24 September 2008

#21 Get social

I have known about social networking for some time, but have not yet used them myself. So with this exercise I had a closer look at social networking.

Both Auckland and Rotorua Libraries' Bebo sites look good - obviously pitched towards the Young Adult library patrons. It is a good place to meet that group because that is where many of them spend their time socialising / keeping in contact. (They are known as the 'connected' generation.) Facebook doesn't allow exploration unless you sign up, though a colleague with a Facebook account has shown me a bit of Facebook. Had a look at MySpace - people's profiles, forums. The conversations seem so meaningless. Maybe if you have an account and develop relationships over time the nature of the conversations will change. Or, maybe the public profiles have parts they keep private. It would, of course, be a different story if you know that person in 'real' life, which makes sense to me. I know of a few people who keep in contact with family and friends through social networking sites.

Generally, I found these sites looking busy/cluttered. There is a whole culture in using social networking sites - came across this blog that is about Facebook etiquette - but at this stage I still feel reluctant to join. It looks like a lot of work and time involved. Tristan Louis wrote this article on 5 reasons why social networks fail. The points mentioned makes sense, but I found the comments on the post revealing especially those that relate their personal experiences on social networking:
  • We use these to keep in touch with people we ALREADY know or have met.
  • I have been in several groups over a number of years. It depends on what you put into a group as to what you get back. As my life has changed, I have moved away from some groups and toward others. It can be a lot of work.
  • I’ve yet to visit a network where I don’t think ‘what now?’. Okay, it’s a ‘lean back’ activity for people who want to browse / kill time, but man, I can think of better ways.
  • ... people are much more public in showing their character and have the opportunity to do so, much more easily online.
He also wrote another article on 5 reasons why social networks can succeed - very interesting points we need to take note of if the library wants to get involved in social networking.

There are also social networking sites for older adults: Eons, Rezoom, Multiply, Boomj, Boomertown. These sites have a different look - more uncluttered with articles of general interest to older adults. Will explore them when I have more time after this programme. Topic social networks, like Ning, attracts people interested in a specific topic - some more explorations to do later. Another place to learn more about social networks is this social networking watch site and this Social networking blog. Social networking is, like any web service, developing fast and it will be interesting to watch the emerging trends.

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