And yes, I’m using internet as a verb.
1) there are a whole bunch of people who are on the internet on social sites because they like to interact with others. (My genius, it astounds you, yes?)
2) there are a whole bunch of other people who are not on the internet because they think social sites are either a waste of time or boring or masturbatory and they believe that the onset of this fascination with having to post constant snippets of what we’re doing throughout the day is the indication that our society is in a freefall of decline. (#doomedsocietyfail, for you twitter only people.)
3) and since that group #2 isn’t on here to voice their opinion, I will give you the brief versions of their objections, translated into site-specific-speak so they will be counted:
a) Twitter version of objections: u ppl suck, u spnd 2 mch time u shd B wrkng
b) Facebook version of objections: The Non-Internet People would like you to know that they participated in sixteen hundred charity walk-a-thons, cured three thousand and twelve diseases, adopted five-hundred and forty-two dogs and one cat, were kind to children and little old ladies, and smelled actual real flowers today. What are you doing?
c) MySpace version of objections: You wankers.
That said, social sites are here, and we all (the rest of us), seem to like them. We could debate whether or not the sites are a good thing or a bad thing, whether they are, in fact, the signal of the imminent destruction of the fabric of society or a source of information and a creation of bonds across socio-economic boundaries or whether or not it’s really important that you know that Joe Q Public had accidentally shaved his left eyebrow today, (which might be a handy thing to know if you ran into a one-brow guy in an alley, you’d understand that glowering expression was a demonstration of his embarrassment and angst at having been caught with just one brow and not an indication that you are about to die at the business end of a bloody pipe)…. ANYWAY… we could debate all of that.
But what I really want to know is how do you interact?
I have been online since… hmmm. ’94. Not exactly the first wave, but not long after. I’ve blogged (we used to call it “journaling”) for over ten years now (and wish I had all of those archives). When I first started writing a journal online, there were maybe a thousand people putting their life and thoughts up on the internet and there was a huge debate about it (a) being a fad that would dissipate within a year and (b) that no one would want to read the thoughts and observations of someone’s personal journey and (c) it was too hard to do, because we had to code by hand. In fact, I remember the first WYSIWYG editor I used and noting that some people who shall remain nameless (Kymm Zuckert, I love you) who was one of the very very first journallers online had an “edited by hand, WYSIWYG is for pussies” note at the bottom of her journal. I learned more about my career from the internet and friends I met there than from every bit of school I ever had combined. I’ve stayed on top of hot topics and learned the most interesting (and random) bits of facts. So for the record, I kinda love the internet with a gooey chocolate-covered fervor.
Right now, though, I am dating Tweetdeck. I like the program for its obvious attraction—I can open both twitter and facebook in its own column. For twitter, I can open a column where I see replies directly to me (and unless I close the program, they stay there, so if I’m away from the computer for a day and come back later, I can see that someone replied). I can see direct messages. (The plus to direct messages is that none of us can spend hours on email exchanges—these have to be 140 characters in length. The downside? Tweetdeck does not let you send a direct message to someone unless they are following you. So if you are following them and want to respond directly and only to them, you must send it publicly via an @reply, and sometimes, I just don’t wanna.) The advantage I have with Tweetdeck is that it automatically refreshes, and I can leave it on in the background and scan it at a glance, see the conversations, jump in where I want, or go back to work.
Tweetdeck also has a feature that lets you post simultaneously to Twitter and Facebook. This, to me, was a good thing—if I’m posting some observation (random), it’s generally meant for both groups. Sometimes I am responding to something on Twitter, but I want my friends on Facebook to see it, too, because it is a link to something I think is either funny or interesting. However, if you leave that damned little Facebook box checked, Tweetdeck will post everything you reply to over to Facebook… particularly “re-tweets.” (For the uninitiated, “re-tweets” is the ability to see a tweet from someone else, click a button and send that item out to all of your own followers—with the designation “RT @originalpersonhere” in front of the tweet to indicate just who posted the original item.)
(It has been pointed out to me that a lot of Facebook people really do not like the double-identical posts, even the ones where it is an original post. Um. Oops.)
What I really do not like about Tweetdeck is that I can see the Facebook status updates in a column, but I cannot post a comment there without it pulling up my browser and opening a new window. If I’d wanted multiple windows open, I wouldn’t need Tweetdeck, now, would I? I also cannot see my email account, which, in a perfect world, would be open in another column. (I have heard about Google Wave… but as Mary Frances Makichen pointed out in a link to a review (that I have now lost), it may have real issues of linearity—which means, it may be very difficult to follow conversations. The real benefit right now of Twitter and/or Facebook (I rarely check Myspace) is that they are linear. The conversations are relatively easy to follow, or backtrack if you’ve lost track. Google Wave may address this issue, since it has been pointed out to them from beta testers.)
So, while dating Tweetdeck has been nice, I think it may be my temporary boyfriend. I’m looking for something that’s handier, does everything in one place, and allows for cross-platform interactivity. Yes, I know, I want it all.
Which leads to a wide open set of questions today (answer as many as you’d like):
1) Do you Twitter? Facebook? Myspace? All three? Have a preference? (post links people!)
2) Which is your favorite? Or is your time evenly divided?
3) How do you interact? Regular browser open to that page? Some application?
4) Do you think interacting on these sites has helped your life? Interfered with your productivity? Sucked up too much time? Helped your career?
5) If you had to make a wish list for everything that a social-site-interface would do, what would you love to have incorporated?