It kind of bugs me when I read posts like this and I have concerns about the thinking behind posts like this and this. But before anyone thinks I am taking potshots at these worthy and well meaning folks, think about my point of view here...
... where if face to face is such a big deal, why bother reading and interacting with someone who you are almost certainly never going to meet? Isn't that the whole point about the potential of social media? Connecting to new people, new ideas, collaborating on the basis of shared interests - it doesn't need a f2f meetup to make it all "real", does it?
My chain of thoughts started last year when this sentence from a Steve Dembo post created an itch in my brain:
Warlick looking around the room during the first session and commenting that he was sitting in the middle of his aggregator!
I know that my aggregator would be impossible to ever assemble in one room. I then read a brain teasing post from Ryan Bretag that spawned a comment that has evolved into this post. My parting sentence there went like this:
The way I see it, edubloggers (or tweeters or ningers) are all parts of a very complex ecosystem and how we interact with each other and the conversations we have without ever meeting are more important to re-shaping our worldview and impacting the students and colleagues we work with.
Then last week, I read this post from Lisa Parisi and almost left a comment. Don't get me wrong - I really enjoyed and valued her reflective post. There were only a few sentences there that tie in with this topic.
I knew going to NECC that I was most excited about meeting face to face people in my network. What I didn't realize was just how important that face to face contact is. Jo McLeay is someone I follow in twitter and communicate with at times. But meeting at NECC got us talking about a collaboration. Now we have a plan for a really cool project that will fit in nicely with our geography unit in the fall. I doubt this would have happened without meeting f2f.
(Full disclosure - I have actually met Jo McLeay f2f. But it didn't alter my perspective of her because she is such an authentic writer.) But my thoughts were not coherent (maybe still not) and then Lisa left a comment on my blog and I thought any comment from me might come across as being inconsiderate and dismissive of her point of view. But essentially, it was the same thing that really bothered me. There seems to be an extremely high value placed on a face to face meeting with someone in your network. I'm just wondering if we as adults are struggling with a new paradigm shift - from the f2f workplace (known as school) to the real world where people can and do communicate and collaborate without ever meeting in person. The paranoia in my mind is fuelled by the dawning possibility that maybe online networked educators will place a higher value on the writings, ideas and resources from someone they have "actually met f2f" and ignore others. This was confirmed by a worrying comment on Lisa's post from Susan RoAne, author/professional speaker (her description, not mine) who wrote:
Your enthusiasm and energy are palpable. As a former teacher, I read your blog with some envy. During my days in the classroom, there was no internet to connect us before we met face to face with colleagues who were strangers.
As author of the forthcoming, Face to Face: How To Reclaim the Personal Touch in a Digital World, you validated the premise of my book. With all our online, digitals options, connecting in- person is in-credible.
So, the whole purpose of the internet is to connect people who will inevitably meet face to face? That would make global collaborative projects for students kind of pointless, wouldn't it? Maybe, hermits like me only deserve an aggregator of under a dozen feeds.
Anyway, sort of proving my point just in time, this Tweet from Dean Groom popped up and sort sums up why I think that placing that there is a problem with over-emphasising the f2f interactions that evolve from our networks. For me, meeting someone who I "follow" f2f is the cherry on the cake but it is definitely not the actual cake.