I heard a resonant expression today on Radio 4’s Click On*: “reconnecting people with their neighbours – with their community – with identities, perhaps that are stronger than their towns or cities.” The speaker, Andy Price, was referring to online communities in a conversation about individuals’ online contributions to their local newspapers.
While I wouldn’t describe my virtual connections as stronger than my 3-dimensional ones, I would defend them as being every bit as real. For example, if it’s true that you are what you read then influence, in the form of recommendations, reviews, links etc. is as likely to come from someone I may perhaps never meet than from a first life friend or colleague. I find this no stranger than the fact that I’ve have yet to set eyes on new neighbours in our tenement (whose door is two metres from ours) since they moved in four months ago.
It’s in the nature of peripateticism not to see most pupils for 80% of the week. Months can pass between sightings of colleagues with whom I apparently share a building. Yet those who participate in eduBuzz – by reading, writing or commenting – enjoy both heightened connectivity and instant access.