Subscribe to SLJ
Follow This Blog: RSS feed
Neverending Search
Inside Neverending Search

Me and my networks

I am alone in my little house in the Pocono Mountains.  I come up here for as long as I can each summer to get away, to think, to write, to plan, to veg.

But "alone" is a funny word.  I am more connected than ever before. 

Take last night for instance.  I attended the Women of the Web session on EdTechTalk.  It focused on the wonderful doings of educators "down under." As I was being inspired by new Aussie contacts, as I was being mesmerized by their lovely accents, I kept up with Twitter friends all over the world, bumped around and visited the ISTE offices on Second Life’s EduIsland, joined the new EdubloggeWorldNing, and I mentored a new colleague at TeacherLibrarianNing.   By 11 PM I was more than exhausted by all this communication. 

In the past year and a half, my networks–official and unofficial–blossomed in ways I could never imagine. 

What I find most striking is the shift in my professional connections. 

I remember a time, not so long ago, when I despaired over not being able to bridge the gap among ALA’s divisions.  I didn’t communicate with folks in those other divisions.  I couldn’t attend sessions or learn what was going on across conference strands.  My committee work tied me to either AASL or YALSA.  And I had to make choices among library and education and technology conferences.

A year and a half ago my professional networking was perhaps 75 percent with fellow school librarians.  That percentage has declined, not because I communicate with fewer of our species, but because my circle is so much bigger.   My voice is bigger too. Way bigger.  Yours can be too.

When I attended EduBloggerCon at NECC, I was shocked by how many nonlibrarians told me they read my blog and that they used my chart on educational change.

The fact is I now regularly communicate with fellow educators, researchers and academics, public and special librarians, edtech directors, administrators.  I know what is going on in so many other worlds.  These connections inform my own practice.  These connections help others know what school librarians look like.  (BTW, I was so happy to see a lovely core group of TLs at EdTechTalk last night.  More than a year ago, when we tried to get a webcast going, I was the only one talking.) 

Anyway, I got to thinking about what these networks look like, and the scope of their impact so I drew a little diagram.

Click here for the html version

Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza


  1. MochaGirl says:

    I am shocked you took the time to diagram your interactions using Inspiration. I don’t know whether to be impressed or sympathetic!

  2. joycevalenza says:

    Took the time? Hmmmm. I was brainstorming. Though I considered using the open source and Web-based tools I advance here, this solid commercial product is on my desktop. No learning curve. I wanted to work fast and well. Isn’t there still room for us to allow the use of commercial software we used to rely on? Can’t we be flexible?

  3. Doug Johnson says:

    Hiya Joycie,

    I’ve been wondering a lot lately if this explosion of communication networks dilutes all relationships. Do we want a few good friends or 100 acquaintances? My “time pie” seems to be sliced into ever smaller pieces!


  4. MochaGirl says:

    Hi, Joyce. I’m not suggesting Inspiration isn’t a great product–I’m a big fan. What I was shocked at was the irony in spending time graphically displaying your interactions instead of actually interacting. It saddens me to think that an excessive web of communication avenues may actually leave of us feeling more disconnected than connected. I relate to Doug’s comments…more isn’t necessarily better…sometimes, it’s just more.

  5. Communicating with lots of folks doesn’t always mean that you’re diluting all your relationships. Connecting with ‘work’ people – especially in the school library world where it can be quite lonely – can enhance your physical world [all those ideas, all that wonderful feedback] so that you return to work energized with new things to do. Connecting with family scattered all over the world is always a lovely thing to me. But…I guess the trick is to turn it off now and then and just ‘be here now’ with those in the same room.

Speak Your Mind