Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Social Networked-Out

I think it was when I got the invitation to the BYU-Idaho online instructors’ social networky thingy that I finally snapped.

Snapped is probably a bad word for it. Felt a teense overwhelmed, perhaps.

Social networks are, of course, de rigeur nowadays, and everyone has them. From knitters – you bet your perled little booties that there’s a social network exclusively for knitters – to, yes, the multiple, and I mean multiple, social networks to which BYU-Idaho has invited me, there are plenty of social networks to go around.

And that’s great news. I, myself, am involved on a foundational level with Uncharted, a social network of its own standing (more on that in just a little bit). That the Internet can provide venues for like-minded people to gather and share information and comeradeship is a wonderful thing, if they’re managed properly. BYU-Idaho’s networks, right now, are giving me fits but that’s likely because I’m new to navigating the whole system. (Surely, somewhere, there must be a Facebook-like option for me to see everything that’s going on in the multitude of little BYU-Idaho networks I’m tied to at the moment.)

Many moons ago – I might have a copy of it somewhere – I wrote a short story outlining the life of a man so dependent on computer technology for his work and social interaction that he rarely left his home, instead focusing on his work which came to him via email and in a cloud-sorta thing (this was just at the advent of email and before anyone had heard of The Cloud, so I was a bit prescient there) to the exclusion of all else. When the power went out and he had to go outside to see what was going on, he was overwhelmed by the beauty of nature, the multiplicity of marigolds that had spilled out of their flower beds and overrun his disused driveway, and by the death of his next-door neighbor, dead at her computer in a room with the shades drawn at the exclusion of all else.

No nevermind on that. Just brought it up as an example of why maybe the BYU-Idaho social network pushed me over the brink. I’m social networked-out.

Let’s go over the roll-call: Facebook. Twitter. Google+. Uncharted. BYU-Idaho. GoodReads. LinkedIn. Did I miss any? Plenty. And these are only the ones I’m involved in to any degree. Plus the family of blogs I run, including this one. They don’t necessarily count as social networking because it’s not social networking when you’re yelling into an empty room, but I’ll include them here for argument’s sake.

There are plenty more out there I could join. Obviously doing so would drive me insane.

I’m not dissing any of the social networks I’m involved in. or those I’m not involved in. I guess what I’m saying is that I’ve reached a saturation point. I’ve reached the point where I need a social networking website that collects all the information from my other social networks and presents it in one convenient package.

Not likely, per Jeff Tinsley, one of the original brains behind mylife.com, a website aiming to be the “one social network to rule them all.” Says Tinsley:

The fact is, no matter how great, no one network is able to deliver on every front. For instance, can any platform match Twitter when it comes to short, instant global communication? Or will any network ever equal Facebook when it comes to making and sustaining connections the world over? Users will embrace a variety of sites, each of which excels at its unique method of connecting, sharing and more.

For the future of social networking, that means tolerance is key, and integration and management tools will have essential roles to play. Those that succeed will offer users simple, comprehensive solutions to maintain their connections and make new ones.

Sure, users recognize that a definitive, end-all platform to communicate may be ideal. But it isn’t essential. People will share, friend, link, circle, pin, like, tweet and post — and they’ll do it happily. They know that when it comes to making quality connections, “more” is always better. Social networking, it turns out, isn’t a zero sum game after all.
I guess I’m getting old. Don’t have the attention span any more.

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