A Month of Plus

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Often it feels as if the discussions around being a connected educator resort to being a part of this or that community or signing up to a particular platform. For example, many argue that all educators should be on Twitter. When I think about my connected activities, I exist in a number of spaces, each with a different level of commitment and engagement. David White and Alison Le Cornu capture this with their idea of digital resident and visitor.

What is interesting is that beyond the commitment and balance between personal and professional, each application often offers a different set of features and affordances. Take Twitter readwriterespond  for example, allows such things as:

  • Post a message of 140 characters
  • Connect with ideas using hashtags and.people using handles
  • Add additional material, such as images and links

Although these features are continually tweaked, from adding an algorithm to the feed to the new functionality in the form of moments. What is interesting is that overtime the way these features are used changes and morphs. From an educational point of view, there has been a move to more serious and professional consumption, with this there has been a rise in automated engagement, while some conversations have been somewhat silenced with the rise of so-called ‘attack dogs’. See David Hopkins’ post for an example of a critique. In addition, I have changed both personally and professionally. Personally, I feel that I have developed an extensive network with different connections in different spaces. Although this is a positive, it has changed the way I engage with my feed. I also use other means to find posts and information. Professionally, I have become more mindful of my presence, especially what impact it might have with the various schools and teachers who I work with. One of my mainstays has been sharing.

As I read in other places I use Twitter as my first place to share. This month I decided to mix things up and change to Google+. Doug Belshaw is always talking about workflows, bringing in some different, junking what may not work anymore. I was interested in what would happen to my workflow if I had to junk Twitter. I understand that their are copies, such as Mastadon social, but I was particularly interested in what would happen if I moved to a completely new platform altogether. the differences.

So here is a summary of my experiences of moving in part to another space:

Positives

  • Longer Explanations: With the limit of 140 characters lifted, I started writing longer elaborations on my thoughts and reflections. I also included a quote for most posts. I have been doing this for a while with Diigo and then my newsletter.
  • More Thought Out: I found myself questioning what I posted on Google Plus. For some reason I am happy to post more frivolous content to Twitter, where the focus on summarising and quotes made me think again.
  • Text Formatting: Although it is only *bold*, _italicise_ and -strikethrough-, this simple formatting offers some different possibilities, such as italicising quotes or bolding keywords.

Negative

  • Serendipitous Conversations: Although there were a few comments and conversations on Plus, it is not quite the same as with Twitter. It would seem to have a smaller serendipity surface. There was neither the breadth or depth that can come with Twitter.
  • Connections and Communities: One aspect that stood out within Google Plus was the lack of connections. Don’t get me wrong, I have plenty of people in my Circles. However, it feels like there are more people on Twitter than there are on Plus. In addition to this, it would seem that people spend their time on Plus within Communities. The problem with this is that there are so many different communities. This can make it hard to work out where to share exactly.
  • Multiple Identities: Another point of confusion that Plus adds to the mix is that people often have multiple Identities, each with their own purpose and intent. Therefore, it can be a challenge when tagging people in a post as it is not always clear which account to share with.

So that was my month of residence in Google Plus. It definitely left me thinking about some of the challenges in moving between different spaces. So what about you? What have been your experiences associated with Google Plus? What would you miss without Twitter? As always, comments and perspectives welcome.


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Aaron Davis

I am an Australian educator supporting schools with the integration of technology and pedagogical innovation. I have an interest in how together we can work to make a better world.

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1 thought on “A Month of Plus

  1. Hi Aaron,
    I’ve used G+ on and off since it started. It never really became sticky for me. I did spend a lot of time in a community there for #ds106 and have had most use out of G+ in communities.
    I found that the interface annoyed me quite a bit, it was hard to collect (favourite or bookmark) posts. +ing posts in communities did not collect them anywhere and digging out a link took several clicks. It seems that plus, like some other social networks, want to keep you in plus.
    I am a little more hopeful about http://micro.blog on the twitter replacement front, enough to back it on kickstarter anyway.

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