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Social Media sites are all the rage. I'm on a few, are you?

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This is Leo Notenboom for askleo.net.

Social media sites are a big thing right now, so much so that there are so many it's hard to even know where to begin.

What do I mean by social media? Well, unless you've been disconnected from the internet for the past three years you should at least recognize sites like MySpace, but there are literally hundreds of others including things like LinkedIn, FaceBook, Flicker, Twitter, Digg, StumbleUpon, LiveJournal and on and on and on.

"... I sometimes feel like I'm still a 20th century luddite ..."

What these sites all share is that they each have a community of users and a way for the members of that community to invite others, link with others and communicate. Typically that means that after you link up by becoming someone's friend, or following them, or connecting to them, you're then able to see what they're up to, what they've posted or voted on or done recently, you're able to communicate with them in some way.

I know that for many people sites like MySpace, LiveJournal and FaceBook have almost replaced email as a primary means of communicating within their social circle.

That's pretty significant.

So, where do I hang out?

Well, to be honest, I sometimes feel like I'm still a 20th century luddite (if there is such a thing) as email is still my preferred medium, but I'm on a few of the services:

  • Twitter is a lot like text messaging a bunch of your friends all at once. It doesn't require a phone (though it can in fact be done via SMS). It's fascinating and very informal and even fun.

  • LinkedIn has an almost professional feel to it - meaning that it's where a lot of business folks seem to be connecting. I've reconnected with a lot of former colleagues here.

  • FaceBook feels much more informal and social - not terribly surprising since it started as student-only service. I don't spend a lot of time here, but I do check it out occasionally.

  • Now I had a MySpace account that I canceled some time ago due to all the noise and the fact that I never generally used it. Given its incredible popularity, I just recreated one so that I can test a few things out there if I need to.

Even though it feels like the glory days of MySpace may be over, more focussed and niche social media sites are growing and thriving. People are constantly looking for ways to connect, share interests and even solve problems. Having a large circle of like minded friends and connections is one way to make that possible.

So how do you use social media? Which ones do you use and why? What opportunities do you see?

Visit askleo.net and enter 12365 in the go to article number box to access the show notes including links to my profiles on the services I just mentioned, the transcript and to leave me a comment. While you're there, browse the hundreds of technical questions and answers on the site.

Till next time, I'm Leo Notenboom, for askleo.net.

Find me on:

  • Twitter (anyone can follow me)
  • LinkedIn (please don't be insulted, but I accept connections only from people I know)
  • FaceBook (please don't be insulted, but I accept friend requests only from people I know)
  • MySpace (friend me if you like, and I'll accept when I can - I'm just not sure why you would)

Article C3356 - April 21, 2008 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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4 Comments
Mark
April 21, 2008 12:20 PM

I'm with you on the email Leo. I'm an academic and that is just the way we get things done these days. Less formally, I use Facebook to keep up with college friends. It's a great way to touch base and see what people are up to without having to spend hours tracking them down. It's a great cure for "I wonder whatever happened to....?" queries.

dunstergirl
April 26, 2008 12:02 AM

Another Luddite, I primarily use email as well. For me it's more about the amount of time spent on line socializing as opposed to actually getting things done - email is fast and easy and almost everyone I ever knew that I would still want to be in touch with has email addresses (my highschool was online long before Facebook etc. so I pretty much know whatever happened to so and so).

And my "active" social group (those in my own community) I see on a regular basis and have email for those short easy bits of communication. What ever happened to face-to-face conversations or even the telephone? We still use those methods a lot here out in the boonies...

I just find it a bit weird that electronic communications have almost superceded face-to-face (or even voice) connections even when people live practically next door.

I think perhaps email and other forms of electronic communication feel "safer" in some way, and I am guilty of same in certain situations. My kid is currently using email to reconcile with her father (who lives less than a mile away) - and I don't know if that's a good thing or not.

Thanks for a thought-provoking piece, even if it wasn't intended to provoke the thoughts I had...

J
April 26, 2008 1:03 AM

Hi Leo,
You may be an IT genius, but the world of online life seems to have passed you by a little.
I use MySpace, www.myspace.com/airborne_cowboy, not because it is a good site (in fact, featurewise it sucks) but because of the variety of people on there.
Now when you write "friend me if you like, and I'll accept when I can - I'm just not sure why you would", you don't understand the way it works (at least amongst us youngsters). We make 'friends' with all the bands/people who we like/admire, then others who visit your profile because they think IT is cool, see me as a friend/ or as a commenter and then might notice me, and start talking to me.
There are a few more tricks e.g. put on a photo of a famous person, tag it, all their 'friends' notice your profile.

I have only been on for a couple of months, and already made a few real friends.

Nicholas Gimbrone
April 26, 2008 1:33 PM

I prefer the term "high tech luddite"... high tech when it makes sense, but not as an ends in and of itself.

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