Sunday, July 27, 2008

Too many social networks?

Well, I have to keep my Linkedin, Facebook, ResearchGate, Plaxo, etc, networks updated and fresh. It is not working. I am not taking good care of any of them. They deterioate over time and finally I leave them. The addition of new forms of social networks for general and specific purposes is still growing fast. Where should I put my time and for what? Or is it time to leave them all and just stay in touch with friends and colleagues via email?


Arvind said...

what does email give you? a consistent endpoint/touch point for others to reach you? also, it doesnt require everyone you want to communicate with to be on the same network, but just have an email id. but email does not offer richer interactions. So, you are fine with a lesser quality of interaction because the others are making it too complex and hard?
sorry that i am posing many questions, but I am working on something that tries to be very open about the way people participate - a network that can aid these interactions but also not have the problems you mentioned.

Erik Stolterman said...

Hi Arvind

Good to hear from you!
Yes, I agree that email is not really interactive, and that many of the network applications are more interactive and dynamic in many ways. The difference is that I have one email (even though I use several addresses) but they all come into the same application. With all the networks I have to "go to them" add, edit and work with them separately. It is just a matter of time and effort :-)

Lynn said...

Two thoughts:
1.) Personally, when I utilize a social network (SN) it’s because I want to learn more about someone. Being that you’re an academic, people (i.e. students) are probably adding you to see a more personal biography and possible do a little social-recon.

2.) I don’t think there are too many social networks, because each has a different purpose mySpace – music, facebook – social, linkedin – professional development. I would agree that only having one destination to go to, to see what’s happening in my online social scenes, would be preferred. Just like hooking up multiple emails to one source for an application is preferred.

Right now, I’m using digsby for my IM software, but it also allows me to stay connect with some of my social networks: Twitter, Facebook, and mySpace. Digsby is limited in only allowing those three social networks. I can see more software like digsby, which in itself, does nothing, except to connect you to other online applications/services.

Heather Wiltse said...

This sounds like the issue that the developments in the 'social web' arena are trying to address. The basic idea of the social web is that you should be able to share your data among different sites, so if you update your info in one place it also trickles over to the others as well. There is an interesting web tv series of panel discussions on this topic here:

One of the benefits of email is that it is a universal protocol, so you really don't care of your contacts use Gmail, Hotmail, university webmail, or whatever. It will be interesting to see how close we get to that in the area of social networks.

Interestingly, the one topic that seems to be conspicuously absent in these discussions is that of identity management. As Lynn mentioned, each service has a different purpose. So it seems that if social information will be flowing between services, what we still need is some type of 'dam' mechanism to divert only the info we want..

Erik Stolterman said...

Hi Lynn and Heather

Thanks for your comments. I think you are right. Maybe it is not the number of networks but a question of interaction design. I agree that the solution for email is a possible one, but at the same time to me part of the benefit and uniqueness with each network is their individual design, functionality and appearance. Well, we'll see what happens. One solution that I have seen more of is to leave all networks :-)


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