Sunday, May 25, 2008

Another list is gone, almost

Change is hard, and some (of us, myself included) find it hard to deal with. This one is more of a loss, but it struck me as a big deal.

I just got an email from Ernie Anderson, the moderator of Ednet, one of the longest running educational technology lists out there. He's been in the hospital, apologized for the list silence lately - and asked if anybody wanted to take over the list - now at "slightly less than 200 subscribers".

This made me real sad, for a couple of reasons:
  • Ednet has been there since 1992. There is a lot of important history and good work that has come out of that list, a couple of particular interest to me - I posted the first invitation to join in The Earth Day Groceries Project on Ednet. It has carried Louis Schmier's Random Thoughts since he began writing them in 1993. And many fine moments and conversations over the years. I will never forget Prescott Smith, moderator in the mid-nineties, sending a note to the list where he mentioned me and Bonnie Bracey in the same sentence, in a complimentary way. I printed that one out, and you better believe I still have it.
  • It triggered in me the thought of how far we have to go in schools to get out of the world of lists. Yes, I'm sad to see Ednet on its last legs, but even sadder when it reminds me of just how far the education community has to go to move beyond this web 1.0 list technology. It's just not where we should be, right now. I cringe when I think about a comment (I think) I left for Will Richardson, taking him to task for not being more involved in the educational list community. Yeesh. He responded very nicely and apologetically. Will, I'm, sorry. The list is dead - or will be, soon.
  • It reminded me of my own struggles moderating a list for educators in Seattle for many years, tictech. It was very successful for many years, but this past January I closed it down, fed up with getting slammed off list by folks for things I said on the list - and also feeling it was time to MOVE ON, for goodness sake. I started a Tictech 2.0 Ning site, a group on Diigo... we'll see where it goes. It was an extremely hard decision to terminate that list. Although I owned/moderated it for 7 or 8 years, it was not founded by me. In my opinion it leaves a void in Seattle that has not been filled.

There are, of course, thousands of Internet lists that are doing amazing and useful things. A couple I'm on that I love:

  • Our PTSA list at my school. It's extremely useful and provides an additional dimension to our school community.
  • Tweeters, an (unmoderated) list for birders in the Pac NW. At over 2,000 subscribers, I think, this list amazes me. There are online tiffs, of course, but to have such civility on a wide open list with so many members - well, I think it's a tribute to all its members, and to a strong list owner.

Then there are education lists that I just go ho-hum over, these days - because I get my information about technology in education other ways. I don't have time to read through every post like I used to, but I stay subscribed .... Edtech - a biggie, dealing with many technical questions, and Andy Carvin's wwwedu, - the one that is closest to home for my leanings and politics - but I rarely post there any more. I've done a few guest moderator stints for Andy over the years. In its heyday, it was one jumpin' list.

But people are moving on. I think.

  • How many people in their 20's and 30's check out a social networking site with their morning coffee before they check their email? How many educators (of any age) do that?
  • How many educators check a news aggregator like Bloglines or Netvibes, etc - before they check their email? Does the percentage who do reflect that of the general public?

As I said, I'm sad to hear about Ednet. It may live on with a new moderator, but its number of subscribers has dwindled. I am incredibly grateful for the things I learned on Ednet, for the encouragement I got, and for the people who stretched my thinking. A list message from Bonnie Bracey came in while I was writing this...

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