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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

What's up with ths social networking thing?

I've been spending a lot of time researching and trying out new web tools in preparation for the podcasts I'm planning for this year. It is absolultely mind-boggling to see how many companies are out there trying to be the next big thing. It's also amazing to see how many of these technologies are free - I'm assuming their goal is to become mainstream and then to be bought by Google or Microsoft or Yahoo.

One large component of these new tools are social networking sites. I have to admit, I'm a pretty private person and I don't do a lot of social networking beyond my friends and family, so these sites are a real mystery to me. For example, there is a VERY popular site call Twitter. (You know a tool has hit the big time when dozens of other developers are creating plug-ins to expand the tool.)

In a nutshell, Twitter is a microblog (I believe that's the correct lingo) which allows you to tell your followers every boring detail of your life. So I have two questions: 1) Are the mundanes details of my life interesting? Most Twitterers are like me and sit at a desk working at a computer. Do I need to broadcast when I go to lunch or whether I'm going to meet friends after work (can't I just do those things and not publish it to the world?) 2) Does anyone really care about these things? The goal of Twitter is to get others to follow your life. How many of us lead exciting enough lives that others would wait breathlessly for our next tweat (Twitter lingo for post)?

So, is there anyone out there who's into social networking? What sites do you use? Can you explain the allure?


Anonymous said...

Hi Andy,

I used to be a 'MySpacer' until it began affecting my personal relationship with my lovemate. Actually, it became a problem the moment that I announced that I had a MySpace account (trust issues; another story). I had the account long enough to explore some of its popular features such as posting mood status, setting & listening to mood altering music tracks, searching for & keeping in touch with old friends & family, reading interesting blogs, commenting on others' pages, sifting through multitudinous pictures, and using fancy graphics like sparkly avatars (phew). I think that I succeeded and conquered my mission of finding long lost friends from elementary and high school through the use of networking and even made some new acquaintances via 'friend requests'. I have to admit it was fun while it lasted, but I regarded my relationship with my life partner as being more important than to continue contributing to the 'MySpace' phenomena. So, I deleted my account never to return back to it under any circumstances.

I've since been apart of a few other social networking communities such as www.naturallycurly.com specifically for individuals with curly hair to gain support and to share suggestions on how to care for curly and/or kinky hair, www.youtube.com (which I've recently closed) to share and comment on videos, and newly www.dailystrength.com, hence the title, which is used to share my emotional, mental, physical, psychological, and social hardships with others who are experiencing much of the same and to give & receive advice, suggestions, as well as indirect therapy. While I'm not so familiar with Twitter, I don't know how much I'd be comfortable with divulging so much detail of my personal life. I love to write, but I think the more we as 'bloggers' put out into cyberland, the more vulnerable we become, which could have some advantages, but many disadvantages. Besides, I don't really believe that it's the safest method of communication. I'll have to check out the site to make more of an educated decision on how affective this social networking process is.

Thanks for bringing this to my attention, though since I've never even heard of this site. I find that blogging in essence, helps me to share some of my feelings being careful, though not to give up too much personal information. It helps to know that other readers may have gone through what I've experienced and can perhaps help me in making better life decisions as well as just knowing that someone else out in cyberland is listening. The allure for me is the social aspect of it all; knowing that I'm not alone; that someone actually finds me interesting...intriguing to say the least and honestly, it feeds my ego (in a positive way, of course) and helps me to cope with life's curve balls. Most of all, it's personal in that I can express myself in my own unique way. I don't have to hide behind a facade. I can be myself (or personify some other entity if I choose to). I think social networking is great in this age of technology for those who desire to join in on a virtual community of others who desire the same thing.

Andy Egizi, Program Coordinator said...

I think I agree with you. It seems that social networking has some really useful functions but, beneath the surface, it's not very social - it's you, sitting there by yourself, typing while the real world moves on. Hopefully, I can find some of the useful aspects and take advantage of them.

I really agree with you that we should limit how much we divulge of ourselves. I think it's great to share experiences but I think it's healthy to set a limit. Much of who I am as a person is reserved for me and the people I'm closest with so to splash this out to the world seems to trivialize who I am.

Anonymous said...

Yes, limits and boundaries are totally the key. I don't want to be transparent, I want to be seen as a person of substance with a dash of mystery thrown in. However, not everyone thinks along those same lines. Personally, I would choose to respect their decisions to remain limitless with no boundaries if that is who they truly are as individuals. I feel that if you know me inside and out (no pun intended), then there really is no depth to me, which is not exactly the 'thing' that I'm going for.

Dan B said...

"What's up with this social networking thing?" Darned if I know. I started to set up a MySpace account - I don't know why, I guess just because everybody else's got one - but I thought the site creation framework was a colossal screwed up mess. It took forever to set anything up to look decent - and I've got a certificate in web design, so I'm no stranger to html and css and W3C standards. Anyway, it was so annoying I just quit & it's still there half-finished. It's really useless to me, I think I'm going to delete it.

I like checking out personal web sites with their own domain names much better. One site I stumbled on and visit occasionally is Wendy W. Fok's "Monitoring the World" at www.wishiewashie.com, although she doesn't update it too often. What's really impressive is the travel experience on Wendy's resume. Is there anyplace on the globe this lady hasn't visited, and I don't think she's even 30 yet. And to think I thought I was a cool, jaded traveler at 15 because I had been in 25-30 states, most of them briefly glimpsed from the back seat of a station wagon.

Dan B said...

Seriously, I think a lot of this "social networking" is instigated by a sense of anonymity driven by the modern media. Everybody wants to stand out, somehow, and without the anchor of a good education many people are hoodwinked by such things as "reality" tv into believing that if the mundane trivial aspects of the lives of Anna Nicole, the Osbournes, and Tori Spelling are fascinating to the general public, the mundane trivial aspects of everybody's lives should be equally as interesting.

I believe that people who are "engaged" in and with the world - in every sense of the word - don't have this feeling of anonymity. A education that takes root in a person, rather than one that is only superficial (just a means to an end), can provide a person with the tools for this type of engagement.

Dan B said...

...AN education...sheesh!

Anonymous said...

To Dan B:

LOL...it's ok Dan, we all know what you meant. Even the best of us make typos. It's all good, though!