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Finding your tribe

One of the most enjoyable and inspiring books I have read this year has been Sir Ken Robinson's "Out of our Minds"  and my ref...

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Clicks and cliques

I suppose there is a human tendency to cluster around shared interests or passions. We form tribes, we are influenced by those we admire. We like connecting. We wear our group badges with pride, be they football team colours, fashions, preferred technologies, book clubs, sporting activities, on the whole we like to be one of a group or indeed several groups.Birds of a feather, flock together.

Thanks to the internet it has never been easier to seek out those who share interests. As #warcler #clerwar gets underway again the ease of # to find new friends is being put to good use. And so I have been reflecting on connectedness. 

I will be presenting next month on the many benefits of open practice and becoming a connected educator at the Global Education Conference #globaledcon14. There are so many great things that have happened in my life, so many new friends, new connections, new opportunities since I first "lurked" in online teaching spaces and I will be sharing those soon. One that is worth mentioning "en passant" is that, even when you need to down tools and take a break, someone out there is looking at your work and developing it further. Just such an event became apparent to me recently when a friend of a friend shared an image in a tweet:

Maha's diagram is a lovely re-hacking of a blog post I had written, she was quite dismissive of it, to me it was like a gift out of the blue. A connection with Egypt that I had never made before.

But do clicks make cliques? Does our participation in online groups lead to us shunning others or being dismissive of those who are outside our connections, our PLN? Do we start to use language that distances us from others, making it awkward for them to penetrate our circle? I think we must always remain aware of this danger and willing to engage widely.  

This morning I felt the need to be alone, to wander through the beautiful autumn sunshine with my thoughts. I had come across Dunbar's number a theory which maintains that humans are limited in the number of others they can connect with. I admit to feeling at times overwhelmed by the possibilities for connection and collaboration presented by the web, but I also believe that the brain is not fixed and limiting, it is flexible and complex and I wonder if this theory will stand given the new ways of working and socialising that we are witnessing online. 

As I captured some of the colour of the trees in the park I spotted chestnuts blown down by the wind, carpeting the ground and I wondered what my friends in Clermont would make of the waste of these lovely "marrons" so I will share them here. Just a few more clicks, no cliques, lots of connections.