digital scholarship,  higher ed,  PLE,  twitter

Say hello to PEE – your Personal Engagement Environment

I’ve blogged about the Twitter Diaspora, arguing that Twitter was a default place for many in higher education. Alan suggests that the Town Hall was something of a myth, and while there’s probably some truth in that, I would content that, during the 2010s, if you were in higher ed, and active in social media, then you had a Twitter account. You would likely have other platforms also, and maybe some you preferred over Twitter, but Twitter could act as a default engagement platform. That assumption no longer holds true.

In a very timely special issue of JIME on social media, Apostolos Koutropoulos and 8 co-authors consider this fragmentation of educational discourse (again, I would argue they wouldn’t be doing this if Twitter hadn’t been the default engagement network). They conclude that:

As some of the established social media like the social network formerly known as Twitter ‘go down’ and others like Mastodon or Bluesky ‘rise’ we must finally realize that these or indeed any social media platforms will always continue to ebb and flow – they are out of our control. They never were the third spaces that some believed they were, or wanted them to be.

I do agree with Alan when he says “Accept the distributed, disaggregated ness of it all”. I don’t think there is a “next Twitter”, ie one platform where you can pretty safely assume people will connect.

Which brings me on to the PEE – Personal Engagement Environment (I may have to work on that acronym). Some of you may recall that around the late 2000s we got excited by the idea of Personal Learning Environments, the idea being that individuals stitched together their favourite tools to create their own learning environment. This morphed into a Personal Learning Network, which moved the focus away from the tools and more to the people and resources in your own network. Back then we used to create radial diagrams comprised of logos of the various tools we used. Scott Leslie did a really nice analysis of these diagrams, noting that there were 6 broad categories: tool, use, resource, flow, people, or hybrid oriented (with tool focused being the most common). Here was mine in 2011 (aww, bless, look at all those defunct services):

While a lot of this was because we were excited about all that Web 2.0 stuff, it was also a useful way to map the tools you used regularly. Dave White developed a useful mapping activity around digital residents and visitors which did a similar thing.

While I’m all up for more radial diagrams, this is more of a way to think about post-Twitter life. Each of us develops a personal engagement environment, the different elements of which will be emphasised for different purposes and audiences. It’s a return how we operated pre-Twitter dominance I guess. You may have a main platform (eg blog), a work focused one eg LinkedIn, a personal one eg Instagram, a general one eg Threads, a course focused one eg podcasts, etc. For any one engagement activity you may post to all, one or some of these. Consider the example of wanting to share a new article you have had published – you may blog about it, and post a link on LinkedIn and on Threads. If you wanted to boost someone a post from someone else, that may just be LinkedIn. For conference engagement you may focus more Mastodon, etc. You may decide that you don’t need or want a lot of engagement, and just stick to one platform such as a blog.

As Koutropoulos and co state “Times are complex, supercomplex”, and depending on the type of engagement you want or need, then your PEE (no, definitely need a better acronym) will be complex as well. I think we have to accept that, and embrace it. Get those diagrams going!


  • Terry Greene

    I hope i do not waste your time, but maybe you’re in for a new acronym that I think is number one: Personal Innovation Settings and Situation (PISS)

  • Alan Levine

    It’s bad acronyms and metaphors all the way down, which is the fun and also an entry way into this, all the things you do well.

    Bring on the PEE and the PEEing oh my gosh it’s like dogs.

    Seriously (I will try) the value or gain will be how well we can cross pollinate for the different puddles. I am willing maybe to peek at something on What I Will Always Call Twitter or risk the analytics of LinkedIn notifications if it’s interesting or shared by someone I count on for that.

    I wonder then if we can go about this with boat the sharing of our own stuff, because we know nothing is better than getting some notice but also how much we can do to connect, elevate things of interest that are not ours.

    I see a great tree over there in Mastodon.

    • mweller

      Hi Alan, yes I think all that you say is true – it all becomes a bit more complex, and maybe the easy boosting of others is dampened a bit, but at the same time it aslo requires some more tgought and is more personalised to us, so maybe that’s a good thing in the end.

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