Making sense of the social networking scene

I don’t know about you but I currently have a love/hate relationship
with social networking? Hasn’t it become awfully confusing? How do you
know which one to go for or to adopt as the hub of your on-line world?
Above all what is the point of it all? Who is gaining, users or
development companies?

FACEBOOK (or “In The Face book” perhaps?)

My addiction to Facebook has dwindled somewhat over the past few
months, after what initially seemed likely to be a lifelong addiction.
I seldom visit nowadays, for being flooded with invitations to play
poker, kill a vampire or poke somebody else’s wife (which just sounds
way too dodgy to me). Some people have too much spare time and are
probably claiming my tax. The groups that a friend and I created at
the start have completely lost their direction and indeed many other
groups on there seemed to have lost their momentum too. How many times
have you been invited to sign a petition to keep Facebook from being
sued by a rival company? If the claims are true, well more fool them!
Mind you I quite liked the one entitled “Jeremy Clarkson should be
Prime Minister”, that made me chuckle with a sense of irony.

Strip away the crappy applications that prove some bedroom hacker has
the talent (or ability) to code and what you are left with is a very
well designed core product. Instead it has become bloated and as
result – a platform for pointlessness.

Don’t get me wrong I do like Facebook but I think it will eventually
lose out to its cleaner shaven rivals.

TWITTER

Unlike Facebook Twitter has stuck to its original plan and a very
simple one it is too. People can tell the world what they are doing
right now, a concept that has become known as “micro-blogging” along
with “Tumblers” and other such innovations. You can follow “friends”
who can in turn follow you. Its a simple, simple idea and works really
well. I use my account a lot, simply because updating it is easy, so
easy in fact, my Parents could probably use it. Every now and again I
can blast off a little update (no more than 140 chars long) and up it
pops on Twitter for my “disciples” to read or throw insults back at me
as is often the case! Since I am such a geek, my “Tweets” are posted
automatically on this site, Plaxo, Facebook and FriendFeed. In fact
both Plaxo and Facebook import these as statuses. This is all made
possible through Web 2.0 techniques known as “mash-up” where various
sites can integrate together to assimilate information, even if it is
stuff such as “I have just bought a new Album, it is great”!!! I often
wonder if all of this cyber-hyper-activity will bring the Internet to
a halt or turn it into the M25 of the tech world. In all seriousness
this is clever stuff surely not? Well I think so as its a great way of
spreading awareness of your expertise, your website projects and
gaining new-found knowledge. There are of course some concerns
currently over personal security and I will always advise people not
to advertise the fact they are “on holiday” through any social sites.
You just don’t know who may be lurking in the background.

FRIENDFEED

If you are someone who finds a del.icio.us site every day that you
Stumbleupon, why not also digg it?! I also like having a flickr every
now and again through peoples photos. Why not Pownce around? Be a
“Twit” sometimes!

Pardon the puns….

In fact this is what Friend Feed is all about, it allows you to gather
all of those sites you are into and publish your blog, tweets, diggs,
stumbles and flicks along the way.

The problem I am finding with all of this is that there is a lot of
configuring to do and you end up inviting your poor unsuspecting
friends and relatives to a multitude of sites that are really all
Beta’s. Its only a matter of time before you start suffering from
information overload and lose your marbles. The information age is a
great thing but on the downside we are often spending too much time
procrastinating and getting nothing done. I fear that eventually
everyone will cotton on to this and realise what an addictive thing
social networking is and that they have forgotten about the more
important things in life.

I shall leave you with the question:

Do you think the social network bubble will burst and that everyone
will become sick to death of being poked or tickled by that kid they
thought they’d never see again after leaving school 20 years ago?

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