Social network here, there and everywhere

Monday, October 20th, 2008 @ %I:%M %p | Life

dashboard21.jpgHow the world has progressed from mailing lists and bulletin board systems. Where is Compuserve?

I continue to find “social networking” fascinating. I put the term between quotes; it is not as if humans weren’t socially networking before the founding of MySpace or Facebook. All these nodes in the world wide web do underwrite that humans are social animals first. The success of the telephone a century ago, the ringtone explosion, Japanese teenagers sending each other grainy photographs on their mobile phones and so on.

Social networking intrigues me both personally and professionally. I live in Rochester, NY but most of my family and many of my friends are elsewhere – personal web sites, Facebook friends, twitter updates all help staying in touch with each other and so over a distance of thousands of miles and six time zones I still know that Gero is stuck in a 3 1/2 hour traffic jam due to a truck accident. I have to say though that much of my family is disappointedly cyberspace-inactive. Professionally it helps maintaining connections with peers in the industry while we all move positions, change jobs – and it adds to a manager’s ability to stay aware of the professional well-being of remote colleagues (Facebook status updates can give interesting hints on a colleague’s gearing up for a job change). In my usage I try to separate LinkedIn contacts and Facebook friends between professional, work-related and personal respectively although the line is rather blurry.

Facebook, MySpace, Twitter are all so successful also because they feed into the narcissistic tendencies of many of us allowing us, encouraging us to twirl our experiences, our virtues onto the world. I happily do. Yesterday I went on a bike ride. Before the ride I twitter that I am about to do this and I twitter upon return. The pictures from the ride need to be uploaded to my .Mac gallery, to Flickr, to Facebook and I need to write about the ride on this blog. The stats recorded by my bicycle computer are uploaded to BikeJournal. If I read something interesting on cycling or social networking then I need to bookmark that to del.icio.us. And in between I need to worry about my Technorati authority (only 2, what’s up with that?). All this easily takes much more time than the bike ride itself.

Am I profiling myself enough? How much would my personal brand gain if I also joined Friendster, Friendfeed, Plaxo, Livejournal? Heard the other day that World of Warcraft is becoming Golf of this millennium – the place where business deals get done. I never played golf so maybe I have a shortcut here?

At the same time email is still a key communication tool. With the 11066 unread emails I have as of this writing, keeping up with all the twitter messages, facebook status updates, flickr discussions etc etc how do you stay abreast of that deluge of information? How do you know what to pay attention to and when? How to avoid being interrupted by each incoming email during writing a paper or software? Last week I unfollowed someone because he was just twittering too much.

An MIT project now implemented at MovableType, Action Streams, can be useful. Action Streams allow you to aggregate and share your actions and profiles around the web in one place. Maybe that can optimize my “post ride”-workflow?Ambient information devices then help you assess the state of information waiting for you. There is the Chumby – love to get a few of those. There’s the glowing orb. The cute rabbit by Nabaztag.

For now I am starting in a cheap and simple way. Our Mac Mini is supposed to be our media server but actually spends a lot of its time on my desk. By keeping it in Dashboard mode I can have occasional glances at stock quotes, the weather, San Francisco web cams, IP addresses on our home network, Dutch headlines, Facebook and twitter updates, and a world clock.

 

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