I’ve quit the Twitter

Originally posted to Tech Stuff.

Twitter

On September 24th 2023 I posted my last tweet to the Twitter (or X as it is called now). Since then I have not posted to the Twitter, or replied to any posts. I have retained my account though as I have an improbable hope that one day things might go back to the way they were. I think though that it unlikely.

I had found over the last few years that my engagement with Twitter was declining and that I was finding it less useful as a social networking tool. There were days and weeks when it was really useful and interesting, the LTHEChats or as a back channel at a conference, but most of the time it wasn’t really working for me.

Over the last few months though, after Elon Musk bought the Twitter, I have noticed that not only engagement continued to decline, but also the functionality of the site was starting to break down. Combine that with the increase in hate speech, right wing rhetoric; I knew it wouldn’t be long before I would leave, and I did so in September.

Twitter

I have been a fan of micro-blogging (as it was called back in the day) since 2007. Something I heard about on a podcast. I joined Twitter, like quite a few other people in March 2007.

This was my first tweet.

This was from my second day on Twitter…

In an effort to really understand the potential and power of a micro-blogging service such as Twitter, I made a conscious effort to use the service on a regular basis. Often I would be working, take a break, grab a coffee, and think oh I must post something to Twitter so would post I was drinking a cup of coffee. Now I like coffee, but it wasn’t long before I had a reputation for coffee drinking on Twitter. Something that has stuck ever since.

In 2007 I actually didn’t use Twitter that much that year, though I was using a different micro-blogging service called Jaiku. Jaiku was a microblogging social network and mobile app that was founded in Finland in 2006, a month before Twitter. It allowed users to post short messages, or “jaikus”, sharing their thoughts and opinions on all kinds of subjects. The main reasons I used Jaiku, was firstly the community. My community was on Jaiku, and that was where the conversation was. The second reason was that Jaiku supported SMS.

In the US you could send and receive tweets by SMS, but this was not supported in the UK. Jaiku did support SMS, and some members of my community preferred that medium for engaging with the service.

SMS was much bigger in the 2000s and since then has been generally replaced with messaging services and something called WhatsApp!

The SMS constraint of 140 characters was the reason why Twitter (and Jaiku) restricted their micro-messages to 140 characters.

Jaiku was acquired by Google in 2007, but Google failed to integrate it with its other products and services. It also stopped other people from signing up, and then killed the SMS integration. As a result, Jaiku’s user base dwindled, and the service was shut down in 2012.

Though well before then I had migrated back to the Twitter, as more and more people I knew from the educational community found and started engaging with Twitter.

2009 was the year that delegates at ALT-C discovered the Twitter! In 2008 there were roughly 300 tweets and about forty people tweeting, in 2009 the amount of tweeting went through the roof!

Over the next ten years I would use Twitter on an almost daily basis. I used it to post (social) updates, professional updates, share links. It was a great tool for adding a communication back channel at conferences. 

I liked using IFTTT to gather information on people’s tweeting. I used the tool myself to share Instagram posts.

A highlight for me was the #LTHEChat tweetchats. Though I didn’t participate every week, when there was an interesting topic, it was fun to engage with that community.

But over time things started to change.

I posted this tweet in October 2021

I think it was a combination of the algorithm, but also a lack of engagement in Twitter from my community, and probably importantly I wasn’t really posting anything of interest.

Over the next two years I found Twitter less and less interesting and less useful. There were occasional peaks of engagement and activity, but for the most part, for me, it was declining.

When Elon Musk bought out Twitter, things just got worse. Much of the functionality started to break down. Changes to the algorithm meant I was getting less engagement, but more extreme messages were appearing in my stream. 

In the end I had enough and I left. After posting nearly 63,000 tweets over sixteen years, it was time to call it a day.

I will admit to visiting the site now and again, but I am glad I left. Still not fully engaged with Threads and Bluesky as alternatives though.

e-Learning Stuff: Top Ten Blog Posts 2023

coffee
Image by David Schwarzenberg from Pixabay

This year I have written 89 posts on the blog. There were 92 posts in 2022, 113 blog posts in 2021. In 2020 I had written 94 blog posts. In 2019 I had written 52 blog posts which was up from 2018 when I only wrote 17 blog posts.

I decided when I got my new role in March 2019 that I would publish a weekly blog post about my week. I did this all across 2023 as well which added to the number of posts. I did once get asked if these week notes were popular, not really, but they are much more for me than for others. However, for the first time in the five years I have been doing week notes, one of them has made the top ten.. Interesting how so many old posts (more than ten years old) are in the top ten. Probably means I need to write better and more interesting blog posts.

The post at number ten asked the question, Hey Siri, are you real?

A really old post from 2008 was the ninth most popular post. Full Resolution Video on the PSP. Do people still use the PSP?

The blog post at number eight in the top ten is an old post from my series on how to use a VLE.  100 ways to use a VLE – #89 Embedding a Comic Strip. This one is still popular and is about embedding comic trips from online services into the VLE.

The seventh most popular post was from 2008, and asked the question, Can I legally download a movie trailer? One of the many copyright articles that I posted some years back. Things have changed since then, one of which is better connectivity which would allow you to stream content direct into a classroom, as for the legal issues well that’s something I am a little behind on the times though in that space.

At number six was a post on freakish occurrences, “million-to-one chances happen nine times out of ten”. One of my favourite quotes from Terry Pratchett is that “million-to-one chances happen nine times out of ten”. When something awful happens, or freakish, we hear news reporters say “it was a million-to-one chance that this would happen”.

Fifth place was Ten ways to use QR Codes which was not a post about ten ways to use QR codes.

The post at number four was a week note from 2019, Student Journey – Weeknote #08 – 26th April 2019.

The third most popular post was from 2009 and asked To Retweet or not to Retweet which was a post about retweeting on the Twitter.

The post at number two was from 2015, I can do that… What does “embrace technology” mean? was from the FE Area Reviews.

The most popular post in 2023 is one of the all time popular posts, The iPad Pedagogy Wheel. Published in 2013, this was number one for many years.. I re-posted the iPad Pedagogy Wheel as I was getting asked a fair bit, “how can I use this nice shiny iPad that you have given me to support teaching and learning?”. It’s a really simple nice graphic that explores the different apps available and where they fit within Bloom’s Taxonomy. What I like about it is that you can start where you like, if you have an iPad app you like you can see how it fits into the pedagogy. Or you can work out which iPads apps fit into a pedagogical problem.

Merry Christmas – Weeknote #251 – 22nd December 2023

I was travelling at the beginning of the week, spending time in London, Oxford and Cambridge.

It was a quieter week, what with the end of term for many in higher education, and many people in Jisc taking leave.

We had our Jisc Senior Education and Student Experience Group Meeting on Monday and worked on how the group will work moving forward, ensuring alignment with the similar research focussed group.

I had confirmation of my speaking slot at EDUtech Europe 2024, which takes place in October in Amsterdam.

Panel – The place where pedagogy meets technology: designing innovative learning spaces

  • Aligning physical and virtual spaces and technology with pedagogical approaches and teaching methods
  • Creating flexible spaces that accommodate diverse learning styles
  • The role of mobile devices and BYOD policies in shaping learning spaces

Undertook some more field work and research about campus and space.

Had an excellent meeting at UAL’s King Cross campus, including a short tour of their facilities.

Cylinders of excellence – Weeknote #250 – 15th December 2023

I had various meetings this week and spent time in our Bristol office, as well as working from home.

I wondered if silo working is another word for non-strategic working? People often complain about silo working and the resulting challenges that can arise. I think part of the reason why there are problems with duplication, conflict, and lack of communication, across silo working, is teams are working to their own objectives and aren’t necessarily working towards common objectives.

Silos
Image by marcson from Pixabay

The NSA in the US talks of silo working as cylinders of excellence. You can have outstanding or excellent teams, but not necessarily have an excellent organisation. See this blog post I wrote about that. I think I might expand on this on a future blog post.

stove espresso maker
Image by Karolina Grabowska from Pixabay

I attended the Adobe and Wonkhe Education Espresso event on supporting pedagogical development and innovation.

I had a meeting on licensing development and links to intelligent campus and student experience.

I had a meeting with organisers of on possible speaking opportunity and possible session ideas for EDUtech Europe 2024.

I had an Intelligent Campus meeting with the Honeywell PoC team at Jisc.

I also  had a meeting for planning a workshop on building a smart or an intelligent campus.

Had an informal discussion with colleagues in Jisc on learning spaces. I have been looking at how Jisc can support universities in the learning spaces space. What help and support do universities need, and what help and support do we want from Jisc. We also discussed the compromise that is a flexible learning space. Often, we see universities building flexibility into their learning spaces, as that is often seen as easier than building flexibility into curriculum design and timetabling.

Continued my work on a concept for supporting institutions in the smart campus space. This included reviewing the Higher Education Reference Model with an intelligent campus lens.

I recorded some content for an internal podcast. I used my Snowball microphone using Quicktime. I did a test recording, which sounded fine, and then did the actual recording. After sending it off I got some feedback that the audio recording was noisy. I checked my recording and there was a lot of interference. I had written a script for the recording, so it was quite easy to re-record the piece. This time though I used Garageband to record the podcast clip, and then checked that it sounded okay before sending it off.

Microphone
Image by rafabendo from Pixabay

I attended the UCISA Event – Digital poverty and digital capability – a vicious cycle?

Soaking – Weeknote #249 – 8th December 2023

The week started off with rain, and the some more rain. I worked mainly in Bristol this week, but also took some leave. On Monday I headed off to our Bristol office, in the rain. There were flooded roads and then some.

Had a meeting about a potential platform for the intelligent campus elevation tool I have been scoping. We also discussed the potential of the platform for a learning spaces toolkit as well. I have some meetings next week about this idea as well. One of the key areas is ensuring it is matched to the Higher Education Reference Model (HERM), so have been looking at the HERM with an intelligent campus lens.

Though I have been working on the audio and video for the Leadership Masterclass – Operationalising your Strategic Vision recording, however I have had a cough which has made this challenging.

I had a few UCU meetings this week, I am on our UCU committee.

A bit chilly – Weeknote #248 – 1st December 2023

So the year is nearly over. This time last year I was in Berlin for a conference which felt very festive. This year I was mainly in chilly Bristol.

I had a few internal meetings and briefings this week.

I spent most of the week scoping and researching a possible intelligent campus elevation tool based on the concept of the Jisc FE Digital Elevation Tool.

I had my Q1 review this week. These weeknotes helped me complete the paperwork and discussions during the meeting.

I wrote a blog post about how I am not using the Twitter anymore.

I stopped using the Twitter in September. Though I still yet to delete my account, partly as I think one day, it might go back to what it was. Well one can dream. If I do look at the service, I come away disappointed and saddened.

Still Socially Acceptable

I stopped using the Twitter in September. Though I still yet to delete my account, partly as I think one day, it might go back to what it was. Well one can dream. If I do look at the service, I come away disappointed and saddened.

The last conference I really used Twitter was ALT-C 2023.

I have been using Twitter at the ALT conferences since I joined Twitter in 2007. In 2010 I had said about the Twitter

Overall from my experience, Twitter has really added value to conferences I have attended and made them more joined up and much more a social affair. It has helped to build a real community, especially at ALT-C.

This year, not so much.

There hadn’t been a huge amount of engagement on Twitter at ALT-C 2022 so I didn’t have huge expectations.

Much of the online discussion that took place at ALT-C 2023 this year was on a Discord server, but it still wasn’t at the levels that I have seen in previous years.

I have seen a continual decline in the engagement with conference backchannels. I do wonder why this is?

Time for breakfast – Weeknote #247 – 24th November 2023

No (real) travelling this week, as I spent much of the week working out of our Bristol office, which on some days was really quite busy.

On Tuesday I did a masterclass, Operationalising your Strategic Vision for colleagues at Jisc.

In this session we will go through one possible process of operationalising a strategic vision. We will review what the current thinking is on vision and strategy and how this applies to organisations, teams, and individuals. We will start to explore how you can bring in the relevant stakeholders and teams to drive success.  We will look at how to plan to build an effective operational responsive plan that will help to achieve your strategic vision. There will be an introduction to the strategic lens and how it can be used to ensure coherency across a business.

A lot of the talk was based on the following blog post Why does no one care about my digital strategy? As well as this briefing paper that Lawrie Phipps and myself wrote back in 2018, Delivering digital change: strategy, practice and process. I also used a lot of thinking from this book, Good Strategy, Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters. I also worked in this blog post on breakfast.

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast” is a famous quote from management consultant and writer Peter Drucker. 

It seemed to go well, and I got a lot of positive feedback. So much so we think we might run it again early next year.

I watched the UCISA Enterprise Architecture: a culture, not a project recording from last week. Well I say I watched, what I actually did was go for a walk and listen to it. I found it really interesting and relevant to some work I am doing at Jisc.

Had a meeting with SURF about the smart campus landscape. Range of similar and interesting activities happening in Netherlands in the smart campus space.

Undertook some training in our revamped finance system.

Still not using the Twitter. I will admit to visiting the site now and again, but I am glad I left. Still not fully engaged with Threads and Bluesky.

Attending Learning Places Scotland 2023

Last  week I was up in Scotland in a rather damp (and cold) Glasgow for Learning Places Scotland 2023.

I had attended Learning Places Scotland 2022 and had delivered back then a talk entitled How will the growth in online learning shape the future design of learning spaces and our campuses?

This year I had submitted a talk, on building the intelligent campus.

Universities and colleges spend billions on their campuses, yet they are frequently underutilised and are often a frustrating experience for students. In this session, James Clay will describe the campus of the future. How does a traditional campus become a smart campus? What are the steps to make a smart campus, an intelligent campus? The intelligent campus builds on the smart campus concept and aims to find effective ways to use data gathered from the physical estate and combine it with learning and student data from student records, library systems, the virtual learning environment (VLE) and other digital systems. This session will describe what data can be gathered, how it can be measured and explore the potential for enhancing the student experience, achieving net zero, improve efficiency, and space utilisation. It will demonstrate and explain to the delegates what the exciting future of the intelligent campus. James will also ask delegates to consider the ethical issues when implementing an intelligent campus as well as the legal requirements.

This is a variation of a talk I have given many times before on what we understand by the term intelligent campus. How you can evolve your estate from the non-smart or dumb campus, the smart campus, through to what turns your smart campus to an intelligent campus.

It also covered some of the challenges and issues that can arise when building an intelligent campus. This included data challenges, proprietary systems which are closed to data inputs and outputs, silo working, data challenges, ethics, privacy, legal, data literacy, and other issues.

We had some interesting questions after my presentation alongside my co-presenters.

I attended a range of other sessions as well. This event covers all of Scottish education from primary to university. There is a real focus on schools, but still there is something that other sectors can learn from the school sector, even if it is just benchmarking where your learning spaces are.

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