Robert Scoble has too many friends?

I was perusing a great article Beth Kanter posted on Facebook and saw that she had some notes about Robert Scoble. So, I wanted to follow this rockstar-for-geeks on Facebook and see what I could apply for education.

Here is the screen I got when I tried to add Robert to Facebook.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

It seems unfortunate that Facebook cannot handle the uber-geek popularity of Robert Scoble.

I'm enjoying some things about facebook, but other things like its slowness and now realizing that I'm too late to the party and because I didn't get there first I can't follow someone like Robert.

Looking at Beth's article again and considering that Robert is using facebook to network and obviously make money, I think that the chart on digital citizenship that I've used in the past should be revised to include effective networking. (See below.)

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Beth's article encourages learning to add friends of friends (which I do also by the way.) And we tell students never to do it!

The “Good Little Boys and Girls” will be the “Poor Little Boys and Girls?”

Something tells me that the “good little boys and girls” who don't use myspace and facebook may end up being the “poor little boys and girls” who are left out of the conversation when the deal is being done.

All the kids I can think of who don't use these services are luddites!

The Place Where Deals Are Done
When I was in business many deals were done on the golf course and yes, even in the men's room. (That was how they left me out.)

But that has changed. Deals are happening now in this spidery network of social networks which should really be renamed business networks in many cases (as least it is for me.) People are doing business with those they've never met Face to Face with only their acquired techno-personal skills linking them together.

It is time for schools to create their own private social networks (as I've done on Ning) to give our students a place to network safely! Imagine the esprit de corps! I think you'll unleash a giant if you let your students and parents network privately and you'll see greater understanding of what this is all about.

It is something I'm working towards at our school and hope to get approved soon.

Social networking shouldn't be called “social” at all… it is really life networking or hey, just networking.

It is not about the technology it is about professionalism
So, the Ohio Teacher's Association telling its teachers not to myspace or facebook couldn't have it more wrong. It is not the technology that is the problem it is the people who behave unprofessionally.

So, lets teach professionalism in social networking. Let's be the professionals who use it.

Eawwwww! A Rat!

Educators need to stop jumping up on top of their chair and pulling up their pants leg like a mouse ran through the meeting every time someone talks about social networks!

They can be your friend! We've been using a social network for our Flat Classroom project with incredible results! For goodness sakes, I'm using one for an elementary youth group at our church!

Don't be late to the party!

Oh, and I guess you'd better get on facebook and add me soon before I become too popular. ;-) lol

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Alfred Thompson December 2, 2007 - 3:05 pm

You can still follow Robert on Twitter BTW. From the sound of recent posts on his blog it sounds like he is using Facebook less lately. He seems to be active in Twitter from what I hear.

Robert doesn’t directly make money from Facebook or Twitter but there is little doubt that his huge and growing social network is very useful for what he does to make a living.

Langwitches December 2, 2007 - 8:18 pm

Thank you for writing this article.

I have been witnessing my daughter’s use, as a college freshman, of Facebook. I am thankful that she has added me as a friend and allows me a little insight into her social networking.

It has been incredible to witness how she is communicating with friends and acquaintances and navigating college life.
Before the first day in August, she already knew most students who would be sitting in class with her. I was amazed at the speed that news traveled about who was taking which class and which professor at what time last week, when spring registration started last week.

I see kids encouraging each other in their classes, reminding themselves of deadlines and term papers, giving leads about job applications, etc.

An “overachiever” in one of her classes has created a facebook group in order to upload and share his class notes

My daughter has stayed in touch with her friends who went on to different colleges across the country and are planning reunions during the semester break when they come home for the holidays.

I agree with you that the “good little boys and girls” who do not use Social Network places will be left out of the conversation.

audrey December 2, 2007 - 10:00 pm

I might agree that being a good little girl or boy doesn’t really get you anywhere. The bushwackers always make a place for themselves. They don’t follow trends… they start them. IF the path doesn’t exist, they make it. That being said, it’s already too late to bushwack on facebook. It’s not presence on facebook that makes the difference, at least not after the first flush. It’s the person behind the face (book). So… telling the truth some few people will make money because of their presence on facebook… many more will put up vanity sites that no one but a few friends bothers to look at. Ultimately, it’s not about the tool … it’s about the person behind the tool. For good or for bad, it’s still in the individual.

Liz Ditz December 3, 2007 - 12:37 am

ditto what langwitches said — my daughter and her roommate sorted out who was bringing what accoutrements to college 3 weeks before they actually met.

But CC, I limit my FB friends to (a) folks I know in real life (b) folks I may not have met, but know through blogging. In other words, I don’t want to be Scoble’s friend. (In the early days of blogging, the expression link-wh0r3 comes to mind).

mpstaton December 3, 2007 - 2:58 am

I agree that we shouldn’t be afraid of social networks, as teachers. As a a social network app developer (courses on facebook) I certainly don’t want teachers to be scared of them.

Yet, at the National Council of Social Studies Conference I just went to, when I asked young teachers if they were on Facebook to tell them about my product, they were afraid of me and said “no” instantaneously, as though they would get in trouble for admitting it.

The reality is these social networks are here to stay. The average social network user is now 34. There are now no longer thank you cards or phone calls to say hi, but pokes and gifts on facebook, and they are merely the modern protocol of the same polite sentiments.

However, I do have students from last year that friended me after the year was over, and they do put up the most inappropriate pictures I should not be seeing. Luckily I am no longer a teacher so I feel no legal obligation to tell their parents. However, I recommend that teachers only accept limited friendship.

I am actually nagging the facebook team (I am friends with a number of them) all the time about how they need to designate a “teacher/student” relationship and they give me no commitments but it is in their horizon to do so.

mpstaton December 3, 2007 - 2:59 am

Oh, and Robert Scoble’s blog is overrated. But he does have amazing access. He’s had not just a few posts about tech in education and he seems to care about it. December 3, 2007 - 10:05 am

Liz, actually I went through my friends’ list and of the 4,999 friends I have (the maximum allowed on Facebook) I’ve met about 3,000 of them (I’ve collected more than 5,000 business cards in the past decade since I’m a prolific networker).

John Pederson December 3, 2007 - 3:35 pm NSFW, as most of Hugh’s stuff is, but it’s at the core of what we are talking about. The “global microbrand”.

On the surface it looks a little like some high school popularity contest gone bad. It goes much deeper.

Two examples.

1) See Scoble’s comment above. He’s paying attention, not just getting attention.

2) Networking as a 21st Century Skill: Last spring I pinged Vicki. Put her on 2 days notice to video Skype into a keynote I was doing for a large audience. We had never talked before. I was “using” the “Vicki Davis”, “Flat Classroom” “global microbrand” to do two things. First was to advance the “John Pederson” global microbrand”. Second was to advance the “Vicki Davis” “Flat Classroom” microbrand.

Getting attention is the easy part. Paying attention is more difficult. December 3, 2007 - 7:30 pm

I did quite a bit of research into open source projects to run a social network at my school in NZ. The project which most closely resembles facebook etc is However we opted for wordpress mu in the end due to the quality of plugins and knowledge base and it also promotes a more intellectual approach to online content. We are still having some content issues but we try to educate students rather than block material. All blogs are monitored regularly via rss feeds. Check

Beth Kanter December 3, 2007 - 7:53 pm

Vicky: I’m impressed you got scoble to comment. I tagged him in the note, but he didn’t respond.

Apparently 150 is supposedly the maximum number of friends a human can handle. There was an article recently about how technology might help us surpass that.

I have a lot friends, but what I discovered is that readers of my blog started to friend on Facebook. I don’t know all my readers — many I’ve never met. Yet, if I didn’t ask them why they wanted to become friends at the point of friending, I would not have discovered them.

Darren Draper December 3, 2007 - 3:56 pm


“Getting attention is the easy part. Paying attention is more difficult.”

You can say that again!

Profv December 3, 2007 - 11:30 pm

We don’t have cable TV. Often, others will refer to a show that we don’t have access to because of cable. Does this mean we are missing something of great import? I don’t think so. My family watches network TV and we pick and choose from it. Just because my kids or my students are not on facebook does not mean they are in the dark ages or do not know how to network. My son remembers kids from pre-school, the two schools he attended, the various soccer teams he has been a part of, camps he has attended, and basketball teams he has been on and played against. He went to a private school where most of his classmates have now moved on to (both public and private) high schools. As he speaks with his friends he continues to network, with many of his friends knowing those he knew from other venues. What I find interesting is that HE remembers all of these other kids, while many of them do not remember him. The fact is that he has an instinct for networking face to face that others do not. He sees the connection between those he has met in other contexts, his current set of friends, and friends of friends, remembering details about them. Does he need facebook to survive and network? I don’t think so.

I also have created networks of colleagues and am a newcomer to social software. Personally I have not been too thrilled with facebook while I have found Linkedin to be much more valuable in creating a social network of colleagues that I can keep track of.

Anonymous December 5, 2007 - 8:17 pm

Ack. Cool Cat. One moment we as educators ‘get mad’ for the maligning of online social tools. The next you malign those who don’t use them/don’t understand them. We geeks need to be careful here. I’m a web2.0 kinda guy but NO tool is the end all be all. Social networks and web2.0 is NOT the only way to go.
I’ll take a nature loving, socially conscious luddite before a closed minded environmentally ignorant social networker.
Everything in balance.

Vicki A. Davis December 6, 2007 - 3:30 am


No tool is the end all be all. This is not about one tool at all. However, it is about the complete refusal of most schools to allow any blogs any wikis any podcasts or any Web 2.0 tools through their virtual doors.

Luddite or no, our children are our future. We cannot do much about those who are older, their habits are set, but having an open mind and being taught that ethics follow you online is an important life lesson for anyone.

Don’t mistake my anger for intolerance. I have luddites in my own family! We all do! However, my family, luddites though they be, if they were in school teaching today’s kids would make an effort to understand and educate students as they need it.

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