Clyde Street

Learning, Teaching, Performing


Vicarious Learning and Reciprocal Altruism

I follow 257 people on Twitter and am moving towards 500 tweets. Whenever I access Twitter I find a treasure trove of links and discussions. Twitter has accelerated for me the connectedness that Stephen Downes offers in his work. My access to Twitter, Stephen’s work and my aggregation of blog posts has transformed my reading, thinking and practice (CCK08 was my tipping point). Leigh Blackall‘s arrival as a work colleague has added to this momentum.

It has led me to think how vicarious learning (ambient awareness) can promote reciprocal altruism.

This post is a twenty-four hour snapshot of some of the sharing that came through my personal learning environment.

On Sunday I came across a link to Tom Davenport’s post about Forwarding is the New Networking. I checked in to Twitter a little later to find Typeboard‘s (1,011 tweets) link to Online Content Plagiarism at its Best.

Shortly after reading that article I came across Malinka‘s (1,863 tweets) tweet about tag clouds. This post reminded me very much of Rose Holley‘s observations about tag fog.

Kate Caruthers (26,180 tweets) tweeted about Social Media 2009 and Beyond. (I caught up with Steve Wheeler’s Networked Naughties too.) Shortly after following up Kate’s lead I found some tweets from Alec Courosa (32,697 tweets) about his students including Kelsi McGillivray and Bradie Mann. They demonstrate wonderful social commitments to reflection and sharing. (In the process I found their shared a Prezi.) I think Alec’s students exemplify some of the characteristics discussed by John Sener in his review (via Harold Jarche 6,792 tweets) of Disrupting Class:

individualizing instruction, situational research— as a means for building alternative systems which truly are student-centered and utilize online learning technologies, but also individualize student inputs and outcomes while enhancing the teacher’s role in the process, while utilizing rigorous and flexible assessment methods.

I noticed a link to the European Graduate School in another tweet and read carefully the disclaimer at the bottom of the front page that included:

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Mark Drapeau (via Iggy Pintado 8956 tweets) provides some interesting insights about How to Win Friends and Twinfluence People. By coincidence I found a Graham Attwell (1.960 tweets) tweet drawing attention to Howard Rheingold’s (May 2009 post) Twitter Literacy. I have been following Howard Rheingold’s output since his guest appearance on CCK08. I liked his observations that:

  • I think successful use of Twitter means knowing how to tune the network of people you follow, and how to feed the network of people who follow you.
  • You have to tune who you follow. I mix friends who I know IRL (“in real life”) and whose whereabouts and doings interest me, people who are knowledgeable about a field that interests me, people who regularly produce URLs that prove useful, extraordinary educators, the few who are wise or funny.
  • When it comes to feeding my network, that comes down to putting out the right mixture of personal tweets (while I don’t really talk about what I had for lunch, the cycles of my garden, the plums falling from my tree, my obsession with compost and shoepainting do feature in my tweetstream), informational tidbits (when I find really great URLs, that’s when Twitter is truly a “microblog” for me to share my find), self promotion (when I post a new video to my vlog share the URL – but I do NOT automatically post everything I blog on, socializing, and answering questions.

Perhaps reciprocal altruism can transform the reliance on a small number of people to transform thinking and behaviour. George Siemens (4,016 tweets) links to this Onion post about ‘the four or five guys who pretty much carry the whole Renaissance’.

Just as I was concluding this post I received Stephen Downes’ OLDaily that contained an apology:

December 20, 2009

Better Late Than…
Well – there’s a first. Though I wrote some posts on Friday, I actually forgot to publish the newsletter and send the emails. First time ever. So, here it is, a couple days late, but intact. Enjoy.

Stephen’s news is an important marker in my day and usually initiates the sharing that Tom Davenport extols. His news arriving was a great end to a day of thinking about learning and sharing. I am off to read Seth Simonds’ post Bye with a Warmly Huggs.

Photo Credit

Nature and Technology

Hidden Treasure Explored


Global Villages, Connection Generation, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

The drive from my home to the University of Canberra gives me the luxury of listening to some great radio programs on Radio National and Classic FM. The journey takes eighty minutes and so by the time I arrive at the University or home on the return journey I have had the opportunity to listen to news, a range of ideas and composers. The rich resources of the ABC website enable me to follow up any of the day’s items.

On Friday (8 May) I was thinking about the Public Sphere discussions hosted by Kate Lundy. I had missed the event but had followed with interest the blog post news and the Twitter feed (the Twitter part of the discussion reminded me of some of the points Mark Scott had made at the National Library of Australia’s Innovative Ideas Forum). Just out of Braidwood I tuned in to Radio National’s Life Matters and was delighted to hear Richard Aedy‘s introduction to his Talkback program To Tweet or not to Tweet?

The guest on the program was Iggy Pintado. Iggy’s son and father joined him on the program to discuss the characteristics of connectivity. Iggy Pintado is the author of the Connection Generation.


It was interesting to learn that “the book reveals how individuals, groups and networks have progressed beyond their intent to communicate to a tangible connection between people, information, experiences and ideas”. The program used the tag #lm for Twitter during the discussions.

Jelle Marechal was on the program too. He discussed the potential of  a social network site such as GetaLife to create real world activities.

The audio recording of the program is here. A number of people called into the program and helped explore the role social network sites play in people’s lives. Two key issues for me were the discussion of a connected ‘global village’ and the range of connections we have with this village. I liked Iggy’s discussion of the invitational nature of social networks and the choices each of us makes to participate or not.

Just as Life Matters finishing I was driving up the hill past Lark Hill Winery and switched to Classic FM where there was a repeat of an interview between Margaret Throsby and Dan Rubinstein, Director of African Studies in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University. The next forty minutes was a delightful exploration of Biocomplexity in the context of Professor Rubinstein’s study of zebras. On his Princeton University home page he notes that his research explores:

the rules governing animal movements and migration—and involves the interaction of ‘self-organizing’ behavioral movement rules, ecological information, and habitat structure at multiple spatial scales to understand how migratory animal movements respond to human induced land use change and how these changes in movement in turn affect population stability.

What was fascinating about the discussion was that it touched upon many of the group, network and community discussions in last year’s CCK08 course on connectivism and connected knowledge. I realise that it would have been fascinating to have shared a 2007 report Social Networking for Zebras (Science News Online, volume 172, number 22) with colleagues on the CCK08 course. But the immediate links with the Life Matters discussion that had taken me from Braidwood to Bungendore were very strong too.

Dan Rubintein’s analysis of the plains Zebra and the Grevy’s Zebra resonate with discussions about the formation and development of stable (and unstable) social networks in on-line communities. Iggy Pintado describes himself as a ‘super-connected‘ networker. His experience seems entirely congruous with the success of plains Zebras … an eco system of on-line engagement has emerged and has stabilised. I was left pondering if Robyn Williams’ approach to social networks discussed in Life Matters was akin to the Grevy’s Zebra experience and reflects a distinctive response to modernity that is very clear about the tools of conviviality used.

What a delightful way to spend eighty minutes!