM scheme? The self-promoter who talks incessantly about herself? The person who has nothing original to say and only repeats what he has just heard someone else say? Or the interesting person who listens and adds something intelligent to the mix? Be that person.

Great minds must think alike. Just after I wrote this, Silvia Tolisano shared with me a new presentation she created on personal learning networks, also using the idea of the garden as a point of reference.