It seems a long time ago now, but way back then I was in charge of equipping all our staff with Laptops - we are talking about a decade ago, so back then it was pretty revolutionary. I was convinced, still am, that giving staff access would be the best way of moving everyone up in terms of their ICT use. This, of course, meant they had access to 'THE INTERNET' (shocked horror gasps in soundtrack), suspense builds......
I got asked the question, what can we do, how can we use this, what is permitted? My answer came back, usual sort of stuff, nothing naughty, nothing illegal etc etc.
Well that was ok, they all got that, though some probably didn't have a clue what I meant. But then someone asked, what about this new fangled stuff, checking your bank, looking up holidays etc etc,,,,,
Go ahead I said, though not while you are teaching.
Now be aware the broadband pipe we had was BIG - so no worries over stopping other more virtuous web use.
Cut to a few weeks ago, I discover Twitter. I am converted from thinking its about telling your mates when you have a cup of coffee - I see the amazing professional networking possibilities. It now runs at work on whatever computer I am on, its on at home whenever i am awake, its on my iphone when I am mobile. It is there, in the background all the time.
Someone asked me recently what was the point (they weren't convinced - its all about telling people you have just had a cup of coffee.....) So I said, imagine being in a room with lots of all the most interesting, most entertaining, most provoking people from all over the world.... and being able to completely ignore them and get on with what you are doing, you don't have to make small talk, you don't have to listen to them - but you can, and the conversations that are there are amazing at times.... and you can learn from them, and they can learn from you.
I now try to persuade everyone to become a twitterer.....
Imagine a residential conference where all delegates were forbidden from chatting in between sessions, where meals were held in silence, where at the end of the day everyone had to go to their rooms and sit alone in silent contemplation. How many conferences have you attended where the 'gems' actually are the informal conversations, the links, the serendipitous crossovers?
THAT IS SOCIAL NETWORKING! And its allowed, and its encouraged because its face to face. Social Networking using electronic boxes of tricks is an instrument of the devil, it may lead to chats about things that are 'off topic', that are going nowhere.
Are we in danger of double morality here?
How do we develop new ideas, how do we make new connections if we do not have random and sometimes wasteful social interactions?
So, lets be sensible, lets not say things that are inappropriate, lets not say things that might be hurtful, lets not give out confidential material, lets not act stupidly...... lets all behave sensibly when we attend conferences, or when we are in the staffroom...... and we might as well do the same when we are twittering!