Friday, February 26, 2010

only connect

The phrase Only connect was made famous by Forster in Howard's End (not that I've actually read it, but see What the Bee Knows by P. L. Travers for a wonderful discussion of it. Forster's sense of it, evidently, was cosmic, that we connect not only to each other but also our history as a species, our myths, across time and generations. My main interest in using social networks is like what
Kippe and Kopper said, “Recognize that what sustains most information technologies is people’s desire to connect with one another.”

Twitter has become my main source of new information, with Bloglines and email not far behind. I joined Twitter just to lurk and soon found hundreds of other users with similar interests, both professional and personal. One can manage the Twitter stream with Twitter lists (links to Twitter users sharing common information and support.)

What is a social network? Wikipedia discusses this with emphasis on physical and biological relationships such as family and kinship. Here, I consider the context of our online research environment and cyberinfrastructure such that, Social media are web tools that facilitate information exchange and social interactions.

At the same time as different companies with different clients contend for hegemony, the ones I use (Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Bloglines, Blogger, Diigo) all serve different purpose and i interact with different groups on each for different purposes. Munger, noting that not one channel dominates and reflecting on a virtual science conference from 2009, remarks: "the intersection between the online and the real, in science and in all other spheres of life, is likely to get even murkier in the future."

Is our conversation limited to 140 characters? While announcing the 140 character science paper competition, Richard Grant looks sceptically at social media's (such as Twitter's) use for disseminating scientific results.

Adoption of SM tools by libraries has gained some interest; for example, A survey of library users concludes that some 50% use social networks, photo editing tools and online video provided by their local library. Meanwhile our young digital natives know what they want from their library.

This is a huge topic about how to facilitate interactions between people, using these tools, businesses talking with their customers, sharing info rather than hoardnig it. Many are concerned about privacy and safety (and $.) Gordhamer suggests some good guidelines, such as brevity, not putting too much investment into getting an immediate response and using your counterpart's preferred communication channel. He emphasizes connecting with others for a shared, mutual interest. Tamsen also shares some tips for successful social media participation.

Further sources:

Richard Simon posted The Complete History (spanning some 30 yrs) of Social Networking on his blog.

Clay Shirky's Here Comes Everybody and Matthew Fraser's Throwing Sheep in the Boardroom are both good starting points on social media and consequences.

I don't mean to be a knol-it-all. ;) Garrett

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