Ah, social networking! The 23 Things for Professional Development blog picked another good one for Thing 6! This is a topic that really fascinates me, and I’ve enjoyed getting connected with other librarians and library students on different social networks in recent months (since applying and getting accepted to library school). I’ve also had fun reconnecting with several former students from my teaching days, in addition to old friends from my hometown, old friends from camp, and classmates from high school and college. I’ve also enjoyed learning new things about my friends and colleagues now. One of the things that’s amazed me is how some of the people I know are connected with other people I know in some totally different way!
1) Facebook: The surprising connections among mutual friends has happened mostly on Facebook. (Has anyone else noticed this?) I think that’s probably because I have more contacts on Facebook than on any other social networking site. I think that Facebook was the first social networking site I signed up for, and it’s the one I spend the most time on. I feel pretty comfortable with the features, though sometimes the news feed can be a little overwhelming. Still, it’s a great way to stay in touch with friends, family, and colleagues. I’m the only one in my immediate family who’s on Facebook, though I’ve connected with other family members and have “met” some cousins I didn’t know I had on there. (I keep hoping that my sister will sign up! *hint, hint*)
2) LinkedIn: LinkedIn is a professional social network, but I’m connected with a combination of colleagues, friends, and family there. Some of my connections are more active than others, of course. I enjoy the group aspect on LinkedIn, and have especially enjoyed some of the discussions in the American Library Association group there.
3) Twitter: Twitter’s niche is “micro-blogging,” short posts of 140 characters or less. My time on Twitter fluctuates, partly because the Twitter feed can be a little overwhelming. I’ve learned some interesting tips and ideas on Twitter, though. In fact, I was on Twitter when I learned that Michael Jackson had died.
4) Goodreads: Goodreads is one of the most useful social networks for me, because I love to read, and it helps me keep track of what I’ve read. I’ve learned about some interesting titles from my Goodreads friends list, which I’ve added to my “to-read” shelf. I like Goodreads’ virtual shelf feature, because you can create your own shelves to accommodate a variety of subjects or goals. I’ve tried Shelfari and other reading social networks, including LibraryThing, but Goodreads is still my favorite in this category, partly because more of my friends on it too.
5) DailyMile: DailyMile is my favorite social network for exercising. It’s easy to upload runs and walks recorded on my Garmin Forerunner 205, and easy enough to add other workouts too. DailyMile friends can comment on each other’s workouts, so it’s an easy way to share workouts and encouragement. (For my workout stats, I prefer BuckeyeOutdoors, but I can upload my Garmin workouts easily there too. You can have “friends” on BuckeyeOutdoors too, but it’s not as easy to comment on workouts.) I’ve just recently started exploring MapMyRun again, and you can have “friends” there too. It’s not quite as intuitive as DailyMile, but I do love maps.
6) SparkPeople: SparkPeople is a weight loss and fitness support website that does a pretty good job with information and support. I’ve enjoyed the articles, some of the trackers, and the “teams,” groups that you can join based on geography or interest. It’s a colorful website with tons of info, so sometimes it results in sensory overload and I need to step back from it for a while, but I always find myself coming back to it.
7) Google+ : Google+ is my newest addition to the social networking list. Since I like searching on Google, as well as Google Docs, Google Maps, and Gmail, I’m having fun working with Google+. My friends list on it is relatively short, but that’s allowing me to keep up with the feed a little better at this point! I think that the whole “circle” thing has a lot of potential! I like the visual. With Facebook, I have many people on lists, but I don’t really use the lists much, because they’re usually “out of sight, out of mind.” I think Google+ has some interesting possibilities for library school as well as my genealogy (especially organizing family groups).
I use some other websites that have some other social networking aspects, but that’s not the main event. Flickr, Yahoo’s photo storage and sharing site, encourages comments on photos and the addition of “contacts.” (I find that I use Flickr more than Google’s Picasa.
Social networking has become a great way to keep up with old friends and make new connections! I think it’s also a nice way for introverts like me to stay in touch with more people. I think that social networks definitely have a place, but are not a replacement for all contact with people. As usual, “variety of the spice of life!”