Cleaning the digital cobwebs

Regular readers of this blog know that I’ve gradually retreated from the kind of gung-ho online enthusiasm I had previously engaged in.  I still find much of value online, but I find myself either easily overwhelmed in spaces like Twitter or Facebook, and now, Quora, or not stimulated enough by blogs and other longer form digital media.  When I started considering a move to K-12, I expanded the number of K-12 oriented blogs and Twitter users I followed and I gradually reduced the number of Higher Ed media I follow.  I no longer read IHE or the Chronicle, and I’ve dropped many Higher Ed bloggers who write primarily about their lives as faculty and complain about various issues in Higher Ed.  I’m no longer interested (sorry folks).  There are a handful of people in that category that are interesting enough writers to keep me reading or write on a variety of different topics.

But there’s still some culling I need to do, and I’m going to look seriously at the Twitter and Facebook friends I have.  The benefit of Facebook, for me, is keeping up with far-flung high school, college, and graduate school friends, many of whose lives I’m interested in not just for personal reasons but for professional ones.  Amazingly, I have many friends involved in technology even when they started out as poets or history majors.  But I don’t need 350 people.  My feed gets clogged really quickly.

Twitter offers a lot of interesting ideas and links, but there, too, I have too many people I’m following.  Now that I know what I really benefit from the most, I can eliminate the people who post things of little value to me.  I do like to be diverse in the kinds of people I follow, but I don’t want to have to cull through tons of unimportant or uninteresting tweets to find the good stuff.

I think a lot of this, too, comes from having less time.  I have 15-20 minutes increments where I can pop in and check my reader or Twitter.  I’m always looking for things that I can use in my own teaching as well as things I can share with my teachers.  I can’t waste the limited time I have.

I’m also trying to streamline many of my online practices.  The reason I liked delicious so much was that I had an easy way, via my browser, to save a link and then I had an RSS feed going to a page I curate for my teachers and the links also went to Twitter.   Some of that was, of course, for self-promotional purposes, back when I was trying to be a consultant, but now it’s so I can provide information to my colleagues quickly and easily.  I looked around the other day for an alternative to delicious and frankly, there isn’t anything I want to use.  Delicious is clean and easy, so until I get the word that it’s going to go down completely, I’m sticking with it.

But other accounts, I’m getting rid of.  I used to join every new Web 2.0 site that came down the pike.  Now, I wait to see if it’s worth it. 

Clearly, I’m keeping the blog, even if I read fewer blogs than before.  Unlike Twitter and Facebook, which have become like giant parties where half the people are drunk and half the people are people I don’t know, the blog feels like a quiet dinner party I’m hosting at my house where friends I’ve invited are here and a few random folks drop by to say hello.  I need that intimate feel more than ever now.  So here I go, off to reduce my connections, maybe down to the Dunbar number.

5 Replies to “Cleaning the digital cobwebs”

  1. I LOVE the blog-as-dinner-party analogy, and it’s exactly how I feel about my own blog these days. Like you, I used to sign up for every Web 2.0 or Ning community that seemed interesting, but now, I’m trying to be much more selective, and that must include unsubscribing myself from communities, listserves, and anything else I delete as soon as it comes up.

  2. So if you have on “friend” who “clogs” your feed because they post every two seconds or so, is there anyway to avoid reading that set of posts? other than unfriending them?

    I’ve also been overwhelmed by Facebook, and that’s with a small number of friends, so mere culling isn’t the solution. I think my problem is the lack of any ranking of the information, except what people set themselves. I’d like to hear what my far-flung friends are up to, but I don’t need to know what one friend is doing every minute.

  3. BJ, have you tried “hiding” that friend? Their updates won’t show up in your feed anymore, but you can still visit their profile and see all of their activity from time to time.

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