79 comments on “Trouble in twitterland, bullets in the blogosphere

  1. Jeremy,

    Interesting how everyone highlighted (highlit?) the thing about re-tweeting in my blog post. In fact that was used by many people to take the heat off the main thrust of that blog post, which was this:

    There are people tweeting who only tweet about themselves, their work, their successes and what people are saying about them. They don’t share resources, they don’t share in the joys of others’ successes, they don’t congratulate anyone else – in short it’s all about them. They’re the ‘takers’, not the ‘givers’.

    The point of my blog posting was to highlight that their Twitter lives and currency will be short-lived and meaningless, because nobody likes people who simply leech off others. My point, as Chris Pirillo more elegantly said, was that ‘community has nothing in common with narcissism’ – that you can’t be social and only think of yourself.

    So when people post blogs and advertise them, then re-advertise them ten minutes later (and subsequently another five times in the first day), when they thank every mention of their blog, when they retweet every mention of their blog and when they tweet that they’ve just replied to a comment on their blog, they just come across as a little desperate and a little needy.

    And most people on Twitter are not like that – they don’t feel compelled to try to divert the spotlight onto themselves all the time… in short, they understand the online culture a little better. They play the social game properly – because they are there to socialise, and not to sell themselves to a new audience.

    For me it was a visible clash between the ‘natives’ and the ‘immigrants’. The natives have spent time building their online currency, and so only need to tweet once or twice to get the messge out there, the immigrants feel that their online existence should be as important as they understand their f2f existence to be. Except that’s not the case…

    The natives have put the time in to establish community, they give as well as take and they share – so they don’t need to grub around in the dirt, hawking their wares for another tweet, a vote on the Edublogs awards, another retweet, another comment – it’s undignified.

    The immigrants have a (to miscoin the words of Morrissey) “I decree today that life is simply taking and not giving. Social networks are mine and they owe me a living” attitude and it just doesn’t work like that. Every time one forces the spotlight onto onesself looks a little more desperate, a little more ‘love me’ and a little more out of place.

    I tweeted my blog posting once and it garnered 80 comments in a day – that’s how it works. If it’s interesting then people will play along, if it’s not, standing under the spotlight shouting ‘please love me and my blog’ twenty times a day is not going to make a jot of difference to the world.

    So when I see people saying “thanks for retweeting the fact that I tweeted thanks for commenting on my blog and that I’ve just replied to the comment you left on my blog” I just see someone desperate for the limelight….

    So, no, it wasn’t about people being nice and saying thanks – it was about people who are rapidly losing market share in every profession because they’ve been slow to engage with the online community. And no degree of puffing onesself up online is going to make up for that.

    New world order and all that. And that was my original point – listen to the natives, see how they comport themselves and then dive in, quietly, without causing a fuss. Thinking one is as important online as one might be in real life is a huge mistake. Different community, different values.


  2. Hello Jeremy and congratulations on your blog!
    How true everything that you mention. I have felt frustrated by many blog comments (I am very new to Twitter so I do not know what is happening there)lately and sometimes I feel that everybody should be extra-cautious about what they post, how they answer in order to avoid offending anybody. However, the use of anything, if not Twitter or blogs, is beneficial or negative depeding on the way one uses it. A pencil can write, but it can also poke out someone’s eye!
    Especially for all of us who work in ELT, we make a great impact I think with what we say as educators-isn’t there a popular ELT saying that mentions that “teachers should first of all model behavior for their students to follow”? No matter how “in-the-clouds” that may be considered, it is the truth.
    You are absolutely right that people can be ruthless even in person, which is equally horrible.
    But “…laced with a dose of mild racism”: I think that racism is abhorrent in any form.
    When I notice something that annoys me in a blog, I cannot leave it to what it is; but the matter is HOW you choose to disagree with someone. You can disagree with someone simply by stating your opinion and the reasons why- and you can disagree by degrading, humiliating and so on. The latter for me is unacceptable and even more so in the public sphere.
    Thank you very much for a very interesting blogpost on an issue that I think is on many people’s minds these days.
    Kindest regards,

    • Hello Vicky,

      thanks for your comments. I love the thing about the pencil!

      And the idea that we should be good models for students rings a bell with me too.

      I completely agree that racism is abhorrent in any form. People (all of us, I think) practise it mildly without realising it, and if in private it is not SO bad as if we do it publicly. Of course we shouldn’t do it all!

      Yes, the way we disagree really matters!

      Thx again.


  3. Hi Gavin,

    I do actually quite understand you ‘ego’ and ‘immigrant’ points – and worry as an owner of both that I commit the sins you ascribe to us!! The only reason I mentioned your blogpost again is because of the heat it seemed to generate – and because it seemed, chronologically, to be the start of a period of mildly bad-tempered commenting (the kind of thing that got Stephen Fry so worked up a couple of weeks ago).

    I absolutely agree that in the end ‘the love you take is equal to the love you make’!


  4. Here’s a link to what the Twitter people say Twitter is for:


    I can’t see anything about values.

    e.g. …

    Twitter is ambient–updates from your friends and relatives float to your phone, IM, or web site and you are only expected to pay as much or as little attention to them as you see fi

    Simply put, Twitter is what you make of it–receive a lot of information about your friends, or just a tiny bit. It’s up to them.

    Hope this helps. (It took a lot of courage to join in. Please don’t say horrible things about me or I shall cry.)

    • Hello Karelia,

      I will not say ANYTHING horrible, so no need for crying at all!

      I agree that Twitter is what you make of it. I’m just interested in the private vs public nature of it – and the way it crosses social and personal lines all at the same time.

      More courage! More joining!


  5. Jeremy,

    I wasn’t ‘ascribing’ either to you or anyone else in particular, just so we’re clear – my point (if only I could make the damn thing clearly enough for someone other than my befuddled persona to understand) is that just because you (me, the other) is a ‘big cheese’ in the f2f arena does not mean that you (me, the other) will be online.

    And that if you (me, the other) do choose to adopt social media for whatever reason, the key is in the word ‘social’ rather than in me(dia). For many people the emphasis is on the ‘me’ of ‘media’ and I just find it short-sighted, rude and narcissistic and I have a feeling that it can’t last.

    You (me, the other) can’t move into a new neighbourhood and constantly knock on the neighbours’ doors saying ‘you don’t know me, I don’t do anything for the local community, I don’t do my share of the neighbourhood watch, but look – I’m a big shot, love me, worhsip my, adore my very words’. It ain’t happening…. not as a long-term, wider social phenomenon.

    In short, it’s SOCIAL meDIA!


    • Gavin,

      I’ve got it, I really have. I understand exactly what you are saying. I am 100% clear. Twitter, specifically, is a social medium and fun as that. But it is also a socio-professional communication channel too, otherwise why all the sharing of sites and info about the kinds of things we do? And it is in precisely the social vs professional, the public vs private nature of the medium that my interest lies.

      My post was not specifically about your parachuting immigrants; it is about that last sentence of mine!


    • Hi there Jeremy and Gavin,

      I meant to pop this in somewhere on your blog, Gavin, but while I’m here and it’s fresh in my mind…

      I don’t see Twitter as a place to talk all about me and what I’m doing as the sole focus, but see – here’s the thing – I do (rightly or wrongly, not entirely sure) use it as an updating tool. So if I’ve posted something on the blog and some of my Twitter contacts respond (and respond in a really interesting way), I do then want to tell the rest of my Twitter contacts that the post has taken an interesting turn, whilst also acknowledging publicly the person who was instrumental in doing this. Sometimes I also want to notify a specific person that their comment has been received and uploaded, though I usually keep this to a DM and only publicly tweet an update that I think is significant and of wider potential interest. That can be very subjective of course – and appear even more so when you remember that people often have 3 or more different styles of PLN overlapping with each other on Twitter.

      So while it might appear – according to your criteria (and I admit, RTing the same post every 4-5 minutes and engaging in endless backscratcher thank yous DOES come across as tedious) – that I’m talking about ME ME ME, in actual fact I’m trying to just keep my PLN updated as to how a discussion is developing. And I do appreciate seeing similar updates from other people about how their posts are developing, too. I use updates on Twitter much more than I use RSS feeds. That’s just me, I like the fact that with Twitter I have more information – including updates – at my fingertips.

      You came onto Twitter earlier and use it in a different way (or more restricted or carefully defined sense), evidently, and might well (mis)interpret my use of Twitter as being all about attention grabbing – whereas I may be only attempting to update and keep Twitter contacts informed. Also, perhaps many of my contacts see and use Twitter in the same way I do, and won’t find it irritating at all as a result (mayhap even appreciate it). I worry that your “ME ME ME” branding may be being painted onto the profiles of people who are basically staying in touch and giving updates, and that’s both unfortunate and somewhat unfair.

      I do see your points, and have taken some of them on board, but I can’t help wondering… are you more entitled to define the use of Twitter than me, or are we only entitled to define our own different uses of this tool? I sort of like to believe that Twitter is very much an evolving medium, and there’s room for both of us…

  6. This is what I fear. How many new educators and teachers who could benefit from the beautiful side of social media will read many of the arguments and tweckling and decide not to join in a very caring and sharing community? I almost quit when I was only 3 months in. When I first entered social media, I attended a virtual conference I learned about from Twitter. I had never been to one so I wanted to see what it was about. I was in the back channel with others offering ideas for a question asked and some thought it was a good idea. The person who invited me to the conference, though, decided to get on the mike, name me, and bash my ideas in front of everyone. No one would interact with me after that and I decided not to attend another event by this group. Glad I didn’t stop participating in social media, though, because then I would have never traveled to some great conferences and met some great people or would show others how wonderful social media is. I have been able to contribute a lot and even helped a really poor school get great educational materials for free.

    The community aspect of social media is quite beautiful and comforting. You are right that we often remember the negative but I like to remember the shoulders I’ve cried on through Skype, the 100s of happy birthdays and congratulations on I’ve received on Twitter, songs sent to me from friends who know my musical tastes more than my close friends, or the birthday parties celebrated on Second Life. I like to remember the schools which have connected from different parts of the world and materials provided to schools that never would have received them if the educators never participated in social media. I have received comments and reactions that have touched me so much I have cried. I really appreciate my community and can only hope that those new to social media see the positive first.

  7. Hello Jeremy,

    Thank you for this very refreshing take on this whole intense debate that’s been going on for the last couple of days. I think that anyone joining our end of the world in Twitterland, may have been bemused by what’s been going on. Gosh,as educators we all need to think carefully about how we position ourselves as regards certain issues – so there are things which are “no-go” areas for us, especially if we decide to become part of a social community which is so public!

    But what strikes me in this debate, which initially had a jocose feel to it but has become increasingly rabid, is that however much we want to subvert the original use of something like Twitter (turning it into a PLN, for example) it originated as a truly narcissistic tool! So, how far can we actually escape from this? Yes, it´s obviously common sense and good manners to control our egos a bit, but let´s face it: Twitter is ultimately a vehicle to say something about yourself. And isn’t that a great opportunity?

    Now, if I read something really interesting, well then, I’ll happily re-tweet it – and I don’t really care if this person is an immigrant or native. And if they want to tweet it loads of time, well, that’s their problem. What interests me is what they had to say or share – the quality of it!

    So yes, I agree 100% with you – it’s about manners all around.

    I actually think that what we’ve observed over the last couple of weeks must be due to the fact that Christmas is creeping up on us …no stress at all, just all that good will, mirth, laughter, merriment, Christmas shopping, …!!!!


    • Hi Valeria,

      thanks for a great comments. You are right that Twitter was always about narcism and still is, I guess. Sometimes it grates, though.

      But as for no-go areas? Well some things are better left unsaid, perhaps. Especially in public.

      Manners. The only problem? Sometimes (to be personal) I have them, sometimes I forget!

  8. Hi Shelly,

    thank you for this heartfelt post. I am horrified by your story about your first virtual conference. Why ARE some people so insensitive I wonder?

    I agree with you about all the benefits of social media. It is a great place to be (though Gavin DOES have a point about how it is used sometimes) and has enlarged my little world. I encourage everyone to join up because in the end it is what WE make it!


    • Jeremy,

      I got to know the person. I found out about the wonderful projects the person was doing so perhaps it was a bad day. I have learned that valuable lesson as well that not every slant or issue in social media should be my battle. Sometimes, people have bad days and this will reflect on blogs, microblogging, comments, discussions, and so forth. Social media is human; therefore, the human element will always impact the experience. I have made my mistakes as well and have learned from them. Once I retweeted something without editing it and received well-deserved heat about it from many peers. Misunderstandings will take place and my aim is to come out of these more knowledgeable and experienced with the relationships still intact. After all, it is about the relationships and I wonder if losing a possible friend that many of us will possibly meet in real life is really worth it?

  9. Hi Jeremy,

    As a newbie blogger I confess to being pretty much lost both in the blogosphere and twitterland sometimes. The virtual world seems to be like the real one so you try to apply the same rules but is it really?

    Personally, I keep learning a lot from all of you. Gavin’s post made me realize once again how crucial is it to weigh your words before going public. Karenne emphasized the importance of being respectful.

    I guess the main problem lies not in the fact that people’s opinions or comments are rude or cheeky. It is the fact they are all written, not uttered. It’s so much easier to get your meaning across without offending anyone when you have a face to face conversation. Intonation, tone of voice, manners and mimics count for a lot and yet you cannot find them here.

    Anyway, these are my feelings. Naive maybe but that’s what I think 🙂


    • Hi Anita,

      yes I am sure you are right – that it’s something to do with the ‘written-down’ nature of comments – and, as I have said, that the comments are both private AND public all at the same time!

      I’m pretty new to this blogging business myself, so I’m learning just like you.

      But it’s an interesting experience, at least!


  10. Yes it certainly has been an interesting week.

    I’ll start off with my comments. A couple people seem to be making this claim that I made offensive generalizations. Actually, the word generalization seems to have taken on a negative connotation in this context. If certain attitudes, beliefs, or behaviors are observed in a large majority then this can be constituted as a pattern that gives predictive value and a basis from which to understand further observations. My university training is that of a cultural historian and this is what we do. We identify patterns and analyze them. I’m certainly no expert, but it is quite acceptable within the scholarly community although apparently not in ELT.

    I’m quite sure this debate would not have even gotten off the ground if I had been commenting on America or Britain. To say racism in America is still a major issue or that the Southern US is primarily defined by locality, religiosity, and violence will raise no eyebrows. Why then a comment about another country? Why the double standard?

    Diarmuid made a good point when he said that a positive generalization would not be as vilified or in any way controversial. Why not? If we are using the term generalization this loosely then the idea that some people will be offended by an ok hand gesture is a generalization. Of course a small number of people would not be offended by this hand gesture, but the vast majority will. Is it therefore useful to mention? I think we’d all agree yes. What is the difference between talking about a hand gesture and talking about prevalent cultural attitudes? Sure there are exceptions, but they are exceptions and therefore should not affect the main data analysis.

    The racism implication is ridiculous. The comments started as neutral observations, moved to a few negative sentences and then a few positive sentences. Quite the well-balanced response. To focus on 1-2 negative sentences is quite skewed. If I had wanted to attack Turkey in some way I certainly could have. If I wanted to support my points with number upon number of personal life stories or the stories Turkish friends and family tell me that would put a negative spin on things, I could have. This was in no way my intention which is why such stories and observations aren’t included. I also have tons of positive stories that could be used to illustrate such points or demonstrate others. Again, these were not included because the observations were meant to be simply observations, neither positive nor negative.

    I would challenge readers to read the scholarly literature on Turkey or to live here for an extended period of time and then prove the observations wrong. This goes for Turkish readers as well who can claim that they are not true for the majority of people they know. I would like to see a critical engagement of the issue with well-reasoned responses rather than a knee-jerk emotional reaction about being offended. I live here and constantly engage in general and critical discussions of America, its bad points as well as its good. I simply expect the same.

    I’d still like to know exactly what was so “offensive” about these comments. I feel like I’m getting unreasonably attacked on this one with very little acknowledgment of what exactly was offensive or any engagement on the accuracy of the comments. If I had considered them offensive I wouldn’t have posted them.

    The entire experience has been interesting though. Emotions flare and things are said that perhaps cross a line. Then the next person gets angry and does the same. Others read more into something than is actually there. We don’t know everybody as personally here and are unable to pick up on unwritten context. There are issues of etiquette here, but there are also issues of free speech and expression. I think everyone is welcome to state their opinions and ideas online. Being in the public sphere we have to think carefully about what we say and be willing to accept the repercussions of what we write, even to the point of being ready for unexpected reactions. What I have always loved about blogging is the dialogue. Sometimes it’s hard to keep emotions out of it, but even the negative comments help us grow and learn. Keeping things constructive is probably the most important and I think you’ve done a good job with this post here.

    • Hi Nick,

      thanks for your reply here – and you’ll have seen my subsequent reply on Jason Renshaw’s page.

      I think, precisely because Blogs inhabit that private/public space – and are more ‘permanent than Tweets – that it’s very easy for things to be (mis?) interpreted. With Twitter, of course, you can correct that fairly quickly, but on a blog it’s more difficult.

      As I said (and I didn’t see any racism in your original comment there) I think generalisations are almost always dangerous, and open you up to people over–reacting, as I may have done, though I hope you understood my reasons (see my second comment).

      I think the best way out of it (over on Jason Renshaw’s blog) is to keep talking about it because that’s always the best way.
      It’s an interesting place, the blogosphere/Twitterland!!

  11. As I said before, I like blogs because they are open to debate. I comment because I’m interested in getting other’s opinions or in giving others mine.. If you don’t agree with me, great, but there has to be reasons for it. I don’t think people should just pop on and say I don’t agree or it made me angry. Most people did give well-thoughtout responses, which is great.

    Honestly, I do come across as very blunt though, especially for Turkey where beating around the bush and circumventing more than addressing topics is the norm. My writing style tends to be too in your face for the blogosphere I think. I was really influenced by my writing professor back in university who told me to stop being so wishywashy, drop the caveats, take a stand, and see where it goes. I think the biggest lesson I’m taking away from this is that I need to start putting those caveats and that wishwashiness back in. It’s part of the manners you mentioned. We all come from very different backgrounds and cultures and it’s smarter to play it safe than sorry.

    You’re right, people just need to keep talking. Either you will reach a point of understanding or you will part ways. Goes for any communication life I suppose.

    My personal experiences in ELT in Turkey have been less than stellar for the most part and others, like yours and Ken’s, have been very positive. I think something I reacted to was that since my experience has been more on the negative side it was heavily criticized. Why should my experience be invalid simply because it’s not all sunshine and rainbows? Also, I think some people, especially the Turks, saw it as a comment directed at them. Really, foremost in my mind when I made the ELT schools comment was the last miserable school I’d gotten stuck in due to the economic crisis and I was primarily thinking of the foreign teachers who taught only grammar and were always teacher-centered. As nearly every one of my students will tell you, most of their English education has been the same whether it was at a private course taught by foreign teachers or a public school class taught by Turkish teachers. Grammar is the name of the game in Turkey and the students suffer for it. That’s not to say that there aren’t rays of light as the amazing English of many teachers you meet here can attest to, but the super affluent schools that do provide high quality English language instruction are the minority, not the majority and accessible only to the wealthy most of the time. Of course, the best education being available primarily to the wealthy is a major problem in almost every country.

    I don’t think you overreacted and other people’s interpretations are valid. Meaning is defined as much by the reader as by the author. There certainly has been lots to think about…

    • Thanks for this second post, Nick. I don’t think we disagree very much about anything!

      Only that point that whilst your experience working in less than satisfactory schools (from what I understand of your comment) leads you to have one view of, say, ELT in Turkey, my experience working with some really top teachers/trainers etc gives me a different perspective. Neither of us, then, should probably generalise from that to say what is true for the whole country. Your reality is, er, real, and so is mine. So we would probably say, when the dust settles, that there are some pretty grim areas in Turksih ELT, and some wonderful sites of excellence.

      I guess that does sound a bit boring!


  12. Sort of interesting, Jeremy, but when I read your main post, I couldn’t help getting the impression that my blog is a place where I post contentious articles about Turkey, and sexist polls that I was forced to pull down! Not that anyone may care all that much, for the sake of clarity I would like to point out that:

    1. My post about Turkey was asking for information and advice about this context – it was through subsequent comments that the ‘dangerous generalisations’ became an issue (and I am very happy to say I think the issue has been resolved very peacefully, with plenty for people to learn from it);

    2. The poll about Sexiest Lady in ELT was a direct response to a previous (and still existing) poll for the Sexiest Man in ELT on a different (very well-known) blog, and was taken down voluntarily as an expression of values and consideration of others’ reputations (as opposed to be being ‘forcibly’ taken down).

    I know you, Jeremy, didn’t mean for these to be misinterpreted, and many are familiar enough with what’s been going on to not need an explanation. However, with this growing awareness of digital footprints and all, I didn’t want my name (and blog) associated too blandly with generalisations about Turkey and sexist polls!

    • Hi Jason,

      your blog is blameless, of course it is. And anyone who says different will have me to deal with!

      Seriously, I don’t think your blog is a place of wild and stupid excess. Far from it. You DID invite comment when you replied to the Sexist thing, but the Turkey post just sort of got away from you!!

      I am extremely sorry if my post seems to suggest that your blog is somehow ‘deviant’. Just that suddenly it got two ‘controversy’ hits, and the nature of the discourse (the bad-temperedness of it) seemed worth commenting on.


  13. I think that it is people’s behaviour on blogs and social networking tools that is worth reflecting on. There seems to be a mix of holier-than-thou and mob mentality when a weaker fish steps out of line! Nick’s comment was a case in point.

    I don’t think that writers have to consider the permanence of their words when blogging; readers have to consider that these words are often being expressed i n the heat of the forge. In my experience, blogs, bulletin boards, twitter etc are all about the MAKING of opinions, not the petrification of opinions.

    Nick J expressed some opinions about Turkey that presented a critical individual interpretation of the country in which he has lived. Then a flurry of heated comments arrived accusing him of naivety, insulting a whole people, hurting the feelings of a nation, being ill-informed, and a large etc. Most -if not all- comments were based upon a rather skewed perception of what Nick had also said. This is what I mean by a mob mentality.

    What I found disturbing was the absence of people who will have read, enjoyed and benefited from Nick’s articles who didn’t appear and say, “Stop it! We know this guy! He’s not as we are painting him. Let’s contextualise his comments.” I’ve seen that too on Dogme where I have said something that put somebody’s hackles up, it led to an unpleasant spat, and despite having contributed to dogme for years, nobody appeared to say, “What’s going on? We KNOW Diarmuid!”

    I can understand the Turkish teachers getting upset, but that is because I know how fiercely nationalistic many Turkish people are. I don’t think that fierce nationalism is ever a good thing, by the way.

    In short, I would ask that the onus on the writer never to offend be lifted and recast as the onus on the reader to remember the context in which comments are made. This is a fast-paced and disposable media. People have to have the right to say things that may appear hopelessly inappropriate because, when we are trying to work out our take on something, we need to have the freedom to make huge mistakes. God save us from caveats and wishiwashiness. If we are reduced to mind-numbingly inoffensive social behaviour online, then we are doomed. DOOMED, I tell you.

  14. Hi Diarmud,

    thanks for this comment, almost all of which i agree with completely. I DO think that the online environment is a GOOD place to exchange opinions, discuss, argue, all that. What has interested me recently, however, is the bad-tempered nature of some of it.

    As to Nick J’s contribution, I think it was the ‘definiteness’ of his opinions that caused the problem. You will have seen my reply about ‘blanket’ statements.

    I stopped posting anything on Dogme sites years ago because I ventured a slightly contrary opinion to the received Dogme opinion and got lambasted by someone or other in a kind of ugly way. So I just thought ‘I can’t be bothered with this’. I am mildly sympathetic to the whole Dogme thing but think Scott’s original outburst raised as many questions as it pretended to answer. But there was a time when asking those questions didn’t seem very popular, and hell, there’s only so much time to go round and you don’t need to waste it on that.

    Caveats and wishiwashiness? Yes, enemies of decent discourse. Thought and clarity? Now they DO work and that was why (when I saw a lack of them) I, personally, responded to Nick’s post.


  15. Oh boy… glad you joined in the discussion Jeremy and glad you’ve tackled some things head on without tackling others.

    I’m with Gavin, there really has been a lot of ME-ME-ME and it’s coming from a specific subset… but it is not my position to judge or even attempt to understand.

    For me, the keywords are “unfollow” or move them to an entirely new column in my tweetdeck with a title I shan’t reveal ;-).

    In many respects, I do wish that Gavin had used real examples because unfortunately the lack of finger-pointing (which would have been inappropriate I hasten to add) meant that just about anyone who read his blog post… even me, who had previously had a conversation with him, knowing that it was not about me, jumped to the conclusion that my thanking people for RTng was a part of the problem.

    Passions, eh?

    I think they’re running high because to be honest, and god -here-I-go-again-with-my-black-and-white statements, so many people who have recently joined social media sites have actually made little to zero effort to understand the new arena, have not googled, read the blogs, participated in webinars on the subject but instead have come in with their predefined ideas about how it all works… sort of like buying a Japanese DVD player without reading the instructions.

    Yet Web2.0 life is not like the forums, is not like like flat web 1.0 life and is not, under any circumstances, like networking at a conference in RL.

    I tried to tell not one, not two… but three different ELT publishers that tweeting constantly about one’s own products, displaying logos instead of being identities is considered a) spam like behaviour or b) troll like behaviour… I tried to tell them to engage in conversations rather than offer out discounts or “hello, join my FB page too” (so I can now have access to all your private information create a profile of you and then spam you endlessly with offers of new books related to the interests I have now collated on you?????) but they didn’t listen.

    In the drafts of my blog lie a case study on those (professionals) doing it right and how to learn from them… complete with screen shots… but na ja, have not had time to finish it.

    Words are dangerous things and can easily be taken out of context, words used lightly can be read darkly, words written by someone you don’t like, or fear, or who has more or less power than one does, can be read in any way: as an insult, as racism, as bullying, as being a sychophant…

    Libel, slander and general jealousy crop up and are completely readable on the page.

    Tone aimed at one person in particular can be misunderstood to be aimed at various other people.

    A joke can be read as a threat.

    Bullying – whether on twitter or on someone’s blog post occurs whether or not we see it for what it is, the bully and the bullied know exactly what is going on.

    But when someone cries out that they are being bullied – if the call is made by someone as strong as I am (made strong through being victimized in RL, have a wing-chung belt me) that they are being bullied by a seemingly less strong person (passive aggression is rife online as much as it is available off-line) then what, this is called “super-sensitivity”?

    And with regard to the Sexiest Man.. well, actually this is meant to go on Jason’s blog not yours… but in brief.

    A famous man in the public who is referred to as being ‘sexy’ is not the same as unknown and unheard of woman being referred to as being sexy. A very different criteria is used to evaluate this “condition.”

    And I was not inundated with a battle cry for that post to be taken down. A handful of people (including you) perhaps objected, felt slightly uneasy, probably in the same way that George Clooney would like to be admired for his intelligence and wit rather than his face… (yes, that is a compliment, sire) but instead one member of the PLN decided to subtly mention derisively the post on her own blog (with no netiquette, i.e. I was not informed nor notified nor linked… I found the post accidentally as her blog is not in my feeder)… this public curling up of the lip was like putting a really rotten apple in amongst what was perceived by 90% of the male and female population reading the post to question as a barrel of laughs.

    I have more to say… but I think I’ve probably said enough!

    Take care,

    • I think I can spot a petulant response to criticism, Karenne! Sara’s netiquette and her etiquette is beyond reproach and I don’t think it’s surprising if she chose not to link to a post that she objected to.

      As for the 90% who thought it was a laugh (is that a real statistic or just a rhetorical figure?), that doesn’t change anything. There’s no accounting for humour, but it does seem to be dumbing down the whole thing -as you yourself noted.

      Personally, I neither found it humorous nor humorless. To me, it was tabloid and inconsequential. But Sara takes a critical perspective on her blog, and taking a critical perspective, your (very successful) blogpost deserves a heavy flaming. After all, it reduces human value down to looks and looks alone. For us fat, ugly, badly-dressed people, as well as confirming our untermenscheness, it served to marginalise us.

      This is my critical perspective of the whole thing. But I don’t really want to take a critical perspective on this blogpost because it isn’t a really serious threat. The same kind of thing can be found in much more influential formats. The media, advertising, the boardroom etc. This is where I think it is more urgent to combat it and why the blogpost features low down on my radar. I suspect Sara feels the same way which is why she didn’t make a big song and dance about it- just curled her lip derisively!

      But of course the blogpost rang true to many and brought happiness to some. And it’s impossible to please all the people all the time. But let’s not paint Sara as the rotten apple. She’s too good for that.

      • Thank you Diarmuid,

        I think it’s very sweet that you’ve defended her (I like you more now because of it… I specifically left out her name so that my references to her poor netiquette issues would not turn up on google tho’).

        Suffice to say I do not know her on any kind of personal level nor do I wish to, however I know her actions, have seen her tweets and know that she continuously, despite being a part of web2.0 for over 6 months chooses to wear a mask in a public arena.

        When approached privately she chose to continue her derision in public.

        The first paragraph and introductory paragraph of her blog post has now changed.

        Netiquette dictates that when a blog post is significantly changed in terms of content that this update is mentioned in said post.

        Now alas, I feel like I should be doing as GD below, taking screenshots… but hey, why bother.

        You will note please, that on my own blog and the introduction to the said posting, I say that I am “lowering the tone” –

        Diarmuid, it was a deliberate move, it was a scheduled posting… it was a gender political move…

        because like all in great literature, there is more than one side to a story

        (if you would even take a deeper look at the photos I use within my posting, you might even notice that I quite often paint two sides, continue on a story… contrast an idea through the images chosen).. the story in the S-M-in-ELT is the worshipping of the gods)…

        YES, the posting was also done as a celebration, for fun and for joie de vivre – that I have said before, sigh

        subtext people.


      • Sorry, Jeremy,

        I have to continue Diarmuid- really, as much as you like someone you can’t really talk about netiquette on blogs unless you’re done some reading about this and these issues (this isn’t a criticism of you), just this isn’t a “new issue” -it’s not twitter, it’s not a new culture.

        If you discuss another person’s post, you link to it, primarily so that the other person has the opportunity to answer.

        It’s correct form, not something I’m making up.

        p.s. which is your favourite Matrix movie? Mine is number 2 and if you understand why no. 2 is my favorite then as a taoist you will understand the subtextual layering of my own post…

      • Hi Karenne,

        no apologies necessary!

        I think everyone understand the ‘joie de vivre’ motivation behind that poll.

        Just, not everyone saw the joke! Humour is in the eye of the beholder?

        It’s not a big thing, surely. Not worth any more bloodletting! Not worth singling anyone out?

        Keep on blogging Karenne. Worth every minute!


    • Hi Karenne,

      thanks for coming along. And thanks for your long comment.

      It’s a funny thing, this blogosphere (and Twitterland) isn’t it? Hence my post. I appreciated the humorous intent behind your sexiest man poll, but didn’t get involved/get into it cause yes it made me feel uneasy and ….well, I said it all already in the post which you have commented on. I’m not that worked up about it, though, just mildly uncomfotable!!

      But I guess I’d say that it was quite a provocative thing to do – and you must have known that, even as you laughed about it! So you probably expected a bit of comment, not all of it entirely favourable! But you can take that, can’t you? I’m sure you can.

      I don’t quite get the ‘rotten apple’ reference – I mean I’ve just been reading all the comments at Jason Renshaw’s blog and it all seems to have got very heated indeed! Again, that was the motive for my (this) original post. But surely Karenne, it’s quite possible to have disagreements without the whole thing getting seriously personal. Perhaps I’m being a bit insensitive, but I don’t really see signs of bullying, but quite a robust reaction to your ‘fun’ poll. As I said, you must have known it would set the cat among the pigeons a bit.

      Speaking personally – oh hell you know what i think!!

      Everything’s OK, surely.

      (Listen, I’m trying to be emollient here – and I would hate anyone to go too far out on a limb to be able to get back!)


      • Jeremy Hi,

        First you did completely the right thing by mentioning the overwhelming support that I got after my recent theft experience as one of the great highlights of twitter and the blog world. It was truly amazing and I am eternally grateful to all who sent me messages of support. Worth keeping this in mind as a great example of web 2.0 strengths.

        I am not going to comment on the personal views expressed here about me other than to say than on a factual level to say that the blog post referred to has not been changed at all since the day it was written. If anyone wishes to check this, I am more than happy to provide the audit trail stored on my dashboard. The paragraph which mentions the blog on ‘Sexiest Man in ELT’ is as it was when I wrote it.



      • Hi Sara,

        nice to see you here!


        Speaking personally, I found your comments on ‘that’ blog entirely appropriate. As I keep on saying, I completely understand the humorous intent behind it but it raised, for me, interesting issues about private-vs-public humour. But clearly (as the many comments to this blog posting have suggested) there are all sorts of issues in the blogging and commenting world that still have to be resolved.

        Or perhaps they don’t!

        I’m no kind of paragon of virtue, but I don’t think any of this should get too personal. We’re all just floundering about in the blogosphere , and as Shelly says, trying to become more knowledgeable. And also, as she says, it’s all about relationships.


      • Thanks Jeremy,

        I appreciate your response and yes, I wanted, actually more provocative responses to occur… I thoroughly expected them to occur… but on my blog, not behind-my-back…

        I guess that’s not clear: it is simply not appropriate to diss someone else’s post without linking appropriately and informing them so that they have the opportunity to respond.

        Or let it slide.

        I took it personally, I know quite a lot about blogging (albeit I’m a relative newcomer too but I studied my genre)

        – I lashed out on Jason because I felt like after he’d had his fun (I initially saw his post as fun, he seemed to side with the PCpolice (this is as nice as I can say it) and was now bullying me to remove it.

        If I had had the same courtesy shown to me that was shown to him, ie. private discussions, I may well have considered taking the post down.

        Instead I was shown derision.

        Anyway, enough, enough… I need to move on.

        Let the next week be a fun one,

      • Hi Karenne – I didn’t realise that you thought I was trying to ‘bully’ you into removing your post, and I would like to say that’s not the case at all. I respect your right to post what you want, and I was hypothesizing why one could stay and the other couldn’t. I only asked you to reconcile what appeared to be diverging positions on the matter – through your own words and comments, and while insistent about it (and insisting on ‘playing the ball and not the player’), I might construe that as debate and criticism, but not bullying.

        Try to remember that we blog with differing perspectives as well. You take your blogging extremely personally, not surprising when we see how much time and effort you invest in it. I see things on my blog being an open slate, ready to evolve and change my own perspective through discussion. Hence, I don’t get all that fired up when someone disagrees with me. I tried to keep those different perspectives in mind when dealing with your comments on my blog.

        To me, cyber-bullying is when people flame others, abuse them personally and pour vitriol all over them publicly and/or privately, whether it is out of sheer nastiness or just outrage somebody was willing to challenge their ideas. With an issue such as this one, I think it is potentially the converse of what I mentioned earlier: tackling the player and not the ball.

        For all the respect I have for you, Karenne, when it comes to cyber-bullying (whether you realise it or not), you’ve been a prime example of the one dishing it out here, and it is most probably the reason people commented about your post on other blogs or via DM on Twitter rather than confronting you about it on your own blog. They don’t fear your ideas or challenging them, but they do fear or at least dislike the potential for someone to bury them under a torrent of personal abuse. I think it may actually be the case that, in deciding (erroneously, in my opinion) that you were being bullied, you emerged as the worst bully of all! That’s really unfortunate, considering what a very giving person you’ve been in the blogosphere and how much you’ve inspired so many people.

        Anyway, I just wanted to clear that up, and finish by saying I think your recent concession and explanation on my blog was very ‘big’ of you (couldn’t have been easy’). I think you’ve won (or re-won) some fans by doing that, and added to your credibility.

        Looking forward to your future great work!

        ~ Jason

      • Thank you Jason, I appreciate that and yes, I do realize that I came out as the bully even when I felt like I was the one being bullied.

        I suppose there is some ME in my MEdia too and yes, my ego was seriously hurt that after all I have done to raise a community, (the hours I have put in to raise awareness of their work, over my own: much, much, much more than I do of my own…) the community – despite the numerous ways they have of reaching me – chose to turn it’s back on me but… not to my face.

        Yes, I struck out – and struck out.

  16. Hi Jeremy and good on you to continue a rather interesting and I think important discussion here – and congratulations on your new blog and your writing.

    I have followed all the comments in various blogs and have been tempted to respond. I chose this one because I am more inclined to comment on the more general issues raised here, rather than on Jason’s post.

    Some random and rather unconnected remarks:

    We seem to be developing a sense of community here but I am wondering if this community is not getting too close for comfort.

    For example, I have the feeling now that if I visit your blog, or Scott’s or Jason’s and disagree with each or all three of you, you won’t feel hurt, but I AM beginning to feel cautious about what I write in people’s blogs who only have wonderful things to say about everyone but… oh I am becoming a tad inarticulate here…

    Are we getting too personal?

    If we blog, we should be prepared to be criticized and, of course, entitled to respond in an appropriate manner.

    About nationalistic/ethnic pride: I have some of that too. In fact I have a lot of that too. There is so much truth in what you say, Jeremy, that we should be careful about what we say about people’s nationalities, but as Diarmuid points out, this feeling that I have ain’t necessarily a good thing.

    The other day just on the aftermath of Jason’s nomination re Sexy ELT females, I googled myself and, to my horror, I found a letter to the Independent where I really got mad at this English retired female bank employee who announced to the world she was going to come to Greece and teach us uncouth natives how to care for cats. Talk about digital footprints!

    Today I do not think I would have reacted in quite in the same way. When Ken described the use of Companions in Greece as an embarrassment and a scandal, I did not go for his jugular, nor did I feel hurt on behalf of all the Greek teachers, good or bad. Now I that I think about it, I am glad my outlook is changing and becoming more tolerant and relaxed about things like that.

    Why should I feel I can criticise Greece all I want and no one else has the right to? And why should I feel that if one of my friends does this, this is necessarily targeted at me?

    Told you I was going to be a bit rambly.

    Then, on another level I can read underneath the surface of feelings of being hurt expressed by Twitter friends. In the Turkey of the most unbelievably beautifully exquisite manners which I have experienced several times, this is just not the done thing!

    I understand this and respect this deeply, but I do not live in Turkey and you do not live in Greece, so I cannot see how we can impose our own particular cultural preferences as the global etiquette, the modus vivendi for all to follow.

    One cannot rule the blogosphere or the twittersphere, much as they might want to, simply because this is not done back home.

    Just in the same way that Gavin’s post re twitter etiquette is his own view, it doesn’t mean I have to follow Gavin’s rule of terror!

    So, I do have rather mixed feelings about all this and I am wondering whether in all this new democracy of the web and much of our social life now existing out here, whether in fact we are not engaging in this dialogue to discover a new way of being tolerant with each other but also accepting that not everyone has to love us for us to feel good about ourselves.

    And if you do wish to criticize the state of ELT in Greece, you should be free to do so, whether your facts are all-encompassing and based on published research or just your personal experiences.

    Does that make sense?

    • Hi Marisa,

      thanks for your ‘ramble’!! I enjoyed it immensely.

      You ‘being more relaxed’ attitude reminds me of my ex-boss (now heading the ‘language’ pages of Modern English Teacher) who always advised that you should never send any kind of letter for at least 24 hours after the initial burst of outrage/anger – or even longer…until that rush of the blood of the head has slowed down and reason can take over. Then you can a=engage with the argument. This seems to me to be very good advice, and when I take it (which is seldom, I am ashamed to say) I feel quite impressed with myself! The thing about Twitter and the Blogosphere, of course, is that most people (?) don’t wait.

      As for criticising other countries…well I just think such criticism needs to be informed and not too generalised.

      But this social networking world is our world and in the end it is what e make it. I’m still a relatively new boy so I don’t really have a right to comment at all. I’m finding my way around like everyone else!


  17. Hi Jeremy,

    May I add my “usual” incendiary voice to a very inflamed debate.

    Lighten up! Everyone!

    I’m new to twitter in the sense I only personally started tweeting a few weeks ago. But that has given me a fresh set of eyes. I’m in no way new to the internet and have been involved in social networking and education before most of the ELT world even knew that a mouse wasn’t something that only ran up the clock. And that let’s me see that all this “Metatweeting” is just a lot of gossip and huffuffle. As old as Cain slew Abel.

    What I mean is — there are thousands, hundreds of thousands of teachers using the internet and NOT listening to this small little microcosm of twitterites. A lot of us teachers involved with technology and education are forgetting this and pretending this is the dance and taking it MUCH too seriously. It is insider (but whose “inside” I’d question) gossip. A sort of first stage of evolution but please don’t fall for this “chicken little” and the “sky is falling” stuff. Most teachers don’t give a tweet about who twitted twat. Let’s remember these are tempests in a teapot.

    I say this just to put some perspective on things. Gavin’s ideal will win in the end, it just needs time for that to happen and all the horn blowers to finish with their half tuned trumpeting. Eventually, people will stop seeing it as an egofest and follower fest and fess down and really, really start using it as a way to engage in educational issues that matter. THEN and only then will the mass of teachers that use technology, begin to listen and hear the tweets that ring in a new day. Teachers have great noses…they will go where they will be fed!

    Until then, it will be a blood sport. I’ll end with the following. Who on twitter is stopping their want of a following?

    Once this happens, maybe then, we will begin to emerge from the stage of carnivals and bread and circuses and use twitter for small conversations and sharing resources of immense value (and not a lot of Meta Tweeting).

    That’s my take and appreciate everyone’s hilltop view.


    • Hi David,

      I give a tweet about the fact that you twitted and it wasn’t twatt (please note the double ‘t’ so people don’t misunderstand!)

      I agree that in our little world the danger of inward-looking narcissism is pretty high. And clearly in evidence in our little circle!

      At the moment I still find Twitter a great medium because I do laugh sometimes, I am pleased to hear what people are doing and where they are, I like hearing about new and interesting IT and other educational sites and experiences, and I like being ‘connected’ – the rainbow bridge of prose and passion!

      I just fon’t really see the need for blood-letting, that’s all, I guess.


  18. I like you David, decent comment…

    Ah no, certainly nobody has to follow my ‘reign of terror’ – a blog invites comments, and these are personal. The comments I have logged are personal. I still think it’s about ‘social media’ and not about ‘social MEdia’, but perhaps I’m a lone voice in the love-fest and self-back-scratching carnival that appears recently, but you know, when I see someone posting a link to a webpage that lauds them and them alone, I wonder just how insecure they are, and if they wouldn’t be better off playing somewhere else, perhaps with a therapist…

    But again, that might just be me. People who crave publicity get off on all this discussion, of course – so it might just be time to move on and forget. And the post-modern subversion of ‘bigging onesself up in a post-ironic fashion’ is as desperate as the original version, which displayed a complete lack of self-awareness or respect for the efforts of others who were online when some of these people were grumping about ‘them kids and their Internets’…

    Again, I smell the whiff of desperation, of loss of respect, of loss of audience, and of being reduced to a small fish in a big pond. It’s in the air, all around us.

    And blowing one’s own trumpet doesn’t solve the deeper problem of the media having escaped their control, of a blogger in, say, Chile, being more famous than the people who have worked twenty years in the public eye. Unfair it may be, but you don’t ‘win hearts and minds’ by shouting ‘Hey, I know it’s funny, but look at me – aren’t I great? Don’t you just love me?’. No, that will not work long-term…

    At the end of the day, everyone has the right to do exactly what they like with Twitter, or on their own blog, or wherever – and we all equally have a right to laugh at their insecurity or lack of understanding of the medium, or simply to accept it, love it, or whatever.

    Looking back (if those who refer to a ‘twatwa’ in a very humouros fashion, or mock other religions by talking of ‘fatwas’ and the ‘Twitter taliban’ feel they can possibly be bothered) what they’ll see in my original post is a set of opinions – nothing more. Strongly-held opinions, I’ll grant you that, but opinions nonetheless.

    No laws laid down, no rules imposed, simply my opinion that the online world is becoming as much a victim to the odious eighties Thatcherite dream of ‘no such thing as society, every man/woman for him/herself, shoot the poor’, of everyone out for him/herself as the real world became. And just as that odious idea died out, so will this one.

    There is no room for narcissism in a connected, social world. Christ, people have been saying this for decades (‘ask not what you country…’, etc., etc.) – it really is not about individuals, but about how individuals come together to help, aid, assist, train, develop each other. There is no place for the ‘me, me’ approach in that equation.

    And just to clarify one point – as I have already stated elsewhere, I like to hear about people’s successes and triumphs, their troubles and tribulations, their projects and all the rest. What I was originally saying was, essentially, the following:

    If all you post on Twitter and your blog is news about you, links to posts about you, links to reviews of your work, retweets of comments about you, retweets of comments about your work, etc., etc – If you don’t share, if you don’t give back to the community that shares every day with you, then you are a leech, and you should not expect much admiration or respect. People may follow you out of interest for your work, but they certainly won’t follow you out of any love or respect…

    It’s been a highly-charged two weeks, but this will all work itself out as we head into winter holidays, people are refreshed and they return to their online communities with a calmer attitude (myself included). I have simply filtered the leeches into a separate group in Tweetdeck – they now bother me en masse, rather than in the glorious stream of people who enrich every day for me.

    Why do I keep them? Well, I actually like the work they do, I just don’t like their ‘love me, love my work, you all owe me a living’ approach to new media. But hey, that’s their right and I’m not about to campaign for that to be taken away from them. They don’t need me to shoot them in the foot, they’re already doing it far nore effectively themselves.

    Roll on the holidays, let’s all get back to blogging, sharing, comparing, thanking, accepting, giving and leave the leeches to feed off each other’s blood until they die out…

    Pax, happy holidays, have a good rest, see you on the other side.


  19. As the unrepentant über-leech in this discussion, let me put on record that I will carry on misbehaving, being deliberately, even gleefully, provocative, and testing to the limits the elasticity of this emergent medium, so long as (a) the self-appointed twitter mullahs (no offence to my many taliban friends) insist on imposing their homespun twitter morality, and (b) my fellow tweeters keep following me (as they appear to want to do) and that my following population keeps growing – an indicator, surely, that my offences are not grievous. One of the (few) nice things about twitter is that it’s a free country. You vote with your tweet.

    So, those who choose to follow me will simply have to put up with me.

    • Scott,

      You surely can’t say fairer than that – basically you reserve the right to do your dance routine every time your parents have friends round for dinner in order to take the limelight off everyone else and shine it onto you, where the worship is surely best-placed, right? And if people don’t like your constant ‘look at me, I’m brilliant’ tweets, they can unfollow you? Surely you’re right.

      But you do make it difficult for people who respect your work (you’ll remember the video I did for the British Council in which I named you as one of the most influential people in ELT – and, by the way, do feel free to tweet that endlessly so we all know how great you are) to keep up with what you’re doing and your latest thoughts without having to wade through your self-posted links to Amazon glorification, etc. I guess they could just read the blog, but that’s really only a small part of what makes up a person.

      I’m not sure… I keep thinking I should unfollow you, but then I know at some point you’re going to post something facetious and ill-informed about technology based on an article from 1978 and I’m going to want to comment on that. It really is a very difficult decision to make – take the preening whilst waiting for the (very) occasional bit of content or shared link, or simply walk away. As you can see, it’s a constant source of worry to me…

      Turning ‘extreme narcissism and disregard for the community’ into ‘testing to the limits the elasticity of this emergent medium’ is one of the most laughable ways of looking at this I think I’ve ever seen. Stupidly I didn’t realise you were conducting an extremely clever experiment. Gah!

      • I just conducted an extremely clever experiment. I posted a tweet warning everyone out there that I was going to “disregard the community” by indulging in “extreme narcissism” and inviting them to register their indignation either by unfollowing me or tweeting “No, Scott, don’t!”

        The result: a deafening silence. It appears that the community I am disregarding is quite small – maybe just one?

    • Gosh, I am not sure I want to intervene in this discussion between two people who tweets I read with genuine amusement and interest (quite apart from my view of them in RL)!

      Of course anyone has the right to tweet themselves to the sky if they want. Twitter is like that (e.g. it is what we make of it) as others have said in this blog discussion and in many places elsewhere. I don’t especially enjoy fortissimo trumpet-blowing (unless I’m doing it, of course), but hey, there was a discussion recently where @thornburyscott (that’s you, Scott!) and @kenwilsonlondon (that’s Ken Wilson, of course) disagreed in a spirited fashion about what Twitter is FOR. So no one is every going to agree, really. Well, in the end it is for US to do with as we will. No rules, no prohibitions.

      Just a plea for manners – as in any other social milieu.

      So, no more talk of unfollowing, and challenges to unfollow! When you follow someone you do so because you are interested in what they might say (or the pictures they might offer). It doesn’t mean that you agree with everything they say or like everything they do (like over-self-publicising). It does mean that overall, you like to hear what they are doing and thinking (even if you turn your head away at some of it).

      Like friends, really.

      But as I tweeted a few days ago, Tim Adams wrote a lovely article about online inward-looking in the Observer last weekend. We are in danger, perhaps of taking ourselves too seriously. As a terrible narcissist myself, I can only subscribe to that worry!


  20. I don’t know why we’re bothering, to be honest – it’s all so undignified, two old men shouting at each other from across an increasingly wide gulf. I think we’ll just have to agree to disagree on what makes up ‘social’…

    But for the record, your Twitter follower count is now down by two people, from 831 to 829… Obviously more than one person cares, then, since I’m still there… (I got a screenshot, just for my records for when I write up my own experiment in the elasticity of the emergent medium!)

    And now I do most solemnly promise not to get into any more discussions about angels dancing on pinheads. Life is too short, there are too many better things to be doing. It’s been interesting, but I suspect this particular debate will not be sorely missed.

    Enjoy the rest of the weekend,


    • Hi Denilso,

      now that is kind of interesting. People can use the media how they want! And maybe ‘MEdia’ IS just as valid as ‘media’??

      It’s great fun to see how different people use the online world, isn’t it!


  21. Jeremy,

    Well, look – as I just said on Twitter, and as you said (sort of) in your blog posting here – it’s been a bit of a ‘storming’ phase on blogs and Twitter this week. Next week I suspect it’ll all calm down and we’ll be back to ‘performing’. I’ve enjoyed all these ‘charged’ discussions this week – shows how diverse and opinionated and interested most of us are. I think it was Diarmuid who said that if it was all love and ‘yeah, I agree’ we wouldn’t get very far.

    Sorry for hijacking your blog. Hope you had a nice day 🙂


    • I don’t think my blog was ‘hijacked’! People got/have got a lot of stuff off their chests, for sure. With any luck they’ll all feel better by the time Monday comes!

      In the end, I guess online is where we do whatever we want – and then see how people feel about it. Some people do it more robustly than others, though. I just hope they don’t cause too much unintended offence along the way…


  22. Hi Jeremy
    Your responses to everyone are kind and generous, and you’re a very good host of a very good blog. But two things …
    OK, I’m a newcomer but I really don’t get why people want to slug it out on your blog and not on their own. Haven’t they got their own blogs to go home to?
    Like you, I feel uncomfortable about Karenne Sylvester’s post, but it’s Sara Hannam who has the courage to say why we feel uncomfortable. Good for her!
    I don’t want to go too far out on a limb either, but there is a slight atmosphere of threat which makes us newcomers hesitate before pressing on the SUBMIT icon. I don’t really want to read about friends and colleagues who I admire so very much trying to score points off each other. But them I’m hopelessly old-fashioned.
    As David says (who I like too!) Lighten up! And Jeremy, you’re very good at encouraging newcomers to join in. Thanks. Can we move on?

    • Hi Simon,

      thank YOU for your nice comments. They have quite made my day.

      You don’t sound old-fashioned. And all this ‘slugging-it-out’ is a bit tiresome, perhaps!

      I feel light and festive, too. On. Move. On!


  23. Too many big ego-sharks in the pond? Good to see the majority of people in this talented group reasserting that we are not about gossip and backstabbing but committed to sharing, encouraging, building a community and promoting good teaching practice. What’s been going on is none of these things.

    • Hi Patrick,

      yes, I agree that some things have been going awry. Hopefully everything’s back in place!

      I like the twittersphere and the blogosphere – perhaps Ken’s right (see his comment) that we’ve all just been having a slightly drunken dinner party that went wrong!!


  24. There are some good things here, Jeremy, that I can walk away with and think about and try to incorporate into my future online social media forays… As you so rightly point out, a lot of this comes down to good manners, which many of us appear to have forgotten. Sitting around a table talking about these things, knowing the whole ELT world could hear us, we (or at least most of us, I’d like to believe) wouldn’t be talking like this in a lot of ways – so why online? The substance has been worthy, but not the means of tackling it (in some cases).

    Thanks for handling the issues here so even-handedly and with the sensitivity for which you’ve become quite well-known.

    • Many thanks for this, Jason. It has certainly been a bumpy ride – and/but I hope everyone feels a bit better now!

      Onwards to a happy holiday? I’m off to Mexico, me ….


  25. Jeremy (and many others above),

    Sensible, sensitive answers and approaches.

    Personally speaking I’m tired of the last two weeks, but I do think there was a sort of ‘stormng’ and ‘norming’ going on there – both Twitter and the blogosphere have got much busier over the last few months in terms of ELT people, and it’s realistic to expect that some re-balancing of the group was going to happen and that the group dynamics would experience change and a certain disquiet.

    Glad it’s all over though – I’m going back to my past existence of enjoying the people in my PLN, contributing to the discussions about technology and refusing to get wound up by anyone at all. That’s going to be my New Year’s Resolution – stay the hand, etc., think five times before feeling the need to respond, drink chamomile tea, approach zen-like calm with the help of Tibetan bowls in the iPhone… Roll on January 1st.

    Have a good time in Mexico.


    • Thanks Gavin,

      read the last line of Milton’s Samson Agonistes. I have never decided whether it describes heaven or hell!

      (I am supposed to be flying to Mexico on December 25, no less, though with a looming British Airways strike, who knows whether that will actually happen!)


      • Jeremy,

        Shall revisit the litereature – thanks. Flying on December 25th is a joy (provided your plane actually leaves)…

        Business or pleasure, Sir?


  26. I say, what a thoroughly entertaining conversation!

    I read the first five comments a few days ago, and was alerted by tweet-world that something was kicking off, so read the next 1,367 comments in one go.

    The picture that comes to mind is a Harmer dinner party where the host says someting interesting (but in that self-doubting and self-deprecating way of his) and somehow two or three people round the table start snarling at each other, deep-seated anger comes out, and the conversation veers off far away from the original point. It happens at all the best dinner parties (well, at the most memorable ones, anyway).

    A few years ago, Dede and I were invited to a dinner party on our island in Canada. We took with us an ELT-luminary-who-cannot-be-named who was visiting us from England. Somehow, the ELTLWCBN and me got into a blazing row about something. We were so locked in it that, when I looked around, the table was empty. Dede was asleep on a sofa, the other guests had gone home and the host had gone to bed, and was gently snoring within ear-shot.

    Nothing like that is going to happen here – but I recommend you go back and read the comments again and picture everyone round the same table, smmiling at some fellow-guests and snarling at others.

    Thank goodness for the blogosphere, what?

    • Hi Ken,

      I love the dinner party analogy, It works really well in this context. And I have been you (as it were) and found the table empty as I locked horns with someone or other. Ouch.

      I hope that this sudden eructation we’ve all been experiencing has helped to clear the air somehow!

      Until the next diner party/time!


      • Hmm…

        Being but a young whippersnapper (!) I’ve yet to lock ELT horns with anyone around the dinner table, though obviously have sinned in that respect on line this year.

        I imagine it knocks the stuffing out of a decent dinner (at least for the other diners) and have concluded that it probably does the same online for those who simply want to enjoy the meal of interacting and sharing with others.

        So I shall henceforth be the one asleep on the sofa, I think. Once bitten, twice shy.


  27. First of all, congratulations Jeremy on the new blog. You’ve obviously got your finger on the pulse of the discussion judging by the deluge of comments. As always, I’m a bit late to the party, but it’s good to read the whole discussion as it played out.

    I think this is a pertinent topic for those tweeting with large followings and new comers alike. There are a lot of lessons to be learned from this argument/discussion. I also think it’s equally encouraging to see so many voices expressing opinions and discouraging to see a few punches being thrown.

    To be an active member of this community you need to listen and respond. The principles that should be followed on Twitter are as old as professional communication. You just have to pick up a copy of ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ (published in 1928? maybe) and make a few adjustments. It’s nothing really new, it’s just people see Twitter as a broadcasting tool, and it really isn’t. It’s a way to make one on one connections in a simple choppy format much like a normal house party. For those that haven’t read Dale Carnegie’s book I’ll paraphrase -> Listen, smile, know people’s names.


    • Hi Neal,

      great comments, thanks. I agree that expressing opinions is a ‘good thing’, but dislike punches being thrown!

      Twitter IS a broadcast tool, actually (what are you doing today?), and there’s nothing wrong with that. But without the ‘listen, smile, know people’s names’ part of it, that broadcasting sounds, to my ears, strident and unattractive.

      Does that make sense?


  28. Hi Jeremy

    Very fascinating! I seem to be getting to these parties a bit late at the moment.

    Last week was my first week on twitter, so I must say it’s been the proverbial baptism of fire.

    A couple of things I’ve noticed: I don’t want to offend anyone, but I think we’re all in a way trying to sell something, whether it’s books, consultancy, courses or whatever. How we go about might differ slightly, be more or less subtle , or PC. Someone pointed out that there’s nothing that says that particular values go along with twitter. I think as a community we get very uptight about this selling business, but it’s actually OK. It really is.

    I live now in a very small community in a country in which ‘community’ is a cultural code word. Anyone who’s selling anything-and I mean anything-has to make big noises about the importance of community and ‘giving back’. And it’s true – community is important- but it doesn’t stop it also being a very wonderful medium in which to do business.

    Anyway, I still don’t quite know what twitter is for, but I’m enjoying finding out:)


    • Hi Sue,

      well u turned up on Twitter just as everyone was getting all worked up about stuff (which is why I blogged as i did).

      Maybe it’s all a matter of style? Twitter is, as someone has pointed out, narcissistic by its very nature. ‘what are you doing?’ it says, as if anyone cared. So there cannot be a reason why people shouldn’t sell themselves as much as they want.

      But I guess (I’ve been thinking about this)that it all depends how you do it. We’re all selling ourselves and what we do in some way, whether for money or love!, but when it looks to self-regarding then it just kind of feels ‘wrong’.

      But of course, it may only feel wrong like that to certain people. My ‘wrong’ may not be yours.

      I used the word ‘manners’ earlier on (can’t believe I did that). I’ll add ‘style’ to that?


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  31. I really enjoyed stumbling on this discussion today. I just have to say ditto to Jason Renshaw. I read blog posts via updates I find on Twitter from many of you whether it comes in the form of an RT or a self-promoting tweet. Please don’t stop tweeting your own stuff or I might not stumble across it. It doesn’t serve any purpose to “judge” how others use a platform.

    • Hi Tara,

      thanks for coming along whether through stumbling or any other way!!

      I guess I pretty much agree with Jason and you – that judging doesn’t actually help. Sometimes ~I find others erring on the side of ‘over-self-promotion’ (something I would never DREAM of, obviously!!!) and that turns me off a bit, but in the end it’s their choice – and mine to ignore them if that’s what I want to do…

      Keep coming along!!


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