Brace yourself, fellow Thingers, for a positive SPATE of posts. I have been feeling very guilty about not blogging for a while, so this afternoon is designated catch-up time.
So, social networks, eh? I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with these. I signed up to Facebook on New Year’s Day 2007, thereby guaranteeing that my annual resolution to be more productive at work would fail. I think what I love about Facebook (and how terrible it is to admit to this) is the nosiness factor. It’s so interesting to see how half-forgotten people from dim and distant school days are getting on. And it’s easy to take this further than you should. One friend of mine instigated a self-imposed Facebook ban when she found herself spending an evening bitching about the wedding photos of complete strangers. (We’ve all done it.) So that’s where the hate comes in, I suppose – it turns you into an easily-distracted internet addict who is happy to judge people on the basis of one badly-posed photograph or a predilection for excessive use of ‘LOL’.
So I’ve always been a bit dubious about the usefulness of social media for work purposes. I don’t mind strangers judging me on the internet (well, not much), but I don’t want my work colleagues getting in on the action. I do use Twitter at conferences and find it a great way to connect with other delegates. I’ll definitely be using Lanyrd in this way too, now that I’ve found it. But I don’t think I’ll be upping my usage in between conferences.
One thing I must say about Twitter is that the compelling users – the ones you really care about following – have a nice mix of professional and personal comments. I love it when people point you at a resource but also give you their thoughts on it – admittedly, not the easiest thing to do in 140 words. One thing I’ve been thinking about a lot on this course is the idea of curating your online presence, and making sure that you are interesting without being indiscreet. I suspect that this is the real trick for social networks – you need to have enough of a personality that people will feel connected to you, but still be sufficiently professional that they will respect your knowledge and skills. It’s a tricky balance.