The Give and Take of Learning in Networks: Why Do You Follow Who You Do?

Why do you follow someone on twitter? I’ve thought about that a lot as I have made decisions about who I should follow and who I won’t follow. Usually, I am quite liberal in following people who follow me. If they have similar interests then I figure we might be able to help each other out. They may share things that interest me and viceversa. Also we might be able to give each other feedback on our own writings and thinking.

Yet when I have seen other posts in the past on this kind of topic, it is usually very focused on self interest. Advice on who to follow is mostly based on looking out for number one, figuring out what is in it for you, etc. I don’t think we can be completely alturistic, but at the same time is self-interest the one or most important factor. Yes, our time, like our money, is a limited resource. Yes, we want to get the best value we can (most bang for the buck or meat for the minute, as it were). But does that always come from what others can do for us? I think we can get a lot more out of our relationships and our learning networks if we focus on what we can give than what we can get… As we share our learning with others, help someone in need of some feedback, share our thoughts in answer to an inquiry, give of ourselves, we’ll ultimatley get more out of our learning networks. In other words, you get more from what you give than what you take.

If we don’t have a more other-centric view of learning in networks, I don’t think it will work the way we planned. Just as in any relationship, if all we do is take then soon there won’t be anybody there for us to take from.

If you stubmle upon this post and have read this far, thank you for your time. I apologize for a bit of a rant. But I’d love to hear your thoughts. Why do you follow who you do? How do you contribute to make your network followers and friends better for having followed you?

Happy Holidays (of which Christmas and Thanksgiving are my favorites)!

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