Social Disconnection II: Deleting My Twitter and Reddit Accounts

Back in 2013 and after long deliberation, I deleted my Facebook, Google+, and Academia.edu accounts. Then, I deleted my Flickr/Yahoo and LinkedIn accounts. Now, I’ve wiped out my Twitter and Reddit accounts.

I used Twitter for seven-and-a-half years and had posted nearly 10,000 tweets (this number ebbed after cleaning up a hoard of past tweets). And I had a Reddit account for four years, and I had a healthy number of upvotes for my LEGO-related posts and discussions there.

I leveraged my Twitter and Reddit accounts to keep up with what’s going on in my profession as well as learn and contribute to other areas of interest including computer culture and LEGO. However, my cost for keeping up to date was considerable in terms of time and cognitive effort. And while I saw, read, and learned a lot from the work of social media, actionable returns–what I think of as a meaningful returns in terms of conversation, connections, and opportunities–were very small.

Ultimately, my decision to further reduce my social media footprint was based on these issues:

  • Cost (time, attention, and cognitive load)
  • Content (anxiety over posting, persistent needle-in-the-haystack problem for finding useful information)
  • Discourse (challenge to follow threads, gain background information for out-of-context posts, rage cycles, hot takes, fear of missing out)
  • Connection (so many discussions but uncertain where to contribute, sustaining conversation, social media not leading to projects outside of that realm)
  • People (nonsense, bullshit, bigotry, and sexism; e.g., disheartening cases of disconnection between how some users comport in online LEGO communities and elsewhere)

Of course, there are arguments for remaining on social media, such as maintaining a professional presence on these platforms, publicizing the work that you and others do, discovering new and compelling work that isn’t amplified elsewhere, and leveraging social media to expand discourse through discussion, debate, and public engagement. For me, however, the daily reality of these platforms do not live up to the promise or potential with which they are often sold to end users.

My choices and these issues will inform how I approach social media in my classes. The reality for many of my students–especially those entering the field of technical communication–will need and rely on various social media platforms for their professional work and advancement. I think that informed, strategic, and purposeful social media choices are the best for them and others. I’m looking forward to these upcoming discussions in the classroom.

For now, I’m going to remain blogging here at dynamicsubspace.net and posting videos on my YouTube channel.

If you’d like to trim your social media presence, Wired has a guide for deleting the most popular social media accountsThese instructions show how to deactivate your Twitter account. After 30 days of inactivity, your account and its content are deleted. And, these instructions tell you how to delete your Reddit account. One caveat: Your posts and comments will remain unless you take steps to remove or edit them. In my case, I manually deleted them, but there are automated approaches, such as Shreddit and Nuke Reddit History for Firefox or Chrome.

My “Writing the Brain” Twitter Assignment Appears in Twenty Writing Assignments in Context, Ed. by Melissa Bender and Karma Waltonen

978-1-4766-6509-2My “Writing the Brain” assignment, which helps students understand how different media (Twitter, photography, posters, and essays) shape and change their messages, appears in Melissa Bender and Karma Waltonen’s edited collection, Twenty Writing Assignments in Context: An Instructor’s Resource for the Composition Classroom. Melissa and Karma put a lot of good work into curating this guide of innovative assignments. Each chapter includes an assignment, its rationalization, and examples of student work. I’m proud to have my assignment included with the engaging pedagogical work of its other contributors!

Twenty Writing Assignments in Context can be purchased from McFarland & CoAmazon (Kindle version available, too), or Barnes and Noble. More information about the book is included below.

Twenty Writing Assignments in Context
An Instructor’s Resource for the Composition Classroom

Edited by Melissa Bender and Karma Waltonen

Print ISBN: 978-1-4766-6509-2
Ebook ISBN: 978-1-4766-2729-8
21 photos, notes, bibliographies, index
288pp. softcover (6 x 9) 2017

$35.00

About the Book
Twenty original, classroom-tested assignments: This innovative collection of college writing assignments explores the practical applications of each lesson. Drawing upon current best practices, each chapter includes a discussion of the rationale behind the assignment, along with supplemental elements such as guidelines for evaluation, prewriting exercises and tips for avoiding common pitfalls. The assignments are designed for a range of courses, from first-year composition to upper-division writing in various disciplines.

Table of Contents
Introduction
The Rhetoric of Everyday Objects: An Assignment Sequence, Melissa Bender
Writing and Designing Informational Booklets for International Exchange Students, M. Ann BradyFraming the Personal Narrative: Composition and Documentary Film, Jodie Childers
Blogging Advanced Composition, Elisa Cogbill-Seiders, Ed Nagelhout, and Denise Tillery
Proposal Writing in Technical Communications, Barbara J. D’Angelo
Past Meets Present: Exploring the University Archives to Compose and Connect, Christine Denecker
Writing the Brain: A Multimodal Assignment Sequence, Jason W. Ellis
Making Financial Contracts User-Friendly: Conducting Research, Redesigning Documents and Proposing Changes in the Workplace, Sara K. Gunning
Geobiographies: A Place-Based Assignment Sequence, Jim Henry
The Discipline Resource Guide Website, Dalyn Luedtke
Global Urban Centers: A Rhetorical Analysis of Street Art, Gerald Maki
The Academic Discourse Project, Gracemarie MiKe
Political Cartoons and Multimodal Composition: The Visual Argument Assignment, Erin Dee Moore
Researching and Writing a History of Composition-Rhetoric, Lori Ostergaard
Critical Analysis of a Wikipedia Entry, Gwendolynne Reid
“In the Year”: Using Website Design for ePortfolios, Katherine Robbins
Workplace Document Analysis and Evaluation, Melissa Vosen Callens
The Partner Project: Advanced Argument, Karma Waltonen
Captain Discourse and Other Heroes:  Learning about Writing Research through Comic Books, Courtney L. Werner and Nicole I. Caswell
Critical Analysis of Student Ethnography, Abby Wilkerson

About the Authors
Melissa Bender is a lecturer in the University Writing Program and the assistant director of the Writing Across the Curriculum Program at the University of California, Davis. Her interests include professional writing, visual rhetoric, composition and international education. A former president of the Margaret Atwood Society, Karma Waltonen is a senior lecturer in the University Writing Program at the University of California, Davis, where she won the Academic Federation Excellence in Teaching Award in 2015.

Social Media Workshop on Professionalization and Pedagogy, May 12, 2015, 3:00-4:00PM

Twitter_logo_blueToday, I’m leading a workshop on social media as a tool for professionalization and as a tool for pedagogy. I am including some of the details from the workshop flyer below. You can download the flyer here: ellis-jason-socialmedia-workshop and my workshop notes here: ellis-jason-social-media-workshop.

Social Media Workshop on Professionalization and Pedagogy

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

3:00PM-4:00PM

Namm 321 Conference Room

Organizer: Jason W. Ellis | Email: jellis at citytech dot cuny dot edu | Twitter: @dynamicsubspace

Social media is an increasingly important communication tool for our students and us. We are integrating it into our daily practices, and it, like any new communication medium, is changing the way we think and connect with others.

As scholars, we can leverage social media to promote our research, share ideas with colleagues, and collaborate on projects and network building. As educators, we can guide and mentor our students in responsible and meaningful ways of using social media.

In this workshop, we will discuss several popular social media platforms that we can use in our professionalization and pedagogy, and develop rhetorically grounded strategies for using social media as scholars and educators.

Some of the professional strategies discussed will include: sharing and promoting our work, and establishing and maintaining professional networks. Some of the pedagogical areas addressed will include: composition, and professional and technical writing.

Please bring your questions, ideas, and experiences, or if you can’t make it, let’s continue the discussion online!

Discussion topics and other resources are listed on the reverse side.

Some Topics for Discussion:

  • Rhetoric and Multimodality (WOVEN: written, oral, visual, electronic, and nonverbal)
  • Audience(s)
  • Network Building (breadth versus depth)
  • Risk Assessment
  • Online Identity, Metadata, and Commodification of the Self
  • Managing an Emergent Online Identity
  • Social Media Assignments for Composition and Technical Communication
  • Personal versus Professional Spheres, or Is There a Division?
  • Assignment Ideas
  • Reflection Exercises

Some Social Media Platforms Discussed:

Resources Discussed:

Atlanta Science Fiction Society Talk on Teaching SF at Georgia Tech, Tomorrow

Atlanta Science Fiction Society logo.

Atlanta Science Fiction Society logo.

If you’re in the area tomorrow, you can catch my talk on teaching science fiction at Georgia Tech at the Atlanta Science Fiction Society meeting at the Sandy Springs Fulton County Library (395 Mount Vernon Hwy NE, Sandy Springs, GA). The meeting begins at 2:30PM, and my talk should begin around 3:30PM. I will bring copies of this handout to the meeting. My talk with focus on the history of teaching SF at Tech, my historical approach to teaching SF, and my emphasis on using SF as a way to develop student literacies in writing, new media, and haptics.

Science Fiction, LMC3214, Summer 2014: On-Campus and Online Hybrid Class, Syllabus and Structure

Beginning tomorrow, I will lead a new kind of Science Fiction LMC3214 class at Georgia Tech for 35 students.

As part of the Summer Online Undergraduate Program, I will teach about 10 on-campus students with face-to-face lecture, discussion, and exercises. Our weekly class meetings will be recorded in a Distance Learning classroom and made available to my 25 other students in the class who are off-campus and online.

Each section of students will receive the same lecture material and be required to complete the same assignments, but the online students will not have the benefit of realtime interaction with me and the other students. At least, they won’t be required to be. My intent is to test a way of facilitating simultaneous and asynchronous discussion with the help of Twitter. On-campus and off-campus students will use Twitter to facilitate discussion, ask questions, and share relevant material. They will also be asked to respond to one another’s sharing and questions. In the beginning, I will act as a mediator to connect students together and help build our initial discussions. It will be up to the students to sustain the conversations as a component of their participation grade. You will be able to follow along with the discussion (and contribute, too!) by following the hashtag: #lmc3214.

I have some new ideas and material that I am going to try out in this summer’s Science Fiction class. Last summer, my Science Fiction class was held during the short summer session, which made it difficult to cover more material and challenging for students to learn the material in such a compressed period of time. This summer’s class covers the full Summer semester, so I think that we can space things out, look at more examples, and help one another understand Science Fiction’s significances better.

I’m looking forward to this new class and meeting my new students–on-campus and off-campus alike.

Here’s a copy of our syllabus with details on assignments, Twitter use, and reading/viewing schedule: ellis-jason-lmc3214-syllabus-full.

Support Files for My Module of DevLab Social Media Pedagogy and Assignments Workshop

Twitter_logo_blueAs part of DevLab’s 2014 Workshop Series at Georgia Tech, Valerie Johnson and I will be leading a discussion today about the use of social media strategically as a part of our pedagogy and tactically in our assignments. We encourage Britts to share their approaches to social media use during the workshop, raise questions about the use of social media pedagogically, and brainstorm new approaches for social media use in the classroom (repurposing, developing literacy, collaboration, asynchronous discussion, participation options, etc.). I am including my workshop notes and files below.

Notes

  • I use Twitter in the classroom for collecting thoughts before discussion, reflecting on reading before writing formal summaries, encouraging discussion/backchannel between students, and demonstrating ways of turning social media to our own purposes (collecting individual thoughts/dataset, professional discussion, and transforming/translating compositions from one media form to another).
  • Discuss WOVEN (written, oral, visual, electronic, and nonverbal) potential for social media platforms including Twitter.
  • William Gibson, “the street finds its own uses for things,” from “Burning Chrome” in Omni, July 1982.
    • Repurpose social media for our needs, purposes, and use.
    • Use social media to collect data, build a data set, and cite data in future self-focused research projects.
  • Develop digital literacy–understand how the technology works, use the technology in different ways, see models of different uses of the technology, and critique how others use the technology.
  • Audience awareness–public facing, multiple audiences, and unintended audiences.
  • Ephemerality and permanence.
  • Examine how the medium effects/shapes/is the message. Mention Marshall McLuhan’s Understanding Media and “the medium is the message.”
    • Transform compositions from one medium to another, share these transformations with peers to observe reception, and discuss how the message might change, lead to misunderstandings, or be more effective (e.g., Twitter > Storify > poster > essay).
    • Explore how we can use rhetoric to maximize each medium’s possibilities to persuasively communicate our message to audiences.
  • Bridging discussion across sections of the same course–especially for students on-campus and off-campus (Summer Online Undergraduate Program–see LMC3214 syllabus below).

Files

Spring 2014 Classes and First Assignments: ENGL1101 and LCC3403 at Georgia Tech

This semester, I am teaching three classes at Georgia Tech: two sections of ENGL1101/English Composition I and one section of LCC3403/Technical Communication.

My ENGL1101 class focuses on learning about rhetoric and multimodality with the neurosciences and evolutionary psychology. My LCC3403 class focuses on a hands-on and collaborative approach to user-centric research, design, testing, and revision.

In both classes, I have revamped my syllabi to try new things such as new parameters for the first major project in ENGL1101 (Twitter, Storify, Poster, and Essay) and a more guided approach to the first major project in LCC3403 (designing a Lego model, creating instructions, testing instructions, and revising instructions). I made changes in both classes based on my observations and reflections and my students’ course survey (CIOS) comments.

You can see my Spring 2014, ENGL1101 Syllabus and first major project assignment (Writing the Brain for Success with Twitter, Storify, Poster, and Essay) here: ellis-jason-2014spring-engl1101-syllabus and ellis-jason-engl1101-01-assignment.

And, you can see my Spring 2014, LCC3403 Syllabus and first major project assignment (Lego, Haptics, and User-Centric Design) here: ellis-jason-2014spring-LMC3403-syllabus and ellis-jason-lmc3403-unit1-assignment.

It’s the second week of classes and now things are in full swing. I am looking forward to seeing what my students create, do, and learn. If you see me carrying around Yorick to/from ENGL1101 or boxes of Lego to/from LCC3403, ask me how it’s going!

Join Me and Fellow Brittain Fellows Mollie Barnes and Marty Fink for “Engaging Students via Class-Related Social Media” Brown Bag

CETL Engaging Conversations Poster.

Register at the link below to join Brittain Fellows Mollie Barnes, Marty Fink, and me at the upcoming Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning (CETL) Engaging Conversation Series Brown Bag: “Engaging Students via Class-Related Social Media.” Mollie, Marty, and I have some great pedagogical stuff to share and discuss with the brown bag participants on using social media, questioning the use/purposes of social media, and engaging students with social media. I hope that others will share their approaches and ask awesome questions.

Writing the Brain Assignment Poster.

In my presentation, I will discuss my “Writing the Brain” assignment [ellis-jason-engl1101-01-assignment] from my ENGL1101 course at Georgia Tech. In this assignment, students use different media to express their thoughts on Twitter, Storify, a visual poster, and a five-page essay. I have adjusted the assignment this semester so that instead of charting their thoughts overall, they now focus on those thoughts related to their academic, professional, and life goals. Also, I no longer require them to use ComicLife for the visual poster–they may use it or any other software for creating a poster with photographs and drawings of their own creation. The poster embedded at the beginning of this paragraph explains an earlier iteration of the assignment.

The information and registration link for the event are included below.

ENGAGING CONVERSATIONS SERIES

Engaging Students via Class-Related Social Media

October 2, 2013

12:00 to 1:00 p.m.

Student Center, Piedmont Room

Brown Bag Luncheon

Song of Myself and Social Media: 

Teaching Reading Practices through Tweets

Mollie Barnes, School of Literature, Media, and Communication

Writing the Brain: 

Using Twitter and Storify in a 

Multistep and Multimodal Project

Jason W. Ellis, School of Literature, Media, and Communication

Autobiography of the Selfie: 

Multimodal Engagements with Instagram

Marty Fink, School of Literature, Media, and Communication

The Georgia Tech Brittain Fellows are collectively leading the way on campus with the use of social media in their classes.  In this session, three Brittain Fellows will highlight how they are using Twitter, Storify, Tumblr and Instagram for teaching and learning.  The Fellows will provide brief demos of the platforms, share their experiences with student assignments that range from using tweets as reading notes to semester-long projects that integrate social media with posters and essays, and discuss the challenges of FERPA.

REGISTER

Social Disconnection: Choosing the Online Networks that Suit My Needs without Causing Excessive Distraction

The decision to disconnect from some social networking sites is what I call social disconnection. The commitments–time, social capital, and energy–of social media can take away from real life work and personal commitments. Furthermore, there are addictive qualities to some of these networks that require energy to resist and this can create other kinds of anxiety beyond your own use of these social networks. Social disconnection is about finding the networks that suit each of us best instead of connecting to the most popular or as many as possible.

Social disconnection for me is about finding the right balance and types of social networking to support my personal and professional relationships. My thoughts in this post concern my experiences and are in no way meant as a prescription for others to simply disconnect themselves from social media. I believe that we all have to find the networks where we feel comfortable, contributing, and supported.

Over the years, I have tried out different forms of social media including earlier forms like AIM, Friendster, and MySpace. Most recently, I had accounts on Google+, Facebook, Academia.edu, Flickr, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Over the past few weeks, I have culled this list to only three: Twitter, Flickr, and LinkedIn. I have included my thoughts below on why I deleted accounts on some sites and maintain accounts on others.

I began my social disconnection project by unplugging from Google+, because it was the most low stakes account to delete. Google+ was a virtual ghost town from my perspective (perhaps if I had Google Glass my perspective would be different). I rarely saw any updates from people in my Circles. Furthermore, the Google+ UI elements in Gmail and YouTube were a nagging distraction to me. I have now exited the ghost town and the irritating Google+ update indicators of nothingness are gone from my Google property experiences [instructions for downgrading from Google+ here].

Next, I disconnected from Facebook. This was more difficult for a number of reasons. First, I joined Facebook at the beginning of fall semester of 2005 and shortly thereafter my friend Tessa “broke my Wall virginity” on September 4, 2005. Two other friends at Tech had convinced me to signup for an account on TheFaceBook.com, because it was cool and everyone else was doing it. In the beginning, it was an interesting experiment in keeping connected and staying in the know, but as time passed and more people joined Facebook, it increasingly became more annoying and distracting. There is the troubling semiotics of the “Like” button. There are many daily Facebook tasks of social convention. There are the time-consuming conversations (sometimes very rewarding while at others very draining) and going no where debates. There are the unending supply of accomplishments of others that make me feel like I have my foot on the gas but my tires don’t get traction. While these things might seem like trifles, they weighed on me in big and small ways. I would spend time thinking of the right way to respond to someone. I would research things to make sure that I could contribute to a conversation meaningfully. I would want to say the right thing, but agonize over how to say it. While I tried to curtail the time that I spent on these things or change my news feed settings to better suit my update needs, I couldn’t strike the right balance to keep Facebook from eating up too much time and energy. Finally, I held on to my Facebook account through my time as SFRA Publicity Director and SFRA Vice President. With those responsibilities removed, I didn’t see as strong a reason to stay connected through Facebook. So, I downloaded my data and deleted my account [instructions for permanently deleting your Facebook account are here].

Then, I disconnected from Academia.edu. I never spent a lot of time on Academia.edu, but I always felt uneasy with this social network for sharing your work with others in your field. While I like the idea of open sharing of research and tracking the use of your research, I know that these things cannot happen for free. While the site was founded by Richard Price, about as academic an academic you can be with a PhD in Philosophy, it is a business funded by venture capitalists. It will only continue to exist if it makes money, and I wonder what role the data supplied by academics sharing all of their published and unpublished work on the site will play in the eventual ramp-up of monetization as the site continues to mature. Even though it has a grandfathered “edu” domain name, it is not an educational institution and it is not affiliated with any. Then, there’s the issue of time commitment. To use academia.edu effectively, you need to build your profile and upload your research. This takes time and energy away from working on publishable papers–still the hallmark of getting hired. While I see that the possibilities of communication and collaboration are great in a system like that provided by Academia.edu, the time and effort investment has an uncertain return on investment. The site has a lot of potential, but it has an uncertain future. I deleted my account following these instructions.

I don’t mean to sound like a social networking recluse, but I am concerned about how much time and energy I expend on these sites. I believe that by social disconnection from some sites I can remain focused on my work and better use the remaining social networking sites that I remain connected to. These include Twitter, Flickr, and LinkedIn.

I chose to stay with Twitter for sharing information with others and creating reminders of data for myself, because it is a public platform. Facebook and Academia.edu are largely private networks–you have to have an account to access them. While you can use Twitter privately, I have almost continuously used it as a public platform since I signed up. For me, it is easier to keep up with information relevant to my work and follow my friends on Twitter than on Facebook. However, if I ever change my mind, it is relatively easy to deactivate my account by following these instructions.

I have been using Flickr for a long time to share and backup my photos online. In the past, I have paid for a Pro account, but Yahoo’s changes to Flickr’s storage space have opened up even more options for using their service. I have also connected Flickr to my WordPress blog so that I can easily post updates with photos/sets from Flickr, which in turn is publicized on Twitter. However, it is easy enough to delete my Flickr account by following these instructions if things change.

LinkedIn is a site that I have only been using since late last year, and I have not been using it nearly as much as I feel that I should be. Unlike the other social networks that I have used and those that I continue to use, LinkedIn focuses on business and professional relationships. It might come in handy when seeking work. For folks in the humanities, it is particularly important to consider keeping an up-to-date profile and building appropriate connections to others through the site in addition to keeping a version of your multipage CV as a one-page resume. For these reasons, I am keeping myself plugged into LinkedIn. However, it is easy enough to delete a LinkedIn account by doing this.

My choices were governed by what I can and cannot do on a daily basis. They are not motivated by my colleagues, friends, or family on these different networks. If you want to connect with me, you know how.

Curating a Conference Backchannel with Storify: 2013 SFRA/Eaton Conference in Riverside, CA

SFRA-logoWhile I was unable to attend this year’s Science Fiction Research Association Conference, held in conjunction with the biannual Eaton Conference this year, in Riverside, California, I was able to follow along with the goings-on thanks to Facebook and Twitter. As you might know, I am a big fan of Storify as a digital curation tool, so I thought it would make it easier for me to catch up and create an archive of the tweets made during the conference with the hashtags #sfra or #SFRAton (thanks to Glyn Morgan for that one). Unfortunately, I found it too time consuming to try to incorporate #eaton posts, because it is a widely used hashtag by different communities. A word of advice to all future conference organizers: plan ahead by researching available hashtags by seeing what’s unique and unused in the Twitterverse (at least as long as Twitter is a viable backchannel tool–otherwise, go with what works best!).

If you have never used Storify before, you should check it out. Simply go to storify.com and either create a new account or login using your Facebook or Twitter account. Choose to “Create a new story,” and then search among the different social media and web options in the right column. In this case, I searched for #sfra and #sfraton under Twitter. I then loaded all of the publicly available tweets and choose to add them all to my Storify Story (in the left column). Finally, I reordered the tweets chronologically and added a title and description before choosing to publish the Storify Story. What I did is very basic. Storify’s power comes from the ability to intermix/remix tweets with links, photos, and your comments added within Storify. It would be great if other SFRA members who attended the conference to create their Storify Story that includes more comments or photos from the various events.

Follow the link below for my Storify curation of the conference and many thanks to all of the SFRA members who diligently reported on the awesomeness of this year’s conference!

[View the story “2013 Joint SFRA/Eaton Conference in Riverside, CA” on Storify]