Monthly Archives: May 2013

Micro-blogging Practices – Twitter

Well, here I go again with another new adventure, this time it’s Twitter.  I didn’t have an account (never really saw the need for one) so the first thing to do was to create one. No problem there, but now that I have one what to do with it!  Part of the sign up process requires that you choose five accounts to follow. First problem, who or what to follow? I opted for a couple of news sites, museums, and astronaut Chris Hadfield (after all for the last few months the media has been filled with news of Commander Hadfield and his tweets). I did search for acquaintances who I thought might have a Twitter account but couldn’t find anyone, so nothing much to report there, so back to Commander Hadfield. I found it interesting to hear about his experiences not only in space but also once he returned to earth.  For example he tweeted about how he had to adjust to the effect of gravity on his tongue and how this affected his speech – not something I ever would have thought about! 

As far as trending, many of the topics seems to be concerned with celebrities and I’m afraid I don’t have the time or desire to follow their every move. The other trends seem to be news items. While I do like to know what is making news, I don’t think that having a minute to minute report of every last detail of an event is that important to me. Even if I had some connection to the event, I don’t think that Twitter would be the way I would want to receive information. That being said, if I was in a situation where Twitter was the best or only method of communication I’m sure I’d be glued to my device. I did follow the Bosma case as it was a story close to home, but I find that it is just as easy to scan Google’s news section as it has information posted in a timely manner.

I can’t see myself continuing with Twitter once I complete my course.  I don’t like to be connected every minute of the day as the idea of being tracked feels like an invasion of my privacy.  I also don’t feel the need to post mundane things about my life. I only used Twitter by logging in once a day (and logging out again when I was finished). I realize that this defeats the purpose behind receiving up-to-the-second information, but I guess between work, home, school and my personal life I don’t have that much time left to spend searching through information that probably doesn’t hold much interest for me.  I find that a quick scan of the news or searching for a specific topic of interest gives me all the info that I need or that I have time for.

I suppose if I had an ‘issue’ that I wanted to promote Twitter would be a good choice. Commander Hadfield is a case in point. He certainly showed that Twitter can be used as a valuable resource. Not only did he share his passion for science by tweeting with school children across the country and the world, but his use of this communication tool garnered almost daily news reports thereby drawing the attention of non-tweeters to the mission.

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Reflections of My Network

The course that I’m currently taking requires a number of blog posts. Each of the posts deals with a specific social media topic. Prior to posting this week’s blog we had to plot out our social network on paper. While some people might have found their results surprising I mostly saw what I expected. The most commonly used Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) that I use is email followed closely by the phone. I have a full-time position in an office environment and these forms of communication, phone and email, are part of my daily routine so it comes as no surprise that they are also the technology that I use for my personal communication. It might be because I’m older, but I am quite content to carry on using these forms of technology as they satisfy my communication needs. In addition, the overwhelming majority of people in my network use the same ICTs as I do, so it only makes sense to use common technology to connect with them.

While the majority of people in my network tend to communicate on a regular basis using email or phone, we do make time to meet for face-to-face contact. This direct contact provides a greater, more personal connection, especially when combined with a shared interest or activity such as a meal, a movie, a hike, etc.

As for closeness, I expected there would be a variance in the closeness of the people in my network. It just seems natural that a kind of ‘mysterious chemistry’ draws some people together while that same chemistry seems to be lacking between others. I wouldn’t expect to share my heartfelt thoughts with everyone I know. However, there is usually a common ground that does exist between members of one’s network. This could be any shared activity that brings people together including work, hobbies, sports, school, etc.

One thing that does stand out is the lack of diversity across my network. The majority of the people in my social network, no matter whether they are very close, somewhat close or acquaintances, are generally similar in ethnicity, and worldviews. The one area that does show diversity is in the age range which includes people in their 20’s to those in their 80’s. However, neither of these facts came as a surprise as I have met many of the people through a shared interest and none of those interests are age specific. In addition, if there was a radical difference between our worldviews I wouldn’t expect to be very close to those individuals. While a difference of opinion is good to keep a relationship fresh, a strong difference of opinion generally seems to drive people apart.

I believe that most of the people in my network, particularly those in the innermost two circles, would most willingly share their time, resources, and/or friendship. I can’t imagine that the relationship would last if give and take wasn’t part of the rapport. 

HOW SOCIAL AM I?

My immediate answer to this question is not very. I am quite happy with my own company, doing my own thing, reading, gardening or just vegging out. But when I think about it a little more closely, I’m with people all day long at work, I socialize with them. I’m enrolled in a class at Brock, I belong to a kayaking club, so more socializing there. I’ve been involved in a number of different activities throughout my life which provided me with the opportunity to discover new friends and acquaintances, and then there is my family … maybe I am social after all. All these encounters are mostly face to face.  When it comes to being social in the electronic sense, I’m back to my original answer, not very.  I guess I just don’t see the point in chatting about mundane things, and from my limited experience, that seems to be mostly what social media is about. However, after the first class in my latest course, “Social Media: Reading and Writing in New Spaces” I get the feeling that it won’t be long until I discover the value of this new way of socializing.