Consumer or Producer

It’s a mentality. I just received a really thought-provoking note from a close family friend in a completely different part of my life–and geography. He asked, “Are you more of a consumer or more of a producer” and I wondered about that in my life as a professor of educational technology. Sure, I produce things, but I’m also a big consumer, and in some circles, I might even be considered a leech.

One of those circles of consumption is Twitter. Now, if you haven’t joined the Twitterverse, watch out; it is highly addictive, as I’ve written earlier. But today I gave some thought to my behaviour on Twitter, and I’d have to say that I’m primarily a consumer. I am alternatively instructed, entertained or guided to cool stuff by the relatively small (in Twitter terms) network of people I follow. I enjoy the drama that seems to occupy D’Arcy Norman’s every move in life. I sample from the seemingly endless stream of new software and sites that Alec Couros and Rob Wall send me. I jump to a new post by Heather Ross. I admire something fresh that Donna DesRoches points to. I marvel at what Dean Shareski feeds his kids when his wife isn’t looking, and the way he seems to be so grounded in good sense. I jump into a webinar set up by Jennifer Jones in Washington.

None of this is particularly remarkable, but the point is that I’m feeding off of the tweets, and I don’t think I’m contributing much in return. At first I felt guilty about that, but the honest-to-god truth of it is that I’m not sure my behaviour will change a whole lot. I’ll try to give back, but I seem to be gaining more pounds than I am shedding in the Twitterzone. I hope the Twits I follow don’t start calling me “Chubby”.

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