Sunday, January 10, 2010

Technology and Friends: A Final Note

I seem to find myself in numerous conversations with friends about how much technology is in our lives and to what extent we use technology, particularly social media, to communicate and put ourselves "out there" in the e-world. I have friends who are pretty ready to share just about anything on their blog or Facebook of Twitter and I have other friends who see the whole social media scene as anything from mindless to the near end of privacy. I am somewhere in between, perhaps leaning toward the willing to share a fair amount side, but about to move a bit back to the more private side of the scale in practice--and this after considerable deliberation (and you wondered what I was doing while I wasn't blogging).

I don't have any coherent thesis here, just some random thoughts from where I sit.
  1. I know some feel like online communications is impersonal, but I actually find the ongoing discussion over time online to be quite personal and often in our busy lives allows for connections to be maintained in a more than occasional way. One of Neats' friends once wrote (on Facebook, I note) that she is a better communicator on email than by phone and I thought that was a simple but very good observation that I connected with. There are relationships that I maintain now via email, blog, social media that simply would not happen via phone or in person due to time and space. Does that make them less important than other relationships--perhaps, but I don't tend to think so. I think of them as merely different both in type and in how they are attended to. Bottom line is that I am both happy to have those relationships and with maintaining them primarily on-line--although, I admit, that these are all relationships formed in person and that friendships that evolve only online are just not workable for me (more below).

  2. It seems that everyone has some sort of technology stop-point. For instance, I know a lot of friends and colleagues who use the web and email is a normal part of life, but the jump to social media like Facebook or Twitter is literally a mystery. I feel like I am about to or am hitting that point for me. I am way more happy spending significant time blogging than surfing around Facebook or Twitter (or even on an RSS reader) despite the fact that blogging takes more time and effort--at least for me--both in terms of writing and reading. Stop-point or not, I am going to start trying to spend more time on blogging and less time distracted by other platforms--not that it seems that I have that much time to do any of it.

  3. From a technology standpoint, I have over the last two years done things to centralize my on-line presence and also to syndicate posts on music. The result of that though is that people who would never visit my blog, say, see what I am writing either on my Facebook page or through an aggregater site like Elbows or HypeMachine. Interesting sure (and it seemed efficient), but I don't really write a blog post thinking of the general public or even a casual acquaintance--it is a way to share what I am thinking with those interested enough (read: friends). Consequently, I have not connected the new site to the big music aggreagators and as of this post, I am disconnecting the blog and Facebook (rather than purging my Facebook friend and Twitter followers list--well maybe a little). In other words, this will be my final FB Note.
Bottom line here is that just as in teaching the medium impacts the interaction, but the players and their attitudes toward communication and relationships impact how they will use the media and how effective it will be for those involved. For me I am just not someone who really likes walking into a big room of mainly strangers and chit-chatting with folks I haven't seen before or are likely to see again (or haven't seen in forever and probably won't see in forever again). I am much more of a close-circle of friends and colleague person and someone who prefers that circle to expand slowly and deliberately--and I am quite sure that generally applies to my technology mediated relationships as well.

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