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In my network confession . . .On being PLNtrenched

(With apologies to the Grass Roots.)

I want all my colleagues to have them.  I speak about them with awe and admiration at conferences.  And I probably browbeat those who are without them into being with them.

But lately, when I wake up in the middle of the night, I find that I am thinking about my PLN (that is, my professional–or personal–learning network). 

I confess.  I am hyperconnected.  And being hyperconnected is both a blessing and a curse.

Though I have accounts EVERYWHERE, I spend most of my PLN time on Twitter, or scanning my blog aggregator, or checking a variety of Nings, or visiting the online meetings on EdTechTalk (Women of the Web, for instance) or popping in on any other amazing Elluminate session my PLN is currently talking about, or visiting links my Diigo groups suggest.

What is it exactly that keeps me up?

Largely, what keeps me up is not keeping up.

My PLN is largely composed of people like me.  Although I don’t like to admit it, I am kinda type-A.

Sometimes I feel like I am back in school and everyone in my class is working with the very same level of intensity and passion.  They are all type-As.  They are all achievers and I cannot keep up with the things they discover and create. 

Because my class is global, my classmates raise their hands 24/7.

While most days I am PLNthused and often PLNraptured, I admit to a degree of PLNvy. 

I am a little bit jealous of those who can accomplish more than I can, more creatively.  I worry that I’ve missed the best conference–even that I’ve missed backchanneling a conference.  (How is it that some of my buddies seem to be EVERYWHERE?)

Because of my position as a librarian, I worry that I need to introduce all the best new stuff and all the best new practices to the people in my neighborhood learning community–my school.

Because I am a librarian, I cannot choose a specialty.  When an achieving math teacher on my PLN shares, I must learn about that strategy to share with our own math teachers.  The same is true about English, and German, and Guidance, and Art, and, and PE, and US History, and the principal stuff. . . (You get the idea.)  And then I must share the library stuff in my blog.

I feel guilty when I lurk.  I feel an obligation to those who choose to follow me to be worthy of their votes of confidence.

I feel guilty about not migrating to the next greatest new tool as quickly as everyone else.

I feel guilty about not better managing and better growing the Nings and wikis I create.

I don’t keep a Delicious account because I choose to organize my life and links in wikis. Nevertheless, my network expects Delicious of me.

I live in fear that I will be embarrassed once again, sitting in a conference audience when a presenter buddy suggests, Let’s take a look at Joyce’s Delicious links.

Okay, I’ve confessed.

The pace of growth and change can be stimulating, and stunning, and staggering.

That doesn’t mean I don’t believe. That doesn’t mean I will change my approach to networking. 

I cannot remember a two-year period of my professional life in which I have learned or shared more.  Opting out of this chaos is not an option.

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. Dennis Richards says:

    Hi Joyce, saw your Tweet about this post, and although I’m supposed to be working on other “assignments,” I couldn’t resist. Glad I did. Your landscape is familiar territory. Wonderful story with a lot of energy and passion for the learning and sharing you do. Regards.

  2. Vicki in IL says:

    You keep up with your passions and that is well beyond what many others are doing. I follow you because it is like having you as a personal mentor in my profession as an elementary school librarian. I have come so far in my PLN thanks to you and others that I follow. My husband complains that I am addicted to the computer. I admit that I am but there are days when I only have time to lurk. That’s okay for you too. Please just don’t make it a habit to be a lurker because you have so much to share. Thanks for your time in all applications, whether it be Twitter, blogs, nings, SLJ articles, etc.

  3. Karen C. says:

    Thanks for that blast from the past, I found all kinds of Grass Roots videos to view on YouTube! In our class discussion at Arcadia, after visiting your library, we wondered how you manage to do all you do and many of us felt even more guilty than you feel. You motivated several of us to start using Twitter and blogs to begin developing our own PLN. Another song, by the Grass Roots, reminds us to live for today, even though that was somehow simpler back in the day.

  4. alicebarr says:

    “I am a little bit jealous of those who can accomplish more than I can, more creatively. I worry that I’ve missed the best conference–even that I’ve missed backchanneling a conference.”

    How refreshing to know someone else if feeling this way! How did we get to this point? I am forever going back and forth, am I doing enough for my PLN? Why does everyone have so much to contribute? But then I remember, oh yeah, I work with students and teachers in a school all day long and they are also part of my PLN. They are my first responsibility. For each one of them that discovers something new, takes part in a new kind of learning, or becomes part of a PLN, I feel I have contributed to my greater PLN in some small way. The fact that we feel guilty means that that this new kind of learning is beginning to be successful. You’re right when you say opting out is not a option.

  5. joycevalenza says:

    Wow, Dennis, Vicki, Karen, and Alice! I suspected I wasn’t alone in this curiously delightful stress. Alice, your perspective truly helps. Sometimes we forget about those quieter ripples that we may never actually see or hear. They are contributions, indeed. Karen, you may be one of those ripples. Thanks for writing.

  6. Nancy Keane says:

    I am feeling so guilty about not checking twitter this week. Have a 30 page paper due for doctoral course and I know if I call up twitter, it is all over. I have gotten many of my teachers tweeting and now they are hooked! If you feel you are not keeping up, what chance is there for the rest of us!! OK, back to my APA style sheet.


    Okay so I have the same confessions. My Delicious account decidedly only has meaning to me. And it is woefully neglected. I too find that sometimes a wiki works better for me for collecting links, particularly for presentations. And I ask how in the world do I keep up. I tell close friends often I don’t know anyone like me…maybe we are far more alike than I realized. Confession number 2–I still feel like a “wannabe.” I don’t think I’m there yet. I am the perpetual learner. Is that I bad thing? I think not. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Joyce, thanks for sharing this. You may not realize, but to me and many other followers of your blog and work, you are the one who makes us jealous. You are the one who makes me think, “How could I ever be like her?” I, too, feel the push-and-pull of being a media specialist, of having to know all subjects at all times, of having to be the book person, the technology person, the info person, the teacher trainer, the tech assistant, curriculum designer, rubric planner, administrator advisor, program seller, parent manger…etc etc etc…all the time. This job is wonderful, but it has its moments where the pull to be all things to all people can be overwhelming. So, I guess I’m saying thanks for sharing that you, struggle, too. Oh, and you didn’t even MENTION the time you juggle with your personal life, our most important “network” – we all need to make that network the most important one…ah! the balancing act. 🙂

  9. Anabel_Yhanse says:

    Can I download hq (high quality) clips from youTube?
    If I try copy url to web site it gives me

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