Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Hump Day Hmm 2/6/08 - Ethics and Mores of Social Media and Social Networking

Hump Day Hmm
Here's my first Hump Day Hmm post. I'm not one to be so serious, but since I commented twice on Julie's Twitter Do or Don't post, I should really put in my two cents. Here's Julie's preface on the topic:
Two Square Meals was inspired by my Twitter Do or Don't post and suggested for next week (2-6): What are the ethics and mores of social media and social networking? (If you don't think you use social media or networking, think again. You are online, you use it or it uses you, or both. Bloggers you read review products, or you do that yourself. There is an interchange and exchange of linking, passing along of awards, "digging" or "skirting" posts, trading back and forth of comments, community building, and so forth. What is this online space for you? How do you use it? What do you expect of it, in all realms? What behavior---business or personal--crosses a line in your opinion? What are the lines? Write honestly about what this space is for you and what you believe the ethics and mores are.)
As many of you know, I am a bit of an internet addict, especially when it comes to Web 2.0. Just check out the list 0' links in the "More About Me" on the left side of the blog. And that is the pared down list as it was getting too long. Not to mention that I recently joined last.fm, Mahalo and sk*rt.

Twitter is a phenomenon because it has such a simple premise yet has caught on like wildfire. Write up to 140 characters about what you are doing. Within minutes of posting my first tweet, people started following me and I had an instant "community" (took much longer with this blog). I even created a secret fictional persona on twitter which I don't post to very often but has a larger following than the real me. Twitter has RSS feeds and a great API so I can consume it at work even though it is blocked. Here are the ins and outs of keeping my "community" at a decent size. I follow people that I already know from blogs and podcasts. I check people that follow me and will follow them ONLY if they post useful links and information (usually tech gurus) or are entertaining. If they tell me they just clipped their toenails, see ya! It's gotta be worth my time. And I skim REALLY FAST. In the beginning, I had twitter anxiety (and even dreamt about it once) trying to come up with stuff that is witty, but in the end I'm just myself. It's really good for funny thing that is not quite long enough for a blog post like, "While playing Outburst Jr. with my 7-year-old son, his first answer to Things that Rhyme with Dog was Blog." (I plagiarized from my comment on Julie's post, but that's OK because I wrote it!)

Here are a couple links just to show the power of those 140 characters:
  • Twittervision - Completely mesmerizing especially in 3D.
  • Twitterverse - Looking at the size of the tags from Super Fat Tuesday, you can almost see how the election turned out.
Now, can this technology be abused? Sure, there are plenty of people trying to hock their stuff or promote their site. It doesn't bug me, there's going to be marketing everywhere you go. People that are constantly trying to plug something are easily dropped from my network. You ignore it just like you ignore billboards, newspaper ads and commercials. I put a feed of my blog posts on twitter, sometimes people visit, and most of the time they ignore it. No problem. But when I got the jitters before going into my Google Interview, it was great to get real time support from twitter, because I sure as heck couldn't talk about it to my co-workers.

In terms of the other more promoting social networks like Digg and StumbleUpon, it is just the masses latching onto something. It can be fun to follow and ride the wave but it feels more like a cheap date. It's all hype and no substance. Of course I appreciate that some of my posts have made it onto StumbleUpon, but I'm not about to go around promoting myself and I certainly don't follow people who do.

The one thing about all this social media that I am wary about is privacy. In all my social media and networking (with the exception of LinkedIn), I do not publish my last name. In fact I get annoyed when a site insists on a last initial or more (Pownce, Facebook). I still have that fear in the back of my head that someone will see my cute kids and try to abduct them. So although I'm all gung ho about Web 2.0, it is just the internet Angela, or moonfever0, and not exactly the real me.


SciFi Dad said...

I share a similar perspective, likely due to the fact that I'm an engineer (although software doesn't frighten me).

As I said over at Julie's, the social networking aspects are concerning because of the recent upswing in their popularity, which means more people without the technical or logical knowledge are using the system without thinking things through.

When I started blogging, I posted my real first name, as well as that of my wife and daughter. We also posted images of all of us. But after a bit of time, I developed a readership, and with that came more google hits of the unsavoury variety.

So, I did a hard boot. We left notes (both my wife and I blog) asking for emails, and if we knew the person we kept the address on file. A week later, the old sites were dead and the new ones rose from the ashes, complete with pseudonyms and obscured images.

I'm even reluctant to connect my blog to my facebook because FB feels more like a directory than a network (or at least that's how I use it with the restrictions I have on my profile).

But a lot of people don't think that way. I've read some bloggers who posted their daily commuting schedule as well as a link to their FB page that not only has a full name, but AN ADDRESS as well! For every "normal" person who reads their blog, how many came looking for adult diaper fetish stuff?

In the end, the tools are going to be used wisely and stupidly. And thanks to the stupid ones, there will always be tech jobs to make the systems more idiot proof. It's small consolation, but it's something.

Julie Pippert said...

I'm glad you weighed in with your $2 worth. :)

It needed the POV of people who actively---and well-beyond amateurishly---use the tools.

I think you use it wisely, but I'd expect nothing less. Suz made a good point at my spot and that is the generation gap. We didn't grow up with this and take it much less for granted, plus we are older (and theoretically wiser).

I worry a bit about privacy.

But I use my real name, and a reader outed my location, which ended up fine because it gained me a local network.

I do this because (a) I use my blog as a bit of a CV and portfolio. A lot of writing jobs ask for links to your blog, now. Yesterday I probably linked to it and other places I wrote at least half a dozen times as reason why these people ought to pay me to write.

Some workplaces---and this is a rising scandal---ask for full disclosure form you about your blogs and social network identities (which I think is wrong, wrong wrong!!) and insurance companies use them to discriminate against you for health care (OH SO WRONG!!!).

However, I believe the jobs I apply for use it innocuously.

This is a reason I am careful and aim always for quality when I do things online.

And that right there is the point we all keep hinting at but haven't really directly tackled: who we are and how we use the tool.

That's like Part II.

We are using it honestly.

Others aren't, pnecessarily.

That's why I say caveat attemptor.

But agree they are good tools.

Julie Pippert said...

Oh distracted myself from (b) point. LOL

(b) is simply that by not obscuring my identity, I resist temptation to sink below my standards level.

Oh the days I'd like to rail on certain things. But I wouldn't do that in real life. Not to the public at large, anyway, so I don't do it online, either.


(Two attempts to get past word verification.)

Anonymous said...

OK, I will try to leave off comment moderation for a while, let's see if the fascist, pornographic and crap-hocking pigs stay away (or if I can delete them fast enough)...

Well, I'm glad I'm not a writer by trade, so I can still hide behind some veil of anonymity, if not completely obscured like Sci Fi Dad. My LinkedIn profile is enough for my professional aspirations and does NOT link to any of my other online activities in any way. I don't even tell my co-workers my blog name.

I like to think that I maintain some level of quality and amusement on the blog or else readers will go elsewhere. And I love to post pictures of the kids and I think people enjoy them as well (especially people who know them in person). Yes, I get the unsavory searches too (check out thursday thirteen coming out tonight), but that's going to happen anyway. People leer and whistle at you on the street, that doesn't prevent you from walking on it.

This has been really fun, I think I will try to do more Hump Day Hmms.

Anonymous said...

Here from Julie.

I love this week's topic. I am sort of the opposite of you in that I find technology sort of off-putting, but I do like the power it has. Thank you for the explanation of Twitter, since I really had no idea what it was!

Love the cheap date analogy.


le35 said...

I think it's interesting that you brought up Twitter in the work place, even though it is blocked. Where does social networking have a place in the work place and where doesn't it? There are companies where a person can get fired for messaging an out of office contact in the office and such. That's a whole new topic though.

I have also posted a hump day hmmm at attachedparent.blogspot.com, feel free to go see it.

TwoSquareMeals said...

Thanks for stopping by and commenting on my post. It was great to read another perspective on the subject. I think I am really just a Luddite and don't have any desire to get too involved online. I totally agree with you on the issue of privacy. It is a tight line to walk, though, putting oneself out there and trying to keep it anonymous. I just assume that people will eventually discover me.

noreen said...

I just postsd a picture of the hearts

Anonymous said...

Great points all--especially regarding safety. SU is like a cheap date! That is a perfect analogy. I'm just learning though...glad you hopped in this week. It was only my second turn up at bat myself, but I'll be hmming more often. Hope to see you back at Julie's...

Anonymous said...

I have gone back and forth about the privacy issue. right now, my following is small. Outside of a couple of regular readers, most of the <15 people who visit my blog each day are longtime friends or family. Most of the blogs I read initially (long before I thought I was worthy of writing my own) had authors who used their own names. They posted pictures of themselves, family, friends, kids, etc and still so. I followed that model when I began blogging, because the blogs I was reading left me no reason to question it. Plus, I used to have "someone might discover my writing" some day fantasies (I no longer do) and thought it was important to have my real name attached to the biggest body of my work one can find. Many of the blogs I have begun reading in the past six months are of moms who use pseudonyms for their kids and initials for their husbands. I understand the protective reasons for doing this, and have debated making such a change myself (the hard reboot as SciFi Dad calls it), but I debate whether fighting for privacy in virtual space is a futile exercise and I have yet to come to a good answer.