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Thoughts on Social Media

I’m not sure if it was fate or f8 (pronounced the same) that brought my interest into creating a post pertaining to social media but nevertheless, I’m here and proud of it.

The last few years, the buzz terms in the internet mainstream world have been centered around the aspect of each person on the web interacting socially thanks to new products and services. ¬†We’ve all heard of social media this and that, and I know a few of us are getting sick and tired of it (but not as much as the term iPhone killer). ¬†However, each day it seems that the aspect of the social mediasphere comes out to help or hurt us.

Let’s take a look at is out there (and of course do so in alphabetical order).

Social Media Description/Thoughts
Blippy Use?: NO

It’s a shame that this is the first on our alphabetical journey because when I first describe it to people the reaction explains where most think it is headed. According to the website, Blippy is “a fun and easy way to see and discuss what everyone is buying.” That basically translate to a service that syncs with your credit cards and shares with your friends any and all of the purchases that you are making.

Sure, there are controls to allow one to moderate what purchases are shared, but essentially the concept is over sharing one’s pride in the capitalistic society. I can see why businesses would want people to use the system because there is big money in providing consumers with a close relationship in the items people want to purchase and people they know that purchase it. Think about it. Aren’t you more likely to buy a product that one of your friends as purchased because you have real feedback you can trust on if the money was well spent?

Since this is the latest social media site (started in December of 2009), we will just have to see if it catches on, even though I know I’m just not that interested in it.

Digg Use?: PUSH

Back during my days in college, Digg (that’s D-i-g-g.com) was my premier site for receiving my news of all flavors. I participated in its social aspect by “digging” stories in order to inform the masses of the particular interest in the story. Wait, I’ve gone too far ahead of myself. Back up.

Digg was created by Kevin Rose as a social news website. The basic idea is that the masses now have the power to dictate what stories should be of interest. Everyone’s been there. You go to your favorite news site (CNN, BBC, and yes even FoxNews for some) but the stories that you see presented are not what you find important or interesting. Digg provides you the ability to submit stories from across the web and other users can “digg” the story in order to move it to the front page for more people to see it. The more diggs a story receives, the more popular it is. Each story can also be commented on from Digg as opposed to going to the story’s source.

However, outside of college I just don’t have time to participate in the “digg” process as I once could. I still go to digg, but only to view the first view pages of content or the top diggs of the day. And sometimes, I’m even drawn back to leave a comment here or there just because I can.

Facebook Use?: YES

Wow, where do I begin on this one? Facebook is one of the fastest growing websites out there, but it is also one that I see becoming the most flawed and dangerous.

We all enjoy using Facebook as a way to reconnect and catch up on all of our friends, but how many people really stop to think about all of the information we are providing to it. Its current and potential track record of not giving a crap about the information they are storing or its potential for security issues is shocking. The most recent issue that allowed one to see the personal chats and other information of anyone’s friends was met with a “oops” from the website instead of “we will make sure this never happens again.”

I have many friends that are looking to take down their pages which is their choice. I don’t know if I am going to go that far because I can really connect to so many people so quickly. However, I will be looking to minimize the data that I provide to them in order to protect myself and identity online. Maybe their policies and thoughts on security/privacy will change in the future so that we can all be more comfortable in using a site that started with a great idea.

Foursquare Use?: YES

I originally was against the idea of social media being used to track my movements. Then I changed my mind about the whole thing. Was it the aspect of my new smartphone or just becoming more aware of how something like Foursquare worked? Who knows! At least I do know that Foursquare is just as addicting as it was to play four square with my roommates back in college.

Foursquare allows one to “checkin” to locations while out and about. I was drawn to this application with my recent move to San Francisco, which is a major user of the application. Having more people in my general vicinity using it really pushes me to get out and learn the city’s ins and outs. I also control when I want to “checkin” and I can easily track where I have been as well as what places I want to return for business.

Overall though, the most addicting part of Foursquare is the ability to earn badges. I often feel like I’m a Boy Scout again, except this time I’m more interested. The badges can be humorous or based on the regular tasks one might perform (such as riding the BART). 10 badges and 4 mayorships and I’m craving more and more and more.

Linkedin Use?: MAYBE

Ah yes, Linkedin. For those not in the know, Linkedin is the facebook of the business world. Instead of “private” (yes I know that is a relative term after my comments above), it is “public”. It is almost the aspect of posting your resume and network contacts to others online. Your network of “friends” is your network of colleagues.

I have previously pushed to not join another online system, but my work has encouraged it for recruitment purposes. Maybe it isn’t a terrible idea to join so that I can connect others professionally as opposed to just socially. Anyone else have thoughts here, besides “yeah join”? So far I’d say Linkedin is working out well because any news stories I hear about it are few and far between which means it is either on its way out (which I doubt) or it is doing something right and people don’t have anything to complain about.

Twitter Use?: NO

Here it is. If Facebook is the king of social media, Twitter is the queen or co-king. Since its inception, I have had a hatred for Twitter and its community. I didn’t understand the point of sharing public 144 character messages to the world. Do I really want to know one’s bowel movements cycle? Do I care about the sudden idiotic thoughts that enter one’s mind? I certainly do not.

However, as I become more aware of the service’s capabilities, my feelings towards Twitter are changing. In the best example I can give, recently there was a virus issue that affected many across the US and rendered many computers useless for several hours. In order to find out how widespread the issue was, I turned to a recent update by Google where you can search the real time tweets. That day, I searched for “virus” and saw that the issue was not centered to just me, but many locations across the US (Clemson, Chicago, Kentucky, etc.). I continued following the google search and found that many were leading me to why the error was occurring thanks to McAfee’s screw up in an update. Twitter in this scenario worked perfectly for a global messaging system. Just think of its uses during disasters or other real time tracking (epidemics, political situations, etc.). I’ve also used it to find out updates regarding the Android 2.1 update for my HTC Eris.

Now this does not mean I’m going to go out and join, but at least my mood when I hear other’s make references to it doesn’t result to pure hatred. And I will still wait with anticipation for my twitter based idea to be implemented.

*YES => I am a member of the social club
*NO => I am not a member of the social club
*PUSH => I am a member but the account stays idle
*MAYBE => I am not currently a member but the status of our relationship could change

So what’s next? Well if I had to guess it would follow the movement of turning the tv into the next social revolution. With TV’s moving to integrating internet capabilities, one could interact with other viewers of a TV show in real time and also encourage others to check out a new show or upcoming episode.

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