TL;DR Version: This post was in response to Learning Event One in the #WalkMyWorld Project. I thoroughly detail my thinking and motives as I build, develop, and iterate on my digital front door…this blog.
Throughout my life I’ve moved often, and had the privilege of connecting with some cool people, and then moving on far too quickly. Most of the people I grew up with in South Jersey I rarely see anymore. The good friends that I had at the University of Delaware, UMass, and during my years teaching in Springfield and Chicopee have for the most part left my life. One aspect that changes these behaviors is the influx of social media and networking that connects us.
I think it is the connections that I’ve lost over much of my life that fuels my desire to continually connect and share with others from now on. Now, when I meet, work, or connect with someone, the habit is to Google them, and connect on Facebook, Twitter, or (perhaps) Facebook. This has the potential to keep us somewhat in contact, and allow us to keep connected.
I also travel, present, and teach all over the U. S. When I put together a professional development session, I try to make sure that I’m available for participants far after the event has concluded. To make this goal a reality, I decided long ago that I wanted to make my materials, and access to me as easy as possible. I designed the front door to my digital world in a way as to make this as easy as possible. For this post, I’m considering my front door to my digital world to be this blog.
One Hub to Connect Everything
I have one spot, or one hub that I use to connect all of my spaces. That hub is this blog. I decided that I wanted to pay for a domain and host my own space. I also wanted to develop a brand (e.g., placing wiobyrne on everything) to make it easy to remember. My thinking is that friends, colleagues, and participants only need to remember to go to wiobyrne.com, @wiobyrne on Twitter, or firstname.lastname@example.org to find and contact me.
On wiobyrne.com, this blog, I routinely post about my work, distribute teaching materials, and share presentations. I made the decision that if I develop materials for my classes, or for a presentation, I would make these openly available on my website and share with everyone.
Keep the Connections Flowing
As I stated up above, I primarily use this website as my hub for everything. When I post content to my blog, I immediately share it out on Google+. I use a service (Friends+Me) to automatically post content from Google+ to Twitter and Facebook. I know that there are some people that believe that it’s not fair, or wise to automatically share content across sites, but for me it works.
I should also indicate at this point that there is a reason why I share the same content across these spaces. I’ve made the comment in the past that my identity is different across these three social networks…and that is still somewhat true. I do most of my connecting and socializing on Google+. My primary PLN exists on Google+. I also share my content immediately out on Twitter and Facebook. I tend not to get as much traction or connections on Twitter and Facebook for my posts…although that is slowly changing. Any comments and discussion that I do get on these outside social networks I pull back in to the original post on this site using the Comments Evolved plug-in.
My goal is to publish on my own site, and push my ideas out to everyone on the social networks that they use. If you’re on Twitter…awesome…I’m there. Facebook? Yeap…also there. Google+? Of course. Feel free to contact and communicate with me using whatever tool you’re comfortable with. This is my attempt at what the IndieWeb movement calls the Publish [on your] Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere (POSSE) model. The reason for this infrastructure is that I don’t want great discussion and dialogue to get lost on Google+, Facebook, Twitter, or beyond. Also…if one of these services goes down…I would lose everything. I know that as long as I pay for my bandwidth…I can hold on to a domain of my own.
This system is not perfect. I’ve been toying with Known and other services to fully utilize my own domain…and move closer to the IndieWeb ideals, but I’ve only got some much time…or experience. 🙂 For now, this model works for me…but I’m constantly tinkering.
Face-to-Face and Online Connections
As I stated up above, all materials should originate from the Hub (i.e., wiobyrne.com) and are shared out through the social networks. I also share out through the same avenues things that I read online that interest me. My thinking is that these other readings help give me some consideration of what is happening with literacy, technology, and education. These readings and links might help you as well.
When I work or present face-to-face, I’ll share the links and opportunities to connect with me at the beginning of our session. Typically when I present, I’ll include a slide that shows my blog address, and the social media accounts. I’ll even go in and show the specific blog post that includes all of the materials for my session. Most times I also record the session ahead of time and make this available on YouTube. I do this so participants can listen, think, and respond to points I’m making in the talk…and not worry about notes or getting lost. Let’s have a talk.
One relatively new tool that I have been using a ton of is Google Hangouts. This video chat service, especially the Google Hangout-on-Air allows me to livestream some video content and then automatically archive it to my YouTube channel. I have been using this tool more often as I try to close the loop between totally face-to-face and online connections.
The Process and Product are Never Complete
One thing to keep in mind is that I’m always tinkering and trying to improve my work process and product. I’m always reading Lifehacker, and trying to build a better engine. I’m also constantly iterating and critiquing my own web presence, especially this blog. In my mind I’ll never achieve perfection, but I’m also learning every day. As long as I keep posting this blog…I’m being successful.
Image CC BY-SA 2.0 opensourceway
Also published on Medium.