#DigPINS has caused me to reflect on my humble beginnings on the social Internet. I joined Facebook in 2007 and started a Twitter account in 2010, in the middle of my graduate program in library and information science. I joined Facebook to creep on people I met in college. I joined Twitter to connect with other librarians and info science people as I prepared to enter the job market. My professors, my mentors, and my classmates spent a lot of time way back then debating what our online presence should be and what our role was as librarians both to contribute to a learning network as well as what it took to be curators of online networks. It’s interesting reflecting on these early days of the social Internet in today’s current times and seeing how the tension has evolved.
I created a separate Twitter account to participate in #DigPINS, and so have been replicating my PLN to some extent, with a bit more attention to building a more professional network. My process is the same as when I built my first Twitter PLN though: to search #hashtags that will lead me to conversations I want to potentially be a part of, like #critlib (critical librarianship). I got into the habit in graduate school of looking up authors of articles I liked on the Twitters, and then following them to connect to their networks. I also look to see if they have blogs I can bookmark and will occasionally give them shout-outs on Twitter to let them know I admire their work and/or at least am reading their blog. At conferences, I will often look folks up on Twitter using conference hashtags and start following them to stay connected or to start a connection after the conference. I’m spending a lot of time scrolling through Twitter accounts of professionals I admire to see who they retweet and mention to find additional folks. I feel lucky that librarians and information science professionals normalized networking via social media way back when.
I was waiting to see if Seaman would mention echo chambers in Personal Learning Networks: Knowledge Sharing as Democracy, which she finally did, “It’s also important to include a range of voices in a PLN. Incorporating individuals with diverse opinions avoids the risk of the network becoming an ‘echo chamber’, where dominant opinions are ‘echoed’ back to network members. This can obscure alternate viewpoints and prevent learning from taking place.”
I was a bit put off by this article because I feel it simplifies 1) the work of Sherry Turkle and 2) echo chambers.
As we know, it’s much easier said than done to avoid an echo chamber in developing our PLNs, especially given the algorithms of today’s social media platforms. I’m going to keep thinking about this because I have a lot of thoughts still forming.