Tag Archives: Twitter

Breaking Out of the Echo Chamber

This week I reflected on different networked affinity spaces I use to connect with people, learn new skills and ideas, and inform my thinking. As Gee (2013) asserts in The Anti-Education Era, people might actually be better suited to thinking with others and through the assistance of varied tools instead of thinking alone.

Using social networks and different online communities, I strive to participate in a range of networks to broaden my perspectives, participate in and contribute to communities, and build relationships with others (Jenkins, 2011). In fact, some of my networks, like Twitter, have gotten so large (i.e., following 3,500+ accounts) that I often only catch snippets from certain people or groups. To ensure that I stay up-to-date with my closest affinity groups, I create lists and specific hashtag streams in Hootsuite (e.g., #dtk12chat and #makered) but this means I see more of those discussions and less of other ones.

This is part of a larger concern that Pariser (2011) and Gee (2013) warn about in their work. Due to the flexible, personalized nature of technology and networks today, it is easy to consciously and unconsciously create an information bubble that echos the same ideas and perspectives back at you. Byrne (2016) wrote a great post recently discussing the dangers of these “echo chambers” and the power of social media, in particular, toreinforce your existing point of view in order to give you more of what you like” creating filtered information bubbles.

With the concerns of an echo chamber on my mind, I tried finding new sources of information to add to my “information diet” this week to broaden the bubble I have created on Twitter. At first, I searched for accounts that might push my thinking around issues of testing and standards, school choice, and innovation. It was hard finding accounts that focused on one selective area and I realized a hashtag search might be a better way to broaden my perspectives. I chose three hashtags, #edpolitics, #educolor, and #unschooling and created a new tab with individual streams for them in Hootsuite. My hope was that these streams would bring to the forefront ideas and discussions that I might often miss in my Twitter network because while I follow people who discuss each of them, it is easy for them to get lost in my filtered bubble.

hootsuite streams

Following these streams for the past week helped push discussions and resources related to racism, testing, education funding, and unschooling to the forefront of my Twitter feeds. For example, I read tweets from accounts like Alanis Morissette supporting unschooling and Education Week discussing ESSA. I was excited to see a breakdown comparing unschooling and schooling, find a new resource on game design, and read about new education bills and the new Secretary of Education nomination. I was also concerned to read articles such as this one discussing teaching practices at Success Academy Charter schools, which came up in different ways on both my #edpolitics and #educolor streams (see image). There are clearly difficult discussions that need to be happening around these topics and I can only participate if I actively ensure they are not filtered from my feed.
Screen Shot 2016-02-13 at 4.43.31 PM
I appreciated the opportunity to examine the information I take in each day more closely and take some control over the algorithms (which are about to increase on Twitter) that might be limiting which articles I am exposed to through my networks (Pariser, 2011). I hope to continue this practice of singling out specific hashtags, which are not part of my daily stream, to continue broadening my bubble on a more regular basis.


Byrne, D. (2016). The echo chamber. [Blog post]. Retrieved on February 11, 2016 from http://davidbyrne.com/the-echo-chamber

Gee, J. P. (2013). The anti-education era: Creating smarter students through digital learning. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan

Jenkins, H.  (2011, August 4).  Media Scholar Henry Jenkins on Participatory Culture and Civic Engagement.  Retrieved on February 8, 2016 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZgZ4ph3dSmY&feature=youtu.be  

Pariser, E.  (2011, March).  Beware online “filter bubbles”.  Retrieved on February 8, 2016 from https://www.ted.com/talks/eli_pariser_beware_online_filter_bubbles?language=en  

Experimenting with Open Collaboration

In week 3 of the #TeachtheWeb MOOC, we were asked to find someone to collaborate with and create something together.  The theme for the week was the open web and that was the inspiration for our collaborative work.

I loved the guiding blog post that was written for this week because it succinctly and accessibly covered some of the most important issues around opennessdecentralization, transparency, hacakability, ownership/authorship, collaboration and  remixed derivations. Although many of these topics were ones that I had examined and discussed in both #ETMOOC and the #MediaLabCourse (openness seems to be a MOOC hot-topic!) I appreciated the focus on webmaking and looking at openness through the lenses of “technical implementation as well as the social and cultural usage of the Web.”

After Kevin posted in the G+ group asking if anyone wanted to create a comic, I join him and two other collaborators, Chad and Hayfa, in using a new tool (Bitstrips) to make something together. We slowly worked out the technical details and each took turns adding one frame of the comic and then Kevin added some closing frames (he wrote more about it here). I really enjoyed the opportunity to learn and test out a new tool. Bitstrips was pretty intuitive in terms of comic-creation (maybe a little less so in terms of collaboration) and I appreciated how many options were available to create life-like avatars and manipulate their movements.

bitstrips menu

The theme of our comic was a play on hacking the web and somewhere along the way, we also started a train metaphor. It was fun to be part of a co-created product and exciting to wait and see what the next person would add and find out how the story/comic ended. I think the project would have had a different feel if it had involved real-time collaboration but I appreciated the suspense of this approach and opportunity for us each to leave a mark individually while still being part of a larger whole. You can check out our final product below:

hack the web bitstrips comic

Next, Kevin actually created a remix of our collaborative comic. I love the idea of being able to continue building, layer upon layer, on a collaborative project. This allows each of us to learn from each other and spark innovative design/creation ideas that we might not have come up with on our own. It also reminds me of a collaborative Google Presentation that came out of #ETMOOC where people added slides about connected learning. As more and more people joined in, the slides began to get more complex and detailed as people inspired one another and led participants to realize new ways of using the tools and expressing ideas.

During the #TeachTheWeb Twitter chat this week, we talked about how transparency can motivate others to innovate and make/create. The transparency that’s possible in a shared Google Presentation, where you can see others working in real-time openly making changes and letting their work and inspiration be seen, is really motivating. This same transparency in code – the ability to use the X-Ray Goggles or other tools to see how someone created a website, has pushed me to experiment and try new tags and edits to make new web creations.

Although we didn’t have as much transparency in the making of our comic, we did have another vital component that we also discussed during the Twitter chat – a willingness to try and to fail. Without necessarily knowing the tool, the collaborators, the end-goal or product, we all responded to Kevin and said, “I want to try.” This mentality of openness goes a long way in helping to create open products and build an open web and also encourage others to join you or remix your work to make more open creations. So in the spirit of being inspired by others’ openness and an interest to continue our momentum, here’s my remix of Kevin’s remix of our collaboratively created Hack the Web Comic!

hack the web remix mpowers