Monday, August 17, 2009

Week #10 -- Social Networking & Microblogging

OK. I'm old. I just don't get the point of Twitter or most of the other microblogging sites at all. I set up an account a while ago, looked around, posted something and never went back until I got an email that someone was following me. Why? I went back there today because of this lesson, plugged a couple of searches in and nothing has changed. It's still just a lot of random comments. Why would anyone care that a stranger stopped at Starbucks on their way to work, or someone couldn't get into their favorite jeans, or that someone else hopes a certain fashion trend goes away soon because they hate the look. Back in the stone age, when I was young, those were the kinds of comments that were made in conversations with your girlfriends. You chatted about nonsensical things and it was fun and funny because these were your friends. I find it sad working on a large university campus to see so many people walking alone but phoning or text messaging their friends all day long. I used to spend time with my friends and all those messages were delivered in person. Have we evolved into a generation of loners who don't know how to interact with other people in person? They're now offering classes in some high schools to teach students how to interview for college or jobs. I have a niece who comes to family events and sits in the corner with a hand held game or phone or whatever and doesn't talk to anyone after she says "hello".

On the other hand, in moderation, social networking can be useful. I do like Facebook. And I actually stop in once in a while. Unlike Twitter, I'm connected to people I know, many of whom live far away. It's nice to hear about what they're doing and see pictures of their kids or pets. Somehow this connection seems to have more of a purpose. Also, occasionally if I'm on at the same time as my daughter, we do talk to each other there instead of on the phone.

In looking through some of the sites in this lesson I also found that I like Digg. It seems to be composed mostly of news items--sometimes weird news items. I linked it to my Bloglines. But there's also a link to Facebook and if I'm reading things correctly, doing so will make it available to all my friends. Do I really want to inundate my friends with little news blurbs? Is that what happens? So I don't think I'll do that.

I had no idea there were so many social networking sites. People signed up on several must spend the entire day on the web. No wonder they have no time to BE with their friends? I think that I spend too much time just answering emails.


  1. Jan, I mostly agree with you about Twitter, but I did find some semi-useful things on there. NELINET is listed and they post links to their courses when they are offering new ones. Also there is one for library jobs, and some other things like that. If you're a news junkie you can follow CNN, E!, and others too. Of course there is celebrity news and gossip too. I bet you could follow People Magazine if you wanted to. I'm not tweeting on it either, but I did find some relevant things on there as far as libraries go.

  2. When I first looked at Twitter, late last year, it looked pretty pointless to me, too. If you don't know specific people on there to follow, and just look at the random stream of public comments, then, yes, it's (at least!) 99% trivial and boring.

    Also, to your general comment about people substituting online activities for face-to-face friendships, I'd agree that's a problem. On the other hand, Twitter does allow you to make connections with people you would never meet otherwise, in your day-to-day interactions with the people who live and work right next to you. I suppose, the more naturally sociable a person is (and, you are, while I, as you can probably tell, really am not) the more online socializing looks like a pale imitation of "real" interaction. However, even if you much prefer your actual friends to random online strangers, I'd advocate for the taking another peak into Twitter. For any subject your interested in, you can find out what a diverse cross-section of people are saying about it. For instance, I entered "Paul McCartney" into the Twitter search box: and got that huge list of tweets. I found some of my Twitter contacts simply by entering search terms, then tweeting back at the people whose comments interested me. Yeah, I can see how that might seem weird to someone who is used to actually meeting people. But, it also opens up new worlds, in terms of conversing with people you would never otherwise have contact with.

  3. Oops, the Paul McCartney search I made didn't appear as an actual link. I'll try to use html to make one: people discussing Paul McCartney on Twitter