Sociably Waving Not Drowning (much)

I’m getting  a little social networked out.  I mean, its hard work keeping your twitter tweeting, facebook updated, and Google waves waving (seriously in danger of a standing wave there…).  With additional stuff like MyRSC (the Royal Society of Chemistry’s social networking site),  Nature Network, keeping up with blogs and glancing at FriendFeed, I’ve just had enough.  Too many passwords, user names and site specific quirks. (and I didn’t even mention linked in or ning). [Google the sites if you need links]

I like compartmentalizing so only a handful of contacts/friends/followers/whatevers are contacts on more than one site.  That’s fine with me – that way I can control what information I look at and avoid the ‘my cat just died’ facebook statuses when I really want some random science related links in tweets.  All the sites have strengths and weaknesses, and I would find it very hard to pick just one site if told that I had to consolidate my network.

I like Google Wave so far and have a small number of contacts on it.  As a formatted text editor, it isn’t great but for plain text drafting of ideas with collaborators it is pretty good.  I don’t think it will replace email in a hurry (if it is even intended to) mainly because of the instant nature of it.  In a conversation earlier this evening words were appearing as typed in the document, in real time.  A strength? Perhaps but also a weakness.  Reply-all causes enough trouble with ‘real’ email – the last thing we need is people seeing the half formed thoughts,  hastily typed, before the pre-send edit process.

I decided to give Twitter a 30 day trial a few months ago, and now 900 tweets later I’m still going strong.  I like Twitter for short snappy messages and while I find answering the ‘what are you doing’ question somewhat tedious,  many of the people I follow have great content-rich tweets.  Twitter is reputedly great for conferences.  I would have to disagree.  While hash tags are a good way to collect relevant content together, it is impossible to see who said what in reply to what in large streams. Simply, threaded comments are a must when discussing conferences – particularly those with parallel sessions and/or many users.  Friendfeed has the advantage here, but lacks the snappiness of Twitter, and the real time feed.

Facebook is ‘so last year’, but I tend to use this more as a friend thing, rather than a networking tool for work or collaborative tool.  I think that’s fair – that’s what it was designed for. No, I don’t have  a problem with students as friends on Facebook provided that they are using their own name and don’t use it too often as an alternative means of communication (my university prefers official email accounts and I agree with that).

As for the other sites, well, I use them when I remember the password or can be bothered with the 10 minute battle to recover my password.  I could cherry pick some features – like the timeline feature and hash tags of Twitter with threaded conversations like Friendfeed (perhaps with the ability to expand/collapse threads) and the ability to share larger documents like Google Wave.  Farmyard games, stupid quiz notifications and under used social network sites I can live without.

One Reply to “Sociably Waving Not Drowning (much)”

  1. Totally and completely agree. I’d also say that I prefer sites that allow asymmetric relationships (e.g., Twitter) to those that require that I read about others’ breakfasts just because they want to read about mine (e.g., Facebook).

    Mostly I wish though that I could get some of my students and collaborators to see the utility of any of this. I think Wave could be a great way to outline a proposal or conference presentation, but I’ve not met with great success trying to even get people to use Docs, much less anything “fancier.”

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