So yesterday all of a sudden my blog stopped accepting comments. All of my posts were set to comments closed. No idea how it happened, but it did. Was I hacked? Did the configuration somehow get blown up? Things seemed to be OK otherwise, but the idea that all of a sudden something like comments could just be turned off is very strange. This issue came at a time when I really didn’t have the cycles to really figure it out. When I started to investigate it I jumped on IM hoping to find someone to help … no one there. So instead of sending an email to my much smarter friends I tried asking twitter. As one would assume, it worked. Within a few minutes a former student of mine Twittered the solution. Amazing and wonderful! That kind of speed is new.
To me this is the story of web 2.0 that is emerging — the speed at which connected communities can influence change has become astonishing. Would I have gotten my answer without Ben’s Twitter help? Sure … much, much later. The idea that there is a network there to help at 11:00 PM is pretty amazing. This is a reason why the State College PD and PSU itself started Tweeting — they recognize that working within targeted, connected, and interested communities works.
If I pull back from this I can begin to see interesting opportunities in the teaching and learning world. For the most part, classes don’t emerge as communities unless something very special happens. Each semester is different and it is completely unplanned (but hoped for). One semester the thing just clicks and others not so much. The results from the last class I taught were in line with this — Twitter worked. If we tried it again it may or may not. What I am seeing though is that Twitter has the power to bind communities in ways that are weirdly refreshing to me. When groups of people decide to join and participate they are creating new opportunities to create shared experiences … that tells me they are going to create a shared awareness with each other. This creates a situation where people can quickly come to the aide of each other and create change very quickly. I see this on Facebook every now and then, but Twitter has taken over the title of community creator for me.
So thank you Twitter … more specifically, thank you Ben!