Reading Globally

Responding to Dean Shareski,

Certainly some thoughts worth consideration.

- I don't buy the 'time zone' argument, even for a minute. There are all kinds of ways to get time-shifted Twitter posts, even if you don't do anything online outside of office hours.

- Geographical distribution isn't everything - there's a bunch of people I follow who depict themselves as "international" but who are basically based in American schools around the world, and talk only to each other. My major criticism of Global Voices is similar - many of the feeds are Americans living overseas or expatriates living in the U.S., neither of which counts as "global"

- I do like Debbie's comment about a map based on professions. I don't follow people on Twitter. But I have an extensive RSS list, which is well-divided between education, media, ideas, news and science. Even within education, I have taken care to have a good balance of K12, corporate, higher ed, and technology.

- BTW I would look at Debbie's blog, if she had one, but she provides no contact information whatsoever - pretty hard to follow without a url

- I also totally agree with her about cold surfing. I rarely typed URLs at random, but I would visit random Geocities pages, blog posts, etc. Today my cold surfing happens mostly when I'm writing an article - blogging for Huffington has really helped me here because it increases my cold surfing. Blogging without looking stuff up and linking is lazy and leads to closed-group thinking.

- I make use of the 'translate into my language' feature in Google reader to extend my range, but even so, language is a challenge. Looking at my follows geographically, I find them heavily weighted toward the English speaking world. I follow some Spanish and French language blogs but that's it. This is a barrier I'd like to cross and should attend to.

- But all of that said, I don't worry overly about it. "Think globally, act locally." There's going to be a regional cluster to my work.


  1. Thank you for helping me worry a bit less.

    Been thinking about clustering effects in my networks as an issue to be addressed. Not that I've done anything that specific to expand these networks in entirely new directions, but it's been on my mind.

    Still, it's probably useful to cintextualize this issue and, instead of blaming ourselves individually, we can find diverse ways to expand our overall networks.

    Of course, language is a big component in this. Translation can help a bit, but language barriers aren't merely about the referential function of language. Apart from very specialized language, literal translations don't go very far.
    I'm biased, of course, but I think there's an important role played by those of us who are "in-between." Bilinguals and polyglots (looking forward to Michael Erard's Babel no more), biculturals, ambassadors, and emissaries.

  2. If you want to read what Stephen reads and the file format of opml-all.xml puzzles you, it's easy to import it into Google Reader.
    0. Download the xml file
    1. Click on Manage Subscriptions on the bottom left hand corner
    2. Click on import/export
    3. Chose the xml and hit upload. Fasten seatbelt....
    "My God. It's full of stars!"
    I suggest you tuck it all into a separate google reader folder. It's somewhat overwhelming, although it is organised in helpful folders.

  3. Not sure why you don't buy the argument at all. So many are using twitter for real time news and seeking synchronous conversations that it's definitely a factor. Sure they're are lots of ways to get around that but shift away from RSS means that many aren't regular followers but are focused largely on serendipity and that requires mostly real time information.

  4. Because they weren't reading internationally before Twitter either.

  5. The translate feature of Google makes global resources and perspectives available to anyone who takes the time to explore the possibilities. While it won’t get you an “A” in your language class…if the goal of language is communication and I can get 90 to 95 percent correct through the tool, that will work for me as I try to gain global perspectives. I started using tags and searches in other languages ever since the Iranian elections and the resulting protests. When the plane crashed in Poland and killed the upper level of their government, I got tired of only being able to read the English posts on Twitter (they were in many languages- a global outpouring). So I turned to and soon I was gaining the perspective of the Polish people in Poland as well as citizen from countries all around the globe.

    Living in the U.S., one big current issue revolves around immigration policies. This is a loud debate in our country and one that is heated at times. However, the opinions that are making headlines are those in the U.S. It is interesting to look at this debate through the eyes of our friends both south and north of our borders. Reading blogs, news articles and tweets on this topic from folks all across Latin America provides a perspective that few U.S. citizens experience

    Another lens you can explore through transition tools it to see how information is packaged. Take a look at the Aljazeera site in Arabic ( and the version they specifically publish in English ( Now use Google translate to go from Arabic to English and compare the results. It is worth exploring the different representations of the news (above and below the fold, stories to highlight etc.).

    Try following hashtags in other languages: #Education 教育 #Koulutus #Educación #Educação. I have started to do this and have found a entirely new fountain of information and perspectives.


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