twitter vs. facebook vs. myspace vs…. oh holy hell, how do you internet

by Toni McGee Causey

And yes, I’m using internet as a verb.

Now, this is not a post about whether or not we should spend our time on the internet utilizing things such as twitter, facebook, myspace, etc. I’m taking it as a given that:

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?

 

45 thoughts on “twitter vs. facebook vs. myspace vs…. oh holy hell, how do you internet

  1. Rhian

    Interesting questions, Toni, especially for me as I only recently joined Twitter. Until then, I couldn’t see the use of it, but my eyes have been opened. In order:
    (1) On Facebook, but don’t like it and don’t use it much. Even with a relatively new PC, it seems to take ages to load. Find all that poking lark silly. Never had an interest in MySpace. Yes, on Twitter.
    (2) Obviously, I favour Twitter, but drop into Facebook occasionally, only to find a full inbox that needs clearing of (mainly) garbage…
    (3) Tend to log into Twitter and not log out, even if I am not looking at it in the tab, when I am at the PC for an extended length of time.
    (4) It can suck up time, yes. But I discovered that publishing companies and PR firms are using Twitter to connect with readers. I very quickly found that a few of them started to follow me and even The Bookseller on one quiet Saturday morning. There’s also lot of quick chat about books; announcement of upcoming releases and competitions; notification of prizes shortlisted and awarded. It has certainly broadened the net for publishers finding me and wanting to send me books.
    (5) Something as quick and direct as Twitter but with some more characters and the ability to follow a conversation.

    Reply
  2. billie

    Don’t do Twitter, Facebook, or MySpace.

    I have been on the internet since 1993 and email is one of my favorite things on the earth. I enjoy blogging quite a lot too.

    I don’t know how anyone keeps up with all the social sites.

    Reply
  3. R.J. Mangahas

    Oh boy, here’s a fun topic.

    I’ll say this. For my writing self, I have a Twitter, Facebook and MySpace (RARELY checked). Great for networking (I have met some people on my lists). I am also building a website and maintain a blog (on a somewhat regular basis).

    As for my personal self, I have A Facebook and MySpace. I think these are great to catch up with people who I’ve lost contact with over the years. However, for both accounts, I personally know 98% of my "friends." See, I’m a strange person. I actually like iinteracting with people face to face. Call me nuts, but hey….

    Reply
  4. L.J. Sellers

    Social networking is not only great fun, but it’s been very helpful in building a readership. Most of my online time is spent on Twitter and Facebook. I use a service that lets me update to Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn all at once. I also have pages or presence at CrimeSpace, Backspace, and several others. I also do a lot of blogging, guest blogging, and blog reading/commenting 🙂
    Yes, it takes time, but it’s productive in the long run, and fun in the short run. My writing life would be less enjoyable without it.
    You said post links, so:
    http://ljsellers.com/wordpress
    http://twitter.com/ljsellers
    http://www.facebook.com/ljsellers

    Reply
  5. Bill Cameron

    Facebook irritates me. "Blahblah wants you to take a quiz." "Bozo has given you a bong hit." "Dingo tagged you." It’s a site designed to make it really easy to be annoying to a maximum number of people with a minimum amount of effort. I visit occasionally because there are a few people I want to stay in touch with who don’t seem willing to just send me an email, but otherwise, it’s a time sink designed to be the digital equivalent of a swarm of mosquitos.

    MySpace is simply intolerable. My theory is it was originally intended as a prank, but millions of people didn’t get it.

    Twitter is silly and trivial in many ways, but it’s the one I enjoy the most. If I get busy and don’t have time to check in, no worries. When I do check in, I can absorb a lot of info quickly. Anything which intrigues me I can follow up on. Otherwise, it’s just a chat. When folks I follow get too shrill, I unfollow. I unfollowed a lot of people this week, for example, who posted an excess of political, iPhone, and Palm Pre outrage. A little of that stuff doesn’t bother me, but I find Twitter is to be a terrible place for persuasive argument, so I find that sort of thing tiresome. I also don’t want to see a lot of shameless self-promotion. Once again, a little is fine, but when it’s all you got, well, I will stop listening.

    But, of course, that’s me. I am reactive to words like "social networking", "synergy," and "marketing." I just want to be friendly, silly, and occasionally celebratory.

    Reply
  6. JT Ellison

    I never liked MySpace – it always felt a little creepy to me. I used to enjoy Facebook, but as the ridiculous apps began taking over, and each day I was faced with 100 suggestions that I join this group, drink this beer, accept this flower, I got over it rather quickly. I do like that we can put photos up, and I have a nice base of people there who are very cool, and I’ve reconnected with friends from elementary school through high school. Surprisingly, not many of my college friends are on it.

    But Twitter – Twitter is my thing. You can follow me here

    http://twitter.com/thrillerchick

    Yes, you saw that right. Thrillerchick. Not JT Ellison. I wanted SOMETHING that was really me. All my social networking, actually everything I do online, is under my pseudonym. Which is great, but also sometimes limiting. I express more of the real me on Twitter. I talk about my other passions (yes, I do have interests outside of books) I have a blast on Twitter. I get mad, I feel joy. I get all my news that way – I’ve killed several google reader bookmarks because I can get it all from Twitter.

    The thing people don’t get about Twitter is you’re not supposed to be listing every move you make. You need to find the value add, something that will give your followers something fun or meaty or inspiring or silly, but it isn’t about YOU. It’s about what you GIVE, and give back, to the community. People who aren’t involved are sometimes mislead about what Twitter really is meant to do.

    Don’t you think, Toni? I think you’re one of the best at this, BTW.

    Reply
  7. toni mcgee causey

    Thanks, JT! I like Twitter best for the same reasons–it’s short, it’s easy. It’s like walking up to the bar at at party. Nobody expects you to know everything that was just said, or backtrack the past two hours. I can pick up the thread of any conversations pretty easily. If something was worth checking out, chances are someone will have re-tweeted it, and I can catch it. Plus, I like to bring in things for conversation. It’s also one of those, "bring the fun with you," sort of things–don’t always post super serious stuff, but don’t always post the inane, either. Be a good conversational partner. And don’t take anything too seriously.

    C. 😉

    Bill, yeah, I did a myspace page (for the book, in the character’s name), and I kinda hated the page right off the bat. I met some very cool people over there, but I would generally forget I even had a page for weeks on end.

    I don’t do all of the Facebook applications. I appreciate that people want to include me and some of it is funny, but it got to the point where, when I opened it up, I was spending an hour answering application requests instead of just reading and catching up on what friends were doing. I’ve made myself a "no application" policy, or else I’d miss out on what’s really important, which is the people there.

    L.J., wow — you do a lot. I don’t know that I could keep up with that much.

    R.J. I haven’t split off a personal facebook from a professional one, yet. Now that my mom and a bunch of my relatives have discovered it and are sharing family photos, I might have to do that, if only to keep the hideous photographic evidence in check. 😉

    billie, with all that you already do, I think I would be shocked if you were on any of the sites. I don’t think it’d be easy to twitter from horseback. 😉 And I believe if I had horses here, I would so be outta this house most of the time, it’d probably be a miracle the writing even got done.

    Rhian — so you leave tabs open? I am having to do that, too, since Tweetdeck not only doesn’t allow me to comment on others’ status reports, I realized in the writing of this blog (by keeping both open), that it often does not include everyone in its updates. I don’t know if it’s a volume issue or what, but I was pretty surprised at who all I was missing when I left facebook open in a tab instead of relying on Tweetdeck.

    Reply
  8. Louise Ure

    God, I feel like I’ve walked into a class in advanced Mandarin and I’m still in the Chinese 101 course. I don’t use any of the three, in fact I had to ask JT to post the Twitter message about my Nero nomination last week.

    On the other hand, I’m have been thrilled to know that so much of the information coming out of Iran about the elections on Friday came from Twitter and Facebook posters. If that’s the bare minimum it can do, it’s fine with me.

    Reply
  9. Allison Brennan

    I haven’t quite gotten the hang of Twitter. I post my blog links and when I’m at a signing or where I’ll be, but I don’t know how to do that # thing or the @ thing and I missed Rocki’s class on this because I was, well, on a writing deadline.

    I love facebook. I’ve found many of my old friends. Now most of these re-acquaintances are short-lived two day catching up sessions, but there have been a couple people I’ve been chatting with where it was like picking up where we left off in high school and that has been GREAT fun. Facebook is MySpace for grown-ups and professionals.

    MySpace — love/hate relationship. It’s far more complicated to get around than Facebook. I like the simplicity of facebook, I like the ease of finding people, I like the status reports and the ability to easily communicate with people. MySpace seems far more complicated and cluttered. BUT there are some people, particularly my younger (under 25) readers who only use MySpace.

    I’ve been on the internet since 93 or 94 as well. I was one of the first staffers in the legislature who had internet assess and email. I learned basic html coding, but I never journelled … though in 95 my husband and I put up a basic web page that we kept updated until about 98 or 99. Primarily our favorite quotes and pics of the kids, but there’s too many weirdos out there so I don’t post pics of my kids. My older daughter I have on occasion because of her activities (basketball, choir, etc.) but usually I refrain.

    Anyway, I need to learn more, but I don’t want to invest the time. I’ve heard some authors and celebrities have people who tweet for them on all platforms, but I can’t do that. I don’t even let my mom answer my emails . . . I have to respond to everyone personally, it’s a quirk, I know, and that’s why I’m behind . . .

    Okay, off to church then a basketball tournament. We’re 4 for 5 in the tourney so wish us luck!!!

    Reply
  10. Qwill

    1) I Twitter and use Facebook sporadically. You’ve already got my links. 🙂

    2) I think that I prefer Twitter. It’s short and to the point. Concise is nice.

    3) I open Twitter and Facebook in their own browser windows, but I don’t check them that often.

    4) I tend to use them sparingly since I’m busy, but they have helped with a couple of things professional. I do think that I need to open a separate professional Twitter account though so I can have personal and professional Tweets.

    5) I’d like to aggregate all the things that I have to keep an eye, with color coding. E.g., tweets in blue, FB in green, email in red or whatever color scheme I choose. I’d like to be able to respond to them right from the interface as well.

    Reply
  11. CJ

    Hi. My name is CJ, and I’m a netaholic.

    I’ve been sending messages via computer for a very long time (I think Carter was the president…maybe Ford), so I’ve seen lots of stuff come and fade. Little ever seems to actually disappear, though. Some has been really silly, some has been pretty nifty.

    Yep, I’m on Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace; plus I built and post more or less daily on my own blog. Of the social networking sites, I like Facebook for keeping up with the lives of my friends. Of the three it’s the most like a small town — at least as long as you limit your friends list to people you actually know. It also lets you fine-tune permissions so that you can filter what you see and who sees how much of your stuff.

    MySpace I use so I can keep in touch with the people who won’t do Facebook. MySpace tends to be more private, I find, unless someone is a blogger…and most aren’t. Twitter…I still can’t explain Twitter.

    The first time I tried tweeting, I was like most people who try it and don’t return: WTF? But, seeing that it was in the consciousness, I gave it a second chance. I "got" it. As I said, I’m still not sure what I "got", but I do know that I’m having fun listening over the fences and sometimes learning a lot, too. TweetDeck has made the experience a lot easier. It is really amazing what can be said in what are essentially text messages. Sure, some is nothing but the banality of "I’m going to the store for milk" (too many of those and I unfollow), but others are profound, hi-larious, or provide a link to something more.

    Being one of those people who finds comfort being out in the middle of nowhere, I find that social networking offers both intimacy and insulation. As long as you can learn to ignore the noise, these sites (and the ones yet to come) have done one of the greatest goods in history: its lets us, pretty much all of us who want to, know that we aren’t alone and we are so much more alike than we are different.

    Plus, it’s fun.

    Reply
  12. Chris Hamilton

    1) Twitter — @ChristheAuthor
    Facebook — http://www.facebook.com/ChrisAHamilton
    MySpace — No. Never. Not even if you tortured me.
    Also, I’m on LinkedIn — http://www.linkedin.com/pub/chris-hamilton/0/b57/5b6

    2) I don’t view them as separate, but as part of the same effort. I use Facebook and Twitter both to market the Florida Writers Conference (you should go, it will be fantastic) and keep up with people. If blogging and Facebook are bricks, I view Twitter as the mortar. But I also use it to connect with people.

    3) For Facebook it’s the browser unless I upload pics from my phone. For Twitter,it’s Tweetdeck, which I prefer over Thwirl.

    4) If I get laid off later this year, these sites will be a key part of my effort to remedy that. Also, when I get published (later, sometime), I will use them all to market the hell out of my book. (You should buy it when the time comes, it will be fantastic.

    5) I would love the ability to pro-actively send a not to everyone related to me that I’m not on Facebook for mob wars, food fights, or throwing virtual water balloons. I’m glad you enjoy that, but it’s not for me. Please don’t take offense. And if you do take offense, please do it over there. Out of earshot.

    Reply
  13. Pari

    gaaaaaaaaa

    Toni,
    I feel so out of place with this one. I know I could learn to use these sites/applications and that might benefit me, but I haven’t found the time or inclination to do it yet. I do have a MySpace page that someone else made for me. I check it rarely. Same with my CrimeSpace page on Ning.

    Facebook has some security flaws that make me nervous. Almost every major computer geek I know doesn’t like it. So . . . I hesitate to sign up though I know it’d be easy to use.

    Stupid question about Twitter: Do you need a telephone to use it? (See? I’m really, really dumb when it comes to these things).

    I don’t have an ideal other than if I could use one of them and have it post to everything else, I’d be such a happy camper.

    Reply
  14. Mary-Frances Makichen

    Hey Toni,
    As you already know I like twitter. Right now it’s where a lot of great conversations take place about publishing, especially digital publishing. There are a surprising number of agents, editors, blog book reviewers and writers on twitter. You get a lot of interesting perspective from all sides.

    For me the key to twitter is the interaction. Sure you can tweet links to your latest blog post but if that’s all you do I think it gets pretty boring for the people following you.

    Twitter, like Facebook and Myspace, is just a communications tool. You have to find the tool that works best for you. I bet in 3 years we’ll all be taking about the next new thing.

    Why do I think writers should consider using twitter? Last night I was looking for a new romantic suspense book to buy through the magic of the Kindle’s one click instant gratification. I read a lot and so I’ve usually read most everything people suggest. Last night I asked if anyone had any good recommendations for me. Within seconds I had three people send me suggestions. Toni was one of them. She suggested Tara Janzen to me and within moments I had downloaded a sample of Ms. Janzen’s books and then bought one. In this case one writer helped sell another writer’s books. I so appreciated Toni’s recommendation that I also went and looked to see if there were any of her books that I hadn’t read yet!

    Thanks Toni!

    Reply
  15. pooks

    It’s easy to hide anything–quizzes, apps, etc.– on facebook you don’t want to see, and I do that all the time. You can even hide updates from people you don’t want to read.

    But I like that a conversation can start and continue, and it can go in depth.

    Twitter is absolute chaos.

    Reply
  16. Fran

    Back when MySpace was what there was, I needed my teenager to help me set it up. I don’t use it much any more. Still, several people I know blog on MySpace, and I like to occasionally comment, so I keep it up. Besides, I was able to customize the background, which I liked.

    I got dragged into Facebook to stay in touch with a friend in Korea, and I’ve since found several people I’ve lost touch wtih and I’m trying to keep Seattle Mystery Bookshop’s Facebook presence alive, since it’s turning into quite the marketing tool. I’ve got to actively put more time into it, though, and a business site is different from a personal one.

    http://www.facebook.com/business/Seattle-WA/Seattle-Mystery-Bookshop/
    http://www.facebook.com/people/Fran-Fuller/

    I just ignore the various pokes and gifts and apps like that. *blush* I do like some of the quizzes, though.

    I’ve only just started twittering — franwatson — and the jury’s stil out on that. If I follow too many people, it’s a time sink and I’m overwhelmed. But the 140 characters makes it easy to post and easy to read.

    My boss hates the whole social networking concept, but he’s grudgingly coming to accept that it’s another facet in marketing, along with blogging, which he resisted for the shop but which he has come to embrace.

    I know that social networks do help build readerships, though. A lady stopped by the shop and enthused that she’s coming to see one of our authors because he "friended" her on Facebook and she’s looking forward to meeting him.

    Reply
  17. Pammy D

    Tx for the good post, Toni.

    Facebook is fun for social networking and photos.

    I started the Twitter thing last week for giving people Anti-Aging self help bodywork tips. (I’ve been a Chiropractor for 25 years – I give my clients easy homework all the time.) Will probably blog about it in the future, but right now twitter makes me keep it simple. I’m tweeting on carpal tunnel tips today. Hmm.

    twitter.com/DocPammyDC

    I want to get off Myspace. I never post there anyhow.

    And then there’s this thing called…. the outside world!

    Reply
  18. billie

    Lately, Toni, it’s so hot and humid there hasn’t been much horseback going on! I’m not sure Twitter is a good place to whine about sweating and my ongoing war against stable flies!

    People were texting/emailing from phones like mad at my daughter’s recent horse show. I had my hands full with the 12-year old redhead and the painted pony!

    Reply
  19. toni mcgee causey

    Louise… 😉 Yeah, I feel like that a lot of days, too.

    Allison, I agree about MySpace… just doesn’t seem as user friendly. I don’t think I’ve updated my page over there in… er… months. damn. I’m gonna have to go brave the blinky lights again. (I really hate those ads with the blinky lights.)

    Qwill, I love that color coded idea–that would make Tweetdeck even better. If they’d do that, allow me to comment on friends’ status and give me a column for my email, I would love them forever. (well, at least for a few months)

    CJ–you’re one of the ones I noticed doing really well at the facebook thing, so you were my internal model. 😉

    Chris, I would love that pro-active feature about the apps as well. Every once-in-a-while, I’ll participate in something, but most of the time, I’d rather just check on what people are actually doing, following along with their lives. That said, I can see a lot of people having a lot of fun with them, so that’s cool. I’m such a live and let live person. There are only two things that will blatantly annoy me and that’s someone being an asshole but thinking they’re being funny and someone who only promotes their stuff instead of commenting on others’ stuff and interacting. (I know we all get guilty of the latter when we’re busy. I’m talking pure spam.) Oh, and the porn followers. They’ll get an automatic delete.

    Pari, it’s not a dumb question–seriously. You’re just unfamiliar with it and none of us can be familiar with everything out there. Twitter can be done via your computer (twitter.com) or your phone, if you have the kind of phone that can text or do apps. (Um, I may be showing my ignorance here… folks? can you twitter if you don’t have the app on the phone?)

    Anyway, you sign up at twitter.com and have a user name. Then you choose who to follow (which means, you’ll see their texts and only their texts). Sometimes, people feel Twitter is a popularity contests, and while it can be that, the *real* value of Twitter is in who you follow. And I don’t mean VIPs as much as I just mean interesting people. I follow a mix of people who have posted some very interesting things about the publishing industry, but I also follow people who are passionate on other subjects or just actively informed about the world. There’s one twitterer I follow because she pulls up great links to articles I might not have ever seen (robiliberal, I think is her name on there). If you go to the website booksquare.com, they have an informercial kind of video that gives some insight to twitter. (Sure, they’re advertising for a class, but booksquare.com is a great site.)

    I think the key to twitter is to use it for a combination of fun conversation (that mid-day coffee break type of thing), as well as informational (something to talk about other than the tofu someone had for lunch).

    Reply
  20. toni mcgee causey

    I just wanted to post that I think Mary-Frances is one of the best at the twitter thing. Really good combination of links-to-conversation ratio, always fun to read. (go follow her)

    But yeah, that was fun. (MF wasn’t kidding when she said she’s read everything–I had three recommendations for light romantic suspense, and she’d read two of the series! Girl after my own heart.)

    Pam–I think you’re doing great. Pam’s got a lot of really helpful tips, plus she funny.

    pooks, I think I am surprised most by you not liking twitter as much. (I have known pooks 15 or so years.) I don’t mind jumping into the mid-stream of discussions (and I feel free to leave when I need to.) But I can see how it can be chaotic.

    Fran, I think twitter and facebook are a musts–especially for the independent bookstores right now. As Mary-Frances said above, there is a ton of discussion on twitter about digital publishing, as well as book recommendations. Last week I saw where Borders gave an author a coupon for a discount on her book that she could re-tweet. I don’t know how much the discount was, but I do know that tweet got picked up by a bunch of us and re-tweeted out to others (I’d read and enjoyed the hell out of the book–it’s a paranormal.) Y’all specialize in mystery/thriller and I’d love to pick up some information for what you’re doing and retweet it. Get the word out about signings or bookstore specials. 😉

    billie–LOL. yeah, that is one of the downsides of the online world, and I think it’s a big one. I’d briefly worked for a sociology dept. in college and my masters was in philosophy…. so I think it’s very telling that we cannot be IN a moment without feeling the urge to tell everyone else about that moment. It’s sort of fascinating to watch. And last night, I attended a wedding of friends and I cannot tell you how much I had to fight the urge to send out tweets from the wedding, just because they did things differently than I expected. The church was this beautiful building from 1819 and the scrollwork alone was gorgeous. (I kept thinking, TWEETPIC! TWEETPIC! but I refrained and behaved myself.)

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  21. Gretchen Jones

    I twitter quietly and facebook and have a linked in account as well as a blog and a really bad email habit.

    I love twitter as a way to catch blogs that I perhaps wouldn’t otherwise know about. And when I first got my twitter account, selected a couple of people to follow then was immediately followed by a couple of publishing houses I practically blushed. More recently I’ve discovered that it’s somewhat less meaningful. I wonder about people who follow me because of a offhanded remark about hearing polka music and moments later am being followed by someone with polka in their screen name. I also like the fact that I can tweet people I admire (who could probably give a shit). I mostly treat twitter like a data mining tool. I mine for writing news and advice, and the insight of authors and other people in the industry. I’m currently using tweetdeck which I like though the permanent direct messages annoy me. I have facebook column enabled but find it frustrating like you said that you have to engage a browser page and login to actually post.

    Facebook is really something I joined because I was guilted into it by people I’ve known for over twenty years. We’re reliving the 70’s and at times it’s humorous and other times weird. Knowing that I am the bog of stench from Labrynth or James T Kirk fulfills my need for foolishness when I am avoiding some writing task. I never impose on any friends to complete a similar quiz. They’re big kids and can decide for themselves. I only poke those people I truly want to annoy.

    Linked in I keep focused on networking for my day job though there is a reference there about my website and blog because I felt compelled to complete my profile. As an IT professional on a consulting contract, I never know when I’ll need to get the word out that I need another job.

    E-mail is where I live. I manage all writing critique work via e-mail and I use it at my day job to track the tasks I’ve done during the week and produce my task reports. I prefer it so much that I have a two minute voice mail message on my phone so that people will forget why they called me and hang up before leaving a message. This technique works remarkably well. Ninety percent of the time I need an e-mail with screen prints in order to help the users I support, so why they call I just don’t know. I’m just going to tell them to send me an e-mail.

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  22. Sylvia

    Gosh…where to start. Online before there was ‘a web’ with a pretty graphical interface and a cool tool to get around called a browser. Telnet baby, telnet. Command lines. Yeah.

    1) Yes, I Twitter but mainly for my job since I get paid to manage online community & social networks. By the time I want to tweet for myself, this bird is too tired. I do have a Facebook account, but mainly use it as my admin account to company pages. MySpace – um, no. I have an account there but left it years ago.

    2) Twitter is definitely more preferred since I deal in news/updates and short blasts. And I like that Facebook can be updated via Twitter making it a 2-for-1 activity.

    3) Right on Twitter. Co-tweet is great if you have to organize a team of people to work a single Twitter account. Twhirl, Tweetdeck, interesting but so far hasn’t saved me any time.

    4) Great in my career since it’s an extension of what I’ve been doing online already. Great way to help readers interact and follow along the lives of execs, writers and products. My 9y.o. opened a Twitter account this morning. Uh Oh.

    5) Ummm, if I told you, I’d have to kill you. 🙂 But I’ll be happy to share with my VC!

    Best Twitter story… on a plane Friday from LAX to SFO and some raging moron gets on the plane yelling into the cell phone "well, I can put it on Twitter (emphasized), just tell me what he wants me to say. I mean I can tweet it as I’m on Twitter…." For a minute he stood there trying to impress everyone on the plane that he’s on Twitter. The woman next to me was rolling her eyes until I couldn’t stand it anymore and tugged on his sleeve –

    "dude, we all know what Twitter is… you simply aren’t that special."

    He shut up and hung up. Thankfully he walked to the back of the plane and sat, hopefully quiet, and twittering.

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  23. Lois

    Thanks for explaining re-tweets. Had seen a lot of them on Facebook but hadn’t a clue what they were. I started on Facebook a few years ago as a way to see what my high-school son was doing. I now have several groups on there – family, crime fiction community, librarians, and a segment of the Jewish community. The librarian group was helpful last year when I was unemployed.

    Not interested in Myspace, although it seems the only place to see what some local musicians are doing.

    Scared to start folowing anyone on Twitter, as it would quickly become a huge time-suck. Although a year ago during the draft for the new Women’s Professional Soccer league, I got their messages forwarded to my phone as I was busy that day, and I still have them coming 🙂

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  24. Tamar

    I’m growing to like Twitter more these days. I do like the hashtag conversations, though they rapidly get too huge too fast for me to follow without devoting most of my day. I like that people can have these public multiperson conversations in short bursts. I like the links. I’m reading this week’s Time article on Twitter (very positive) and it’s tilting me more toward the pro column. I really hate a few things about it, though, like: no threading conversations. No ability to say "I want to read feeds from these people all the time but feeds from these folk only when I feel like" (usually ones I follow for news, not personal connection, something that’s Twitter-specific). And I HATE the random follows that nearly inevitably come in the wake of my tweets.

    I love Facebook. The quizzes can get real old, I admit. I entirely ignore when people throw sheep at me or give me Chanukkah menorahs, hearts, or little green monsters from Mars, or invite me to join some cause or other. But I love that I can choose who sees my status updates, photos, etc. (To be honest, I haven’t yet used the screening feature, but I love that it’s there.) That it’s not entirely public even when I show them to everyone, only to those I’ve accepted as FB friends. This allows me to have a degree more freedom in what I say. I love that it’s an all-in-one program, allowing for status posts, longer notes, photos, videos, links, and chat (and nowyou can specify who sees you available for chatting too, yay!).

    I also love the comments threads, and how people can talk to each other and to me, often in a wonderfully strange juxtaposition of different parts of my life. I love that I’ve gotten back in touch with numerous people from my past, and even though we don’t necessarily exchange long emails back and forth (who has time???), we can now comment in little bite sized pieces on particular bits from each other’s lives. Which is in a way a more truly integrated being-back-in-touch.

    It’s made my offline life richer, too, because (for one example) I’ve gotten back in touch w/ someone from high school who, it turns out, lives half a mile from me. And now we and our families are friends. I think that’s what I love more than anything — Facebook has allowed old friends from all parts of my life to find me and stay in easy communication: looking at pictures of each other’s lives, seeing what interests us via links we post, reading status updates from the mundane to the humorous to the dramatic. Far more than Twitter, it makes me feel like my town, my tribe, my community, is right there/here. Love that.

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  25. Gayle Carline

    I have a Twitter, Facebook and MySpace account, but I only really use Twitter and Facebook. I can’t get my MySpace page to look right – it’s either too austere or too chaotic. I maintain a fan page for a friend of mine, Gordon Kirkland, on Facebook, and I twitter a few times a day. They only suck my time if I’m too lazy to actually work. Both have been great ways to tell people about my latest blog (http://gaylecarline.blogspot.com) or my latest column (http://www.gaylecarline.com/ptn_cols.html).

    My main problem with both of these networks is separating the business from the casual. For example, I can take silly quizzes and send drinks, etc. to my friends and have a fun time, ha ha. But do I want to share this information with agents/editors/publishers/big shots who might think I’m not a serious author because I sent a Wet Pissed Cat to my BFF? I could have two different pages, but would I have to have two different names? Ack, it makes my head hurt.

    Oddly enough, Toni, I was just going to blog on this very subject.

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  26. ArkansasCyndi

    Hi Toni! I’m using TweetDeck but I confess I am not faithful and would switch for a better system. Just haven’t found it.

    Have MySpace site but hate it. Don’t ever go there.

    Have two facebook pages. One for Cynthia D’Alb (for my writing buddies) and another one for my personal friends

    And finally – GO HOGS!! BEAT LSU!!

    Reply
  27. Alexandra Sokoloff

    I don’t spend a LOT of time on social networks but I enjoy the brevity of Twitter and Facebook. You can skim the messages and catch some gems, and it’s fun to have someplace to put your more random and surreal thoughts. It really is like dropping in on a huge virtual conference party or something, and you don’t have to stay unless you want to. I like the cutting to the chase aspect.

    I ignore any pokes, or gifts completely, and people who send me updates of every stop on their blog tour go in the "Never ever will I read this person ever in my life" file.

    Never did spend much time with Myspace.

    But look, is there someone who can explain what the point of a Facebook Page is? Everyone says "get one, get one" but WHY? What does that do that your regular account doesn’t? Why not just have friends on your regular page instead of making people sign up as fans?

    http://twitter.com/AlexSokoloff

    http://www.facebook.com/people/Alexandra-Sokoloff/747545470

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Alexandra-Sokoloff/61942917067 (Facebook page, WHATEVER that is…_

    http://www.myspace.com/alexandrasokoloff

    Reply
  28. Evie

    I have been using the internet since the days when using the internet required much more technical ability than Web 2.0 does, and I don’t use Twitter, Myspace, Facebook or any other social networking sites. My online interaction consists almost entirely of blogging, and occasional emailing/chatting. It’s not that I particularly dislike social networking sites, they’re just one of those things like celebrity gossip which other people seem to find interesting and I couldn’t care less about.

    I suppose this must make me an unusual twenty-one year old.

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  29. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Ugh…I used to think I was just a little bit hip, you know, working in the film business and all, but I’ve really just become this cantankerous old dinosaur now. I’ve slipped into Facebook, but I just can’t fall all the way. I still don’t really know what Twitter is. How does one have the time?
    I actually wrote long-hand the other day – I haven’t done that for fifteen years. It was wonderful. I hope I never have to do it again.

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  30. PK the Bookeemonster

    I’ve been on the Internet since before graphics. I started because I wanted to converse with rec.arts.muppets — with people who shared an interest I did. (I found the book people next) I’ve got some social networking pages here and there but right now only do a daily blog. The rest of the time is spent reading. 🙂 I’ve conducted a seminar on how nonprofits can take advantage of the Internet that definitely involves social networking. But few take advantage due to lack of knowledge and time and money to hire someone else to do it and frankly right now don’t accept the value of it. A friend and I hope to start a business soon which will include website and building an online community. As writers, you must, I think, jump into the waters — you don’t know where your audience (of any age) is hanging out and as they say in marketing: it takes multiple touches to reach ’em.

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  31. kit

    Hi Toni…
    I’ld be lost without the Net in general, I live in the boonies,the net keeps me connected…It’s an overall tool for me.
    I started doing author forums, then general interest forums, then a friend convinced me to have a Myspace account…I started using that as blogging space, all over the page (subject matter) on whatever was on my mind, to just get it down, get in the habit of writing….
    …while there, a friend had a twitter account…my first experience with it…..I loved following her and her friends on it…mainly for the way dialogue was written…this was a personal one…with just friends…but I got a real feel for how a convo would sound instead of just imagining it….the ebb and flow..and natural sound..and I thought to myself …WHAT A GREAT TOOL!!!

    then I started a Facebook account…WOW!! I connected with classmates..relatives…and started putting all the people together that I ran into from the other sites.
    So on Facebook mainly…..but I only add people that I know either personally, or have some connection to…so my friends’ list isn’t up to 500…it’s small and manageable to me.
    I also need to keep up with what I will eventually need later on as I persue writing…I compare some of the things we use on the computer to Viagra…..everyone kinda knows about it, realizes it may have some benefits…can have side effects, and it’s like anything new or unfamiliar…takes a little time to wrap their head around and after it’s been around awhile..no-one wants to admit out loud that they never saw the benefits or uses…..and it’s like a foreign country….unfamiliar ground.
    The totally great thing is, I feel….they still have that first amazing* AHA! discovery period* waiting for them….once they get the hang of it….

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  32. ICORP Investigations, Inc.

    My favorite term these days..TIME ERASER..Its exactly what these social networks do to you. It’s impossible to keep up with. And if you can keep up, you have to much free time.

    I’m on MySpace but I hardly use it. I think MySpace is dead as we know it.

    Facebook I tend to look at it a couple times a day. It keeps me interested. However, people who post their high scores with games or just bombard the site with crap I could care less about, can make it difficult to want to go back. But I always do.

    Twitter, I was interested for awhile. Now everyone is on auto pilot so i check maybe once a day.

    Reply
  33. toni mcgee causey

    Rhian, you’d have to download it and open it to see how it works (which will immediately make sense). Basically, it’s a window that you can divide into columns. You choose to show what’s in those columns. For example, column 1 may be your twitter traffic, column 2 could be the replies made directly to you (so that you don’t lose the thread of that part of the conversation). Another column can be used for facebook status updates of friends, and a fourth column could be used for direct messages (private messages sent to you by someone you’re following.)

    Each section updates every few minutes (or faster, depending on how you set it). It’s the social media sites at a glance. Still with some interactivity wishlists that need to be fulfilled, but handy.

    Reply
  34. M.J.

    I’ve got pages everywhere but I’ve found that the more social networking I do the more my writing suffers… I need to get out of the computer as much as I can these days… I’m finding keeping up is taking its toll creatively – dreaming time is disappearing into communicating time and I’ve been able to cut back and I’m much happier and working better. Anything is better for me than being online- taking a walk, going to museums, reading a book on paper, listening to music… I also have a love/hate relationship with my iPhone for the same reason. Used to stand on line in the bank/supermarket/starbucks and stare at people and make up stories… now I pull out the phone and check email that I don’t need to check and find its making me so much less imaginative… so I’m fighting that too.

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  35. chlamydien

    MySpace is simply intolerable. My theory is it was originally intended as a prank, but millions of people didn’t get it.
    Twitter is silly and trivial in many ways, but it’s the one I enjoy the most. If I get busy and don’t have time to check in, no worries.

    Reply

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