Coffee and dessert.
When I think of getting to know Paul Signorelli, I think about the numerous times we met for coffee and dessert at conferences. Our conversations would begin as we were in route – and perhaps lost – and continue while we ate and reviewed the day’s events. We would always discuss what we had learned and often consider what had hoped to learn but hadn’t. These conversations flowed easily because of our interaction on the podcast, T is for Training hosted by Maurice Coleman. Those podcast episodes led to wanting to meet in person, which led to many desserts, and then to deeper conversations. All of that led to Paul interviewing me for his latest book, Change the World Using Social Media.
When Paul decided to write this book, he knew he wanted to focus on how social media is being used broadly and not just in libraries. What a joy to have him ask about places where I was seeing social media be successful and where I thought an organization might be doing something different. With me and others, Paul mined our stories for nuggets of information which he could use. While the interview was the main course (sticking with the food theme), Paul was willing to pursue numerous sidebar conversations which might bear fruit for the book. These sidebars often became their own main courses. I’m pleased to see a particular story in his book which started off as a quick information snack and quickly developed into much more. “Topeka Proud” has become one of the main course stories that Paul frequently tells when talking about the book because of its unexpected twist (pp. 97-98).
Paul expanding interests intersect with teaching and learning, even if it’s not immediately apparent. This means that our long-distance coffee conversations now might cover broadband access, library advocacy, how activists are using social media, techniques for teaching online, and what we’ve been reading. For Paul, reading is the appetizer, main course, and dessert. No matter the topic, he always has an author or book to mention, and he’s always trying to convince me to snack on a particular title for a while!
Paul appreciates when an activist or speaker tries something new, even if it doesn’t turn out as planned. He encourages experimentation as a way of learning. To that end, he is willing to experiment and see where those experiments might lead. With Change the World Using Social Media, Paul decided to create a free Slack space so readers could interact with each other. He first mentions this Slack space on page 19 in the book. Imagine an author wanting to hear how readers were interacting with their book? Imagine having an ongoing Q&A with an author? This is what Paul setup as an experiment. The experiment hasn’t yet produced much fruit, so I hope the listeners of Circulating Ideas will engage with the book and jump into the Slack to discuss it.
Just bring your own coffee and dessert.
Jill Hurst-Wahl, Hurst Associates, Ltd., Syracuse, NY