For a techie who’s totally into social web design, I have relatively few accounts on “social networking” sites. The main reason I have hesitated is covered by what Joshua Porter calls the Del.icio.us Lesson. In Josh’s words, the lesson is:
personal value precedes network value
I guess that’s why to this day I still haven’t signed up for a MySpace account. I simply have no idea what I would get out of it. I have accounts with a few social networking sites and I’ve noticed that how much I use them more or less directly correlates to what personal value they have to me.
Here are eight social networking sites I have accounts with. Six of them I use enough to have posted links to my profile in my blog footer.
Twitter is probably the application on this list I use most for “social” purposes. For those that don’t know, Twitter is an application that is compatible with all sorts of interfaces (web, email, IM, SMS, RSS, etc.) that essentially lets you get status updates from your contacts. It has been described as “microblogging”, “public IM”, or “public away messages”.
I started using it at SXSW, mostly because Evan & Co. were the darlings of the event. But I quickly started to appreciate the value. Not only can you subscribe to friends, you can also subscribe to industry professionals you enjoy learning from. Their Twitter feeds often contain interesting nuggets of information they don’t publish on their blog. That’s the beauty of it. It’s short (140 characters or less) and quick. You can publish and consume quick thoughts without needing to sift through large blog posts.
The basic personal value I get from Twitter is the ability to post short thoughts of my own without having to dedicate an entire blog post. Beyond that, it lets me keep track of folks who are doing the same.
Flickr is an easy one. The personal value is public sharing of photos. The networking effects allow me to always have the newest photos of my contacts delivered to my RSS feed. It is a simple, beautiful thing.
I’ve written about Last.fm in the past. Last.fm tracks my iTunes music listening habits and creates charts from them. For many people, this would not be enough personal value to make it worthwhile. But for me, it totally is. I love this. I eagerly await my charts every week. It’s like fantasy football for audiophiles.
I’ve actually dipped into the networking side of things, as I documented my befriending of my #1 Last.fm “neighbour” (person in the system with listening habits most similar to yourself). I swear, Last.fm must think I’m a Scot.
Honestly, I’m almost surprised I use LinkedIn. I signed up when a friend wanted to link to me and then I actually started using it when Steve Ganz deployed all those hResumes. Now that Mario Sundar is with them, I’m intrigued.
It requires minimal effort to add contacts, and there are some personal benefits. It is nice to see what old colleagues are up to. In particular, I found out through LinkedIn’s home page that Kate Brigham had joined PatientsLikeMe. That alone was worth the minimal investment. Combing through others’ contacts to find old contacts is also a worthwhile task.
It seems that the possibilities for LinkedIn aren’t even being touched. I mean, right now it is essentially a hyperlinked address book. Things like the new Questions feature are promising. You would think it would have been more prominent in my job search a few months ago. Every once in a while, I see some UX positions listed from my “network”, but everything’s pretty much on the West coast.
That said, I get the feeling that LinkedIn is in it’s infancy and it is going to keep adding more useful functionality.
Ah, the site the Del.icio.us Lesson was named for. Tons of personal value here. I use a lot of different browsers and a couple computers. Saving links to Del.icio.us ensures I’ll have them on whatever machine or browser I happen to be on.
I rarely use the network value, but sometimes it can be interesting. For example, it allows you to see who saves your own posts so you can get a better idea about other sites that they find helpful.
YouTube can have a HUGE personal benefit if you share a lot of your own videos. I’ve only posted a few, so I don’t utilize it quite that much. But I do also use my account to save excellent live performances (like this) that I want to make sure I can easily find later.
And now, here are the two sites not yet in my blog footer—meaning… I simply haven’t found a specific use for them.
It’s all the rage. It seems to be all some people (Kawasaki, for example) can talk about right now. I’ve even signed up. Like, less than a month ago. And let me tell you what—I pretty much have no idea why I should use it. It really is just a collection of the same activities that I do elsewhere. I mean, as a blogger, do I need Facebook?
What is the only thing I’ve really done with Facebook? I’ve added a few apps to my profile. I’ve added the Twitter app, last.fm app, Flickr app (though I can’t get the damn thing to work right)… but I link to all of those profiles from my blog footer, too.
Facebook wants me to update my status. I already do that with Twitter. Worst part is that Facebook wants me to go to the site to update everything… and read everything. Sorry, no RSS. Sorry, but I really don’t go to websites anymore. (Also wish LinkedIn provided updates to your contacts via RSS, for the record.)
Facebook also feels anti-open, anti-standard, etc. For example, I have no idea how I would even link you to my profile. Could it really be “http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=544839151″? They can’t do any better than that? How about Facebook.com/adarowski? No? Why not?
As you can see, I’m underwhelmed. About all it is good for is the groups features (which I don’t even use because there is no RSS… so maybe it’s not all that good) and the last.fm widget rocks if I’m on a machine that doesn’t have my music or the last.fm app installed. As of now, I can only envision using it if it somehow crushes LinkedIn and becomes the #1 site for business networking.
Pownce is a really cool technology that some compare to Twitter. As Brian points out, they should not. I simply haven’t been able to use it for anything because it seems that where it differs from Twitter is that it is great for small working groups. For example, if we didn’t use Skype at work, Pownce would be a great option. But we don’t, so I don’t use it.
I’m not saying it is bad. In fact, it is quite attractive and well done. I just don’t have a use for it yet. If it had beat Twitter to the streets, we’d all be using Pownce. But it didn’t, so it needs that extra use for people to adopt it.
So there you have it.
Those are the social networking apps I use. As you can see, I’m not much for the networking part, go figure. Gimme value immediately and you’ll suck me in.