Understanding Sharing

Understanding Sharing

Sharing in 2103 is one of the easiest things to do. Understanding sharing is not that easy.

selfie of me looking at my Diigo acct

Ever since I asked about over sharing on my blog several years ago I’ve stopped worrying about it. That said, I’ve used several spaces with very specific intentions. I know others have different purposes, criteria and use different spaces to share but learning that is a critical information literacy skill. This became clear to me as I was redoing my Diigo network feed. As I pruned my list of 75 down to 9 I asked if anyone had any suggestions about who to follow. That’s a bit of a loaded and perhaps dumb question to ask. First of all, I gave no indication of what I was looking for. I suppose people might think I’m interested in education or technology, which I am but that’s far too broad to be of much use. Maybe 15 years ago when I began online bookmarking using broad terms like “education” + “technology” may have been useful, but not today. Then as folks began to suggest people, I looked at their sites and they were okay but I’m hoping to find people that are sharing things a bit more obscure and out of the mainstream. Something you may not always see on twitter. But bookmarking, to me remains one of the most personal forms of sharing. Of all the things I share, bookmarks are for me. I don’t care about sharing them. I don’t use any filter when I share and there’s very little context to what I share. I assume that’s similar for most people. I wouldn’t expect anyone to tailor their bookmarks for anyone.

When I think about the other spaces I share, I bring with it certain criteria and purpose. For example:

My blog

Generally I share more thoughtful, reflective stuff. This post for example is an idea I thought about and am using this to formulate an idea and perhaps illicit a conversation. Some folks suggest they blog only for themselves and that may be the case. I blog for me and for others. It’s a place where I focus on learning.


This is the blur of personal and professional. I’ve told people jokingly, don’t follow me on twitter if you want to learn something. It’s only partly a joke. I know some use it exclusively as a learning space but I don’t. I used to share this video with new followers so they wouldn’t be confused with how I used this space. I wonder if I need a video for all my spaces.


It used to be my primary place to share images and while it still is, Instagram has replaced the community aspect. The content is similar although I’m more apt to take a random photo to share a moment that may not get uploaded to flickr. Flickr is a slightly more vetted space.


This is a place I use only because my kids use it and I know many folks use it as their go to space. Other than my daily photos, I don’t use it much and it’s not a professional space at all for me.

Google Plus

Pretty new to me still, I think it’s an interesting space but not one I’m willing yet to invest to understand it and utilize it well.


The challenge with bookmarking is largely due to mobile. Since I now consume so much content via a mobile device, bookmarking is less consistent that it used to be. I use the little bookmarklet when working on my laptop which is essentially when I’m focussing on a particular topic or idea. You’ll see a string of sites all fairly similar that I hope to use in a course or upcoming presentation. I also have twitter favorites automatically go to diigo. I used to be better at adding little notes to sites which I really should, not for others necessarily but for my own reference.

There are several other spaces I use as well but my point is to suggest that sharing is more that the act of posting content online. Particularly from the viewer’s perspective, understanding these contexts is critical in determining who and what you want to connect to and with. As I redo my RSS reader, it’s hard to let go of some older bloggers because I understand that context. You get to know people’s foibles, their attitudes and biases which aid you in gleaning ideas from them. Random bits of sharing online is so incredibly easy to do and yet very difficult to be useful unless context is applied. Sure, there is content that stands alone. A great article, video or image can be viewed by many as being useful or interesting. But there is also much that gets ignored or missed because either the creator hasn’t provided context or we’re too busy/lazy to understand it. That context lies partly in understanding how the creator uses a particular space. I think about the many workshops people give about any one of these spaces/platforms and brush over the idea that what makes these spaces so compelling is there is more than one way to use them and your way isn’t the only way.

After finishing this, I’m not sure I’ve said anything of interest or meaning. It started with my thoughts about bookmarks being judged purely on the quality but that quality starts with the user and their intent and then becomes my judgement which is based on a totally different set of criteria. There’s no conflict here, just an understanding on my part to know this exists and perhaps an urging for others to be more mindful of that context. I’m not asking creators to necessarily provide more context but suggesting users and viewers to consider there is always context.

This is what happens when you blog at midnight.

cross-posted at http://ideasandthoughts.org/

Dean Shareski is a Digital Learning Consultant with the Prairie South School Division in Moose Jaw, SK, Canada, specializin in the use of technology in the classroom. He lectures for the University of Regina and is the Community Manager of the Canadian DEN or Discovery Educators Network.