Saturday, August 15, 2009

Online Social Network Diversity

I haven't been blogging as much lately. I've been blogging for years now and have never really had a problem coming up with content. I would just write what was on my mind. Now, all the sudden I'm faced with a decision of what to write, where it should go, who should see it, etc... I feel as thought I have consumed too many social networking sites. Now when I want to share a thought or story, I have to run through a series of questions in my head to decide where to post it, and most I times I end up just saying "screw it" and end up not sharing it at all.

In the past, when I was just blogging, if I wanted to write about something, I didn't think about it, I just gave it a title, wrote what I wanted to say, and gave it a few tags. Period. That's what I still love about blogging. However, ever since I've started using all of these other social networking sites (ie. Twitter, Facebook, GoWagon, FriendFeed, and (yes, even) Google Reader), I've noticed that they all have the same theme about them; they all want you to be the "One Stop Shop" for your online experience.

I didn't understand blogging at first when I started it back in 2004. I enjoyed reading blogs and I learned a lot from them, but to write my own seemed weird... until I started doing it. Then I got it! I still love it, and need to get back into it. I will continue blogging until I flat run out of things to talk about... which is never going to happen. This is great for writing a random journal entry out of the blue. It's also great for sharing your thoughts on what is going on in the world, or some random content on the Internet. It's good for anything. It can be one word, it could be one thousand words. Just type!

To be honest, I didn't get Twitter at first either and it took me a few months to understand its purpose and power. It's basically just a service that let's you be a "lazy blogger". I can go out to twitter and write 10 words about what I did today and be done. I may even respond to some random tweet from a buddy from yesterday just to say "hey, I read your tweet" or whatever. It's still a bit strange to me how I communicate with so many people through twitter and only know what they look like through their profile pic. :) This is a great service for bookmarking content as well. For example, when I post this blog entry, my twitter feed will show that I posted a blog feed with a link to it. Very handy!

This is a great service for building a professional network. It's a bit advertisy and has some spam elements to it, but all in all it's a great service. It's like having an online resume with various professional acquaintances attached to your resume. Head hunters can go out here and find you or you can go out and find companies from this service. You build your network and recommend people that have worked for you and so forth to help them out, etc... Again, it's a great service if you can see past all of the (growing) advertising crap.

When I was introduced to FriendFeed, I was just a blogger (nothing else) and I didn't really get it at first either. Once I started using multiple online engines to aggregate my content, it clicked! This is the real "one stop shop" for all online activity. You can link up almost any online service to this engine and let it aggregate it into a single "stream" of content. So, for example, if you want to know where I'm at or what I did while I was online at anytime, simply check out I love this service, but don't spend much time on it's website like I probably should. I highly recommend that everybody get a FriendFeed account if you have multiple online services you subscribe to. For example, you can link your Amazon wish list to this service, your Netflix queue, Flickr feed, Twitter, anything... Check it out!!

Love it! In a matter of minutes after signing up, I was instantly connected with my entire graduating class, and everybody else that I ever came into contact with in my 31 years (or so it seems). There are some people that send me friend requests that I barely even know, but (sometimes) I accept them anyway thinking maybe this is a great way to meet them. I thought it was so great that I even talked Jennifer into signing up. Once she signed up, and figured out how to use it, she was instantly hooked, and has been ever since. The word "Facebook" enters a conversation everyday in this house now. I think it's great to have such a tool, I really do! For example, she will now post something totally zany on her Wall, and immediately she gets responses from random people. Some she might know very well, others she may have never met before. Kweepy?

This is what I use for my online photo album. The reason I got started using it is because I love the Picasa Photo application! It is what Jennifer and I use for managing our tens of thousands of digital pictures. It's easy to use, extremely powerful, and best of all, it's free. I can easily upload photos to my online Picasa web album with a single click. it is for this reason that I have a PicasaWeb account. It's also pretty slick for sharing photos with the family and friends from around the world as our girls grow more and more every day. Yes, I know it's rather outdated and I need to upload some pics. :)

I use this service for sharing my workouts online with my active buddies. I have met so many people from around the world through this service. It started out as, but the brainchild behind that site (my buddy, Ben) integrated a Facebook-style service that lets other outdoor enthusiasts share their workouts in the stream-like fashion and has "Wall" concept for writing on other peoples feeds. There is a lot of overlap with Facebook here, but this site is directly related to athletes. If you like to do outdoor activities (running, biking, hiking, surfing, walking, whatever...), you should definitely check it out.

Google Reader
I use this service for reading blogs. It's got a new element to it now similar to Facebook and FriendFeed in that you can "Like" posts and share posts with comments so that others may see blog posts that you might find interesting or worthy of sharing. While some online services let you share web content, Google Reader is mainly aimed towards sharing blog posts. Period. It's a killer service and lets you see how much you use the site and so on. I can't live happily in cyberspace without my Google Reader.

All of these services combined are making the world a much smaller and fast paced place to live. There is a lot of overlap in all of these online services, but these are the ones that I use and I've briefly described how I use them. Who knows maybe one day there will be a single online site that I use for all of my social networking. Could it be Google Wave? Not sure, we'll see...


Kim said...

Nice post. I have some friends who use Twitter exclusively. Since I have limited web access at work now (not a bad thing!) twitter tends to move too quickly.
I use Facebook because lots of runners use the site.
I think I will check out Friendfeed to see if it will save me time.I also may check out Gowagon. I am horrible about using onling workout logs. I probably have accounts at 8 of them, can't remember names or URL's or passwords to them.
I use Bloglines for my blog reading-I think I subscribe to about 150 blogs-happily, not everyone updates all the time.
Sadly, the FB and Twittering has cut into the blog world, not as long content as it's been in the past.

Mark Carroll said...

Great post. I've never even heard of half of the products you mentioned. All I have to say to you is just sit and write. Your thoughts are golden. Don't edit them ever pleez!