Be Someone’s Conversational Follower.

Alan Levine — the mind behind the CogDogBlog — stopped by the Radical the other day and left a brilliant comment in response to my recent post about the importance of reinvesting in deep conversations in social spaces.


Alan wrote:

Until Dean tweeted I had no idea twitter was so plagued by banal retweeted inspirational quotes!

A problem there is the assymetry of response potential. If I was relatively new to Twitter and asked the same question, the crickets of response would compel me away from conversations. Dean has the power of a significant number of conversational followers many others lack.

I’d prefer more people do what you’ve done here- bring the ideas and conversations back to blog space which used to be the place for back and forth conversations.

There’s two important takeaways in Allen’s comment that I’m going to run with in 2019:

First, I’m going to make a commitment to being a more “conversational follower.”  

Alan is right:  Folks who have been around for a long time in social spaces — or folks who have earned a significant amount of attention/recognition for their work — are far more likely to have strong conversations happening in any social space that they participate in.  Others may rarely see that same level of interaction with the content that they share and/or questions that they ask.

That changes the expectations that we have for social spaces.

So what’s the solution:  I’m going to work harder at being a “conversational follower” for more people.  Responding more frequently to more people is a simple way that I can start to influence the expectations that people have for interactions in social spaces.

Second, I’m going to make a commitment to extending conversations in both my own blog space and in the comment sections of the blogs written by others.

Early in the Web 2.0 #edumovement, blogs — and their comment sections — were FULL of provocative, back and forth conversations about teaching and learning.  It wasn’t unusual to see dozens of comments after darn near every post.  Now, comment sections are often completely empty.

So what’s the solution:  Not only do I plan to do more reacting and responding and extending to the ideas of others in new posts here on the Radical, I also plan to recommit to starting dialogue in the comment sections of other people’s posts.

That’s probably the right place for extended conversations anyway.  There’s room for deeper thought and articulation, which is what I think is missing from the work that teachers are doing in Twitter.

In the end, my goal is to both to add and to find more intellectual value from the time that I spend in social spaces. 

More information doesn’t really help anyone to improve.  It’s deeper reflection and conversation that matters most.  I can encourage those behaviors in others and feed them in myself by becoming a conversational follower and reinvesting in blogs as a forum for extended interactions.

Any of this make sense to you?

More importantly, are you willing to make the same changes in your patterns of social participation?


Related Radical Reads:

Something Weird is Happening on Twitter Right Now.


The Digital Equivalent of Strip Malls.


Lathered Brilliance, Superman Underoos and Social Media Spaces




14 thoughts on “Be Someone’s Conversational Follower.

  1. aarondavis1

    Personally, one of the changes that has made a difference to me is to keep a copy of the comments I make around the web. This is a part of the IndieWeb. Some sites accept comments in the form of webmentions, however those that do not (like your own) I simply cut and paste. I find that this extra effort has made the exercise more meaningful. Someone who might have something to add to this is Chris Aldrich.

    Also on: Read Write Collect

    1. Bill Ferriter Post author

      I do dig the Webmentions idea, Aaron.

      Been thinking a lot about it since you mentioned it to me a few weeks ago.

      Still haven’t figured out exactly how to make it happen yet — but working on it.


      1. aarondavis1

        Chris Aldrich has compiled a number of resources that might be of help. Basically, you would need to:

        Add both the IndieWeb and Webmentions Plugins.
        Connect your Twitter account to
        Add a ‘Rel=me’ reference to the header of your blog. If you do not have a child theme you can use a Header/Footer plugin.
        Include your blog in your bio within Twitter (which you have done).

        If you are still having issues then I would recommend checking out the IndieWeb site and / or joining the IndieWeb WordPress chat.

  2. John Wink

    Great thought once again.

    I think the time factor and “what do I say” factor is a challenge here. It will take lots of modeling from you and others to make this happen. I agree conversational following grows people the most. It sure helped me become a better writer and thinker.

    Thanks for pushing the envelope.

    1. Bill Ferriter Post author

      I think it’s the time thing, John…..

      People see the ease in liking and retweeting and wonder, “Why would I spend extra time leaving a comment or starting a conversation.”

      And I guess that’s fine — who am I to judge how people use social spaces?

      But it’s not enough for me.

      Anyway…hope you are well,

    1. Bill Ferriter Post author

      Thanks, Pal….

      I LOVE the idea of being a conversational follower. That’s like a gift that we can give back to our social networks.

      Appreciate the nudge,

  3. Renee Moore

    This post, and the one that preceded it, just make me want to dance and shout! I truly miss this aspect of social media – conversation. Particularly, in the areas of great concern to me–social justice, racism, inequality–these are hard issues to tackle, and we certainly cannot make the type of headway we need if all we use are retweeted quotes and gifs.

    I’m reflecting hard on this challenge to be a more conversational follower of those whose writing pushes my thinking and my work. Thanks, again, Bill.

    1. Bill Ferriter Post author

      No sweat, Pal…

      It’s been on my mind a lot, too.

      I want the TLN Listserve back. Those were the best conversations that I ever had, and there was nary a hashtag to be found!

      ; )

    1. Bill Ferriter Post author

      Super funny, Matt.

      Do you remember the 30 days of Blog Comments project? I think it was a Will Chamberlain idea?

      That’s what I want to get back to — and I’m pretty sure that it was circa 2009!

      ; )

  4. Jeff

    “It’s deeper reflection and conversation that matters most.” Absolutely. So what are going to do less of, in ordee to make time to do more of this?

    1. Bill Ferriter Post author

      Hey Jeff,

      I guess that’s really a personal decision, right? The answer won’t be the same for all of us.

      For me, it’s been spending less time sifting through my stream in Twitter. Given that the majority of the posts there don’t lead to conversation, I’m cutting that time and spending more time in the comment sections of blog entries.

      I’ll use Twitter for what it is: A stream of clickable information — and occasional inspiration. But not conversation.

      Any of this make sense?


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