Monday, September 16, 2013

This Post Is Not Contagious

How much influence does one blog comment have?  How connected are our social networks? How fast can an idea spread?

Viral internet phenomenon are nothing new, but this week I got a lesson in the amazing power a small group can have for spreading an idea.

Early last week, I noticed an uptick in comments on a post I wrote about plagiarism and the ways I use Google tools to prevent and detect it.  The comments were generally complementary and I got the sense that this was part of a class assignment, read-this-and-leave-a-comment, kind of thing.  My widget for tracking visitors indicated most were in Ohio.

The thing is, these nice comments also posted to the commentor's Google+ feed and so were seen by the people in their circles. Some had clearly linked their Google+ with Facebook, so that their Facebook friends also saw their comment and the link back to my original post. (Yes, I can see link sources in the stats from Blogger.)

Up to that point the plagiarism post had been very popular on my blog, but it quickly passed the 3,000 view mark previously held by the post about organizing student work in Google Drive.

A single class of grad students, probably less than 20, all writing positive comments on a single blog post, sent out ripples of influence that drew a large number of views to a niche post for English teachers using Google Drive and concerned about plagiarism.

This afternoon I got an email from an ed tech friend, who generally avoids social media, but got a link to my post from a contact on Diigo. And so the cycle continues and people continue to learn tricks for supporting students, working smarter and quickly checking on the status of student writing.

Perhaps next semester the professor in Ohio will assign a new class of grad students to read and comment again and the post will continue it's influence. These ideas we put on the internet spread out, sometimes fast, sometimes slow, but people do eventually seem to find them and read them and, yes, spread them.

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