Oh what a tangled web we weave…when first we practice to hyperlink!
Reflections on our Web Connections
The above image is an illustration of all the connections to my blog, here on Coetail. I learned about this tool from Jeff Utecht and it’s from https://www.aharef.info/static/htmlgraph/ If you want to give it a try for your own website, use Firefox browser.
The website gives the explanation of the colours of the dots as:
blue: for links
red: for tables
green: for the DIV tag
violet: for images
yellow: for forms
orange: for linebreaks and blockquotes
gray: all other tags
Compare my website to that of www.youtube.com
Compare these to the one below of www.cbc.ca (Canadian Broadcasting Company–A government-owned public broadcasting and news channel)
Academic discussions aside, I think my website connections are the prettiest of all! I’m glad there is some red and colour. My picture looks to me of puffy dandelions, marigolds and red Christmas holly at the same time.
I learned during my Coetail studies that we should try to hyperlink our webpages as much as possible since the point of the Internet is all the connections we make to each other. I had not thought of that before Coetail. When I read something, I like to read it to the end and then I feel like I’ve done a thorough job with it. I am a bit OCD (can’t you tell that already!?). The fact that I run into links upon links on a single webpage has a way of driving me crazy. I never feel that I’ve finished reading. I know that this is the point of the Internet but I have had to change the way I deal with content now. Sometimes I just HAVE to close that bloomin’ web page and walk away!
Maybe I am looking at this too deeply, but I sometimes wonder if we’ve swapped real personal relationships in our personal lives and its life-lasting interconnectedness with a pseudo set of connectedness within our Internet connections. I know I have stated that for my teenagers, their off-line relationships are not that different from their on-line relationships. I don’t think they see any difference. Their off-line friends become their on-line friends and vice versa. See Doug Johnson’s blogpost “Is it worse or is it simply different?” for a fuller discussion on this.
For myself, I can see the attraction of Internet connections. We are linked together by our common interests and lots of “feel good” vibes without all the hassles that come with face2face relationships.
If I had to make a visual of my offline relationships, there would be a lot more red (symbolizing spilt blood) and dark spots (symbolizing painful spots).
Jeff has this great blogpost about the experiential curve that we go through as we establish our PLNs (Personal Learning Networks).
His illustration looks like quite a roller coaster ride (a part of the Coetail Effect!) and I would agree that my own journey these past three months has been similar. I’ve come across so much great content and learning first through my Coetail cohort and then through Twitter (that Coetail introduced me to); I feel like my head and my heart are exploding sometimes.
It finally dawned on me that if I wanted to get some sleep, I had better just NOT take a quick peek at my Tweet Deck. There really is no such thing as a quick peek at your Twitterfeed when you have OCD tendencies. Slight OCD can be a great trait to have because it’s helpful to be meticulous in teaching (lesson planning, record keeping, & paper management), but it’s not so great when you want to go to bed at a decent hour. There are so many interesting links on the Internet that it is difficult to stop reading, most nights.
Looking back on Course 1 and Course 2, I have learned to appreciate the benefits of giving back on the web by blogging and interacting with people. It’s no secret that it’s not been easy for me to give up my “anonymous” identity on the web. I reTweeted something and it was posted on some social media round-up page. When I saw that, I freaked. I wanted to contain my online identity within a certain area and space but it was crazy to think I could.
Glenn Hervieux @SISQITMAN wrote a blogpost in response to one of my blogs on Digital Identity. He told me this through Twitter. If I thought I freaked about my Tweet, I probably went pale when I read his message. I thought surely someone has taken issue with me, with something I’ve written. He’s gone as far as to write a blog to flame me or to slag me…
Of course, it was none of that. Glenn had written a lovely blogpost in response to my blog. Wheew. After 16+ years of hiding under my rock on the Internet, I’m starting to gain some confidence about having two-way interactions on the Internet. It turns out that educators are really a very supportive and kind bunch of people. Slowly, I’m gaining resilience and bravado about having an online identity.
I had a second reTweet posted in some social media round-up page. (I think it’s because my blouse is fuschia-coloured in my Twitter icon and people notice my Tweets?! They were both re-Tweets and they were not anything stunning.) By that time, I was less stressed. Doug Johnson
@BlueSkunkBlog completely copied and pasted one of my comments and turned it into a blogpost of his own (My comments were taking friendly- issue with him complaining about the spreading of “manure” around the Internet and Twitter). He wrote a blogpost in response to my comments. I guess they call this a re-blog. (Have I confused you? Welcome to the world of tangled web links!)
Anyway, my point is that by the time Doug came around, I was a lot more calm. It helped that we had interacted online in a friendly manner before. I had no clue who Glenn was when he showed up at my Tweetdeck doorstep!
After Doug’s reblog, I wrote Jeff and wife, Daneah that it was too late for me to crawl back under my rock. I don’t think I would anyways, if given the chance. I realize that I’ve much to gain by interacting across the Internet and not just reading it. I’ve made some friends and found some professional colleagues from across the world. I wrote an AUP as a joint-project with Coetailers from Germany, Africa, & China. I reconnected with my schools in Hong Kong. Talked to Indonesia, which was my home for two years. I became reacquainted with the teaching & education community in Canada, which I left over 20 years ago. It was great to hear how things have progressed “back home”. I even found a platform for my silly two-liners (thank you Twitter!). Hopefully, I’ve said some meaningful and helpful things to others along the way.
There are always positives and negatives with everything. There are risks with putting myself “out there” and expressing my thoughts, opinions, ideas, and vulnerabilities so publicly. I’ve been lucky so far that it’s been safe, friendly, and supportive. I really appreciate Jeff @jutecht for making the Coetail community closed to outside commenting. It gives us courage while we are learning the ropes.
Writing is one of my “loves”. I really try to switch my students onto writing (for fun, for personal expression, for remembering milestones) when I am their classroom teacher for the year. In the past, I’ve given students pretty stationery to use. I’ve given them interesting pens to write with (including teaching them calligraphy!). I’ve taught them how to marble paper, bind and make their own books. Now, I have a even better tool: blogging. Blogging is pretty stationery, custom binding, and ‘font galore’ calligraphy pens all in one powerful package. I can’t wait to show them this.
Upon reflection, I see that it’s been pivotal for me to take this journey connecting myself up to people on the Internet and not just hooked up to the Internet with my ethernet cable. I am experiencing what my students will experience when they start sharing their work with an online audience. I hope they will have less anxiety than I did. If they do have worries, I am definitely in a stronger position to deal with it now.
In early March, Jeff came to my kids’ school to do a Professional Development day. It was a complete coincidence that that happened. I didn’t know he was coming when I signed up for Coetail.
When he came, I think I’d only been in Coetail for 5 or 6 weeks. I was so excited to have this chance to meet him in person! When I saw him, I did what every North American born person would do when meeting a good friend—– I gave him a hug when I greeted him. After a few moment’s contemplation it dawned on me that I had basically hugged a complete stranger. Sure, I had interacted with him on the Internet and within the Coetail course, but I had never really met him, prior to that point. Not face to face. Woops. I don’t think I’ve ever given a total stranger a hug before, in my life. I felt kind of embarrassed afterwards. Somehow my online connections became my offline connections and I hadn’t noticed the difference.
(It’s a good thing I gave him a North American greeting. The European French greeting is a kiss on each side of your cheek 3x! )
I suppose this illustrates something about our interconnectedness through the Internet. We’re helping each other, supporting each other, teaching each other. It would impossible for us to not become friends even without face2face.
At the end of the PD Day, my old-fashioned sensibilities kicked in and I said “goodbye” to Jeff by shaking his hands. This was more for myself (being a person of conservative Asian heritage) than for Jeff’s sake. 🙂
Our writing assignment this week is to reflect about our web connections. The hyperlinks are numerous and it can look like a tangled spider’s web on paper. If I could draw a picture of all the human connections that I’ve made through the web, each person would be a different colour and slightly different shape; it would be even a prettier picture I bet. (I get to be the pink coloured heart!)
If you would like to see my website connection flowers “blooming” in front of you, watch the YouTube video. The accompanying music is from YouTube’s free “add audio” tool. The title of the music is “Child’s Garden” and how appropro I thought!
What way are you most connected across the web?
Afterword: My youngest son (now 9 years old) was watching me proof-read this webpage and watching the YouTube video with me. While he was watching me, he says to me, “Mom, can I join this school?” I didn’t hear him for the first few times as I was busy concentrating on my proofreading. Suddenly, it dawned on me. I asked him, “Do you mean Coetail ? You want to join Coetail?” My son replies, “Yes, but do you think I’m allowed?” I smiled and said, “Of course, yes!”