There, I’ve said it. Putting it all together, getting all the interconnections working for you is quite a task. And just when you think you have a handle on it, another app comes along and there you go again, figuring out how to drive it. Combine this with the fact that some people go out of their way to make you feel like a dunce with comments like ‘facebook connect – you said what, you’re not using it – really. Why not? It’s changed my life…’ These are the people that brag about how many facebook friends they have and connections on linkedIn. They go on about the fact they have their blog connected to twitter which in turn is connected to facebook and their linkedIn profile – blah blah blah blah blah blah. You are made to feel some form of social media impotency – and without a nasal delivery solution. Well I’ve had it!

Social media isn’t easy.

I’ve been a keen observer of the phenomena that is social media from the beginning. I’ve been fascinated about the connections my kids have assembled and how these digital friends became living and breathing fiends – real ones. I must admit I am in awe of the girlfriends they’ve amassed (I have 2 teenage boys). And I am very pleased to say these are true friends that are girls.

I remember what it was like when I was a kid trying to ask a girl out. I put a couple of 20 cent pieces in my pocket and headed for the nearest phone box – one was up on my street corner. I had the girl’s number, I placed the 20 into the slot, began dialling, rotary dial of course and hoped that she would pick up. Nope – her Mum did. I couldn’t bare the embarrassment so ‘click’ down went the handset (a bakelite one too – they were heavy). 20 cents down the gurgler – one to go. I tried again with my last coin only to get you know who. Down on my 20’s and down on my luck I headed home – my mission a failure. If only I had facebook.

Now I think facebook is reasonably easy to drive, at least at the base level, but how most of us came to create an account was an act of sheer stealth. One day, there in my in-box arrived an invitation from one of my Uni students asking to become his ‘friend’. I didn’t quite know what to do and fearing that I would offend I accepted. Low and behold it was like I was thrust from the analogue loins of my past world into a new land where everyone wanted to be my ‘friend’, – the digital variety of course. Soon I had invitations to write on people’s wall, then there was this vampire thingy that was chasing me (what did I ever do to it), a petrol head invitation and an infinite array of groups begging me to sign-up. I was very confused, so I stopped there and then. I had to gather my thoughts and figure out whether I wanted to play in this space, and even if I did want to play could I actually figure out how to drive it.

There is this technological barrier to entry that is polarising society. You have to spend the time joining the dots. There are many intimidated by this new form of communication. 

Watch people’s faces at your next dinner party when you pop the question ‘who’s on facebook?’ You may see sweat form on the brow, pupils will dilate and faces may actually tighten if you look closely enough. As an aside, facebook is this era’s dinner party saviour – the card you pull when the conversation is tanking and you need to throw your event a life-line. In the 80’s the dinner party saviour was ‘who likes Wham?’ The 90’s line was ‘who thinks that the Bay Watch plot lines have recently become somewhat simplistic?’ Today it’s facebook.

People may reject playing in the social media space for a variety of reasons but for a significant number and for those in an older demographic, male in particular, climbing on board is an effort. Paradoxically, according to Telstra, 70% of Mums use facebook but of those 47% use it to keep tabs on their kids. I love that statistic.

I’ve banged on about facebook and you’ve probably ascertained that while it isn’t easy to drive the device to its fullest extent, it does have mass appeal.

But what of the next layer of social media tools such as delicious, digg, newsvine, kwoff, fark (Graham Kennedy would be proud) and a host of others. Have you heard of them? Do you know what they do?

I’ll give you an example of this technological barrier to entry I’ve been referring to. Now I generally have a go at most technological things. I’m not a zealot, but I am on a crusade to learn as much as I can in this new media space. So I decided to learn about delicious (http://delicious.com/). At a glance it appeared to provide some neat value. Delicious is your bookmarks or favourites in the sky; it stores your favourites on a web site that you can access from any browser, as they say, anywhere in the world. This is what’s referred to as cloud technology. Instead of content residing on your own pc, it resides in the clouds, on a server you can access through the net.

I was doing some research on online advertising so for the purposes of this assignment I thought I would load all of my bookmarks on delicious. I created an account and ticked the box that said ‘I agree to the terms and conditions’. This is where I did make a mistake. Does anyone actually ever read the T&C’s? Or is this a boy thing like not reading instructions on the use of domestic appliances?

Well within 24 hours of signing up and loading my bookmarks on delicious I received an email stating that ‘Nigel is following you on delicious’. I do know Nigel as it turns out but I had no idea my bookmarks was being shared. I thought ‘of course, now I get it – delicious is a social media variant, a twist on a theme that allows you to play at another level of social media. It’s not all about facebook but it still is about sharing.’ At first I was alarmed but then quite chuffed. Nigel thought enough of my new media activities to follow me. Nice bit of ego stroking here.

I will in future articles write in more detail about delicious, digg, newsvine, kwoff, fark and other tools. They do serve some very worthwhile purposes but make sure you read the T&C’s.

My advice for anyone on the edge of having a social media go and that doesn’t want to play with facebook, then go to your favourite newspaper site and comment on an article. You will soon get into the swing of commenting on blogs which is a very social media thing to do. In some instances the site will keep you updated on other comments made on the same news article. From there you can elect to upload the article in a variety of sites such as newsvine or digg. You’ll very quickly get a feel for how this new world hangs together.

And how do you get all your devices talking to each other, well as I said it isn’t easy.

 

But let’s keep in touch and I will reveal more as we journey through this new space together.

socialmedia

 

Footnote:

Here are the links and some description on these social media tools.

Digg.com – Originally a technology site, Digg has now branched out into a wider range of topics, including entertainment and business. Click the Digg button at the foot of an article to add the story and other community users will then “digg”, or rate, your selection. The more people like your story, the higher up the digg home page it will go. Learn more about digg.com

del.icio.us – One of the most popular social bookmark websites. Dei.icio.us is a way of storing all your favourite web-pages and then sharing then with the other users of the del.icio.us service. Once you have added your page you can also add your own keywords, or tags, making the content of the page easier to find for all the other users. Learn more about del.icio.us

Fark – Fark is a news aggregator and an edited social networking news site that allows users to comment on a daily batch of news articles and other items from various websites. Learn more about Fark

NewsVine – NewsVine is one of the leading online news communities, letting you decide which stories are important. NewsVines users can write their own articles, seed articles (which is what you’ll be doing by adding in links to our stories) or comment on existing articles on the site. With NewsVine you get to be editor of your own news by deciding which stories really matter, and your opinions will alter the overall ranking of the stories on the site. Read more about NewsVine

Kwoff – A new Australian social media site that allows you to share links and have your content voted onto the front page. It’s like Digg, but much less tech-focused. Read more about Kwoff.

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