September 8, 2019

#ChangeWithAnalytics: The Buzz and the Buzzkill

Instead of notes for Zuboff this week (I'll be back with Chapter 6 next week!), I wanted to take a moment to document the #ChangeWithAnalytics Buzz event last week. It was fun to use the power of Twitter in a kind of "Occupy Analytics Street" (we are the 99%!), having our tweets appear on the website.

The AIR-EDUCAUSE-NACUBO cabal can apply their marketing spin and spend their marketing budget, but that doesn't mean they are going to get the positive buzz they want. The people managing the website were asleep at the wheel for about 36 hours, starting from when Autumm Caines shared her criticisms of the report at 5PM on Tuesday; that's how I first learned about it:

Then Chris Gilliard noticed the "Buzz" page aggregating the tweets:

Jeannie Crowley confirmed: the "Buzz" was on auto-pilot and unattended, displaying all #changewithanalytics tweets.

I took a screenshot that I shared Tuesday night at around 11PM, thinking for sure the Twitter feed on the Buzz page would be shut down before morning, and I wanted to document it. Here you can see Jeannie's tweet showing up there on the page:

About that same time, Tom Evans chimed in with what was, I think, the most liked of all the #changewithanalytics tweets: Edtech will not save you.

In the morning, I was very surprised to see that the Buzz webpage was still buzzing: not only were all the critical tweets appearing at the website, no one from any of these organizations had bothered to take the time to reply to any of us or to use the hashtag themselves. I continued to take screenshots during the day on Wednesday:

I've created a WAKELET with all the #changewithanalytics tweets; quite a conversation ensued. In parts sarcastic, but in parts serious, with some insightful observations and sharing of useful resources. A much-liked and retweeted item was this one from Melissa Hubbard:

I personally liked this one from "John Henry" about the weird meta-quality of the whole incident:

Amazingly, things carried on all day Wednesday, through the night, and we were still able to "buzz" the site on Thursday morning.

Finally, the feed was removed, without explanation, around noon on Thursday:

Was there any kind of engagement of any kind from the purveyors of this report?

No, there was not.

And that's not surprising: the top-down, holier-than-thou, resistance-is-futile tone of both the website and the report is what ignited the Twitter event itself. This website claimed to represent the higher ed community, as you can see here (very cutesy loading of the numbers, oooh, ahhh): About Us.

But surely they cannot claim to speak for me or for the students in my classes simply because my school and some of its administrators are members of these professional organizations...?

And here's some language from their Statement: people will be jarred; expectations must be managed.

But it's clearly not just about managing expectations. What we saw instead this week was something much more insidious:
Doubts must be ignored.
Dissent must be deleted.
and so on ... until:
You will be assimilated.

Will there be opportunities for dialogue in the future? I hope that instead of just shutting down the Twitter conversation, people from this organization will engage, and so do in a public online space... because I doubt any of us who were tweeting this week are going to scrape together $1630 for the registration fee at the NACUBO Forum in September. Just for starters.

Anyway, we're at Twitter, here in the cheap seats.

You know where to find us, #ChangeWithAnalytics. :-)

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