Real People Hatch Out Of Eggs

I wanted to wait a little before writing anything about my time at #ontsm.  So much happened, and I needed a little time to put some perspective on my weekend.

I think what I kept realizing during the course of the Friday night tweetup, Saturday’s think tank and things that I have read after the event was how human people behind twitter avatars are.

The first time this one became evident was when I was talking about fencing and bluegrass music with Andy Forgrave.  In the back of my mind I was thinking how happy I was to not be talking shop after a week of teaching.  I was also happy to see such a human side of a person whom I only really know through typed words.  He told me awesome stories and we laughed a lot.

That first interaction set the tone for Friday and Saturday.  I realized that all of the people that I interact with online are really human and really nice.

On Saturday, I had the pleasure of sitting with a Pearson sales rep, Mark.  Contrary to what people bashing the weekend might think, he was human too… and he was nice, not a corporate robot sent to dupe naive teachers.

Eventually the big question came up.  How can Pearson get in on the conversations happening online?  How do they get an “in”.  Given the mental space I was in, all I could think of was relationships.  You’ve got to be human.  Don’t sell to people, relate to them.  Make friends.  Be nice.

I mentioned to him how cool it was that the people in the room do send each other stuff.  They’ll send great content to each other because they think the recipient will like it.  My advice to them was simple.  Get to know them.  Send Forgrave a cool fencing article.  Send Heidi a new Chris Hadfield video.  Send me the name of a good bike shop. (No seriously please to this.  I’m running out of options, and I want new wheels.)

Make friends.  Be nice.  

One day (maybe not soon), you’ll have formed an online relationship.  Then a conversation can start.  I think that’s the kind of business relationship that I want.  A company that’s willing to spend time with me, get to know me, and find some common ground.

When I got home late last night I read a lot of what had transpired after/outside of the Pearson think tank, and it humanized people even more.  People’s words (the positive and the negative) made me realize how sacred some hold this online space.  Their words made me realize how much this space matters to some.  Their words made me see that the matrix was actually made up of humans not just 140 character blips and ideas.

When we talk about social media and kids, there’s a lot of talk about digital footprint and protecting yourself.  With the exception of cyberbullying, people rarely talk about how online interactions are actually human conversations.  While there is the occasional “watch what you say”, that is seldom attached to the notion that the people that receive your words are real, flesh and blood humans.

I’m wondering how I can help my students understand THAT in an authentic way similar to what I experienced this weekend at #ontsm.

Ideas?

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