New Year Resolution: Clean up social networking

I don’t do New Year resolutions. Honest. I mean, it’s just one more day and a public holiday to allow us to nurse our hangovers in peace, right? Still, I know plenty of people do them, but if you think you’re going to make yourself over, you’re in for a rude shock. Instead, I’m picking a few minor changes to make with realistic goals that I think will improve me overall.

There’s no doubt that social networking is both useful and fun. But it’s become a bit of a hodgepodge of interconnected services that overlap, never find wide-enough traction to be useful, or are just plain dangerous. I’m not going into another rant about what I do and don’t like — this is about personal preference. I am, however, going to clean up my act and start walking the walk.

fuckingloveFacebook

The big one. I’m going to spend January on a self-imposed exile from Facebook. Somehow in the last 12 months, it’s gone from photos of parties, weddings and babies to reshares from irrelevant celebrities (whose posts I suspect are largely ghost-written), and pages like “I fucking love fridays, like if you agree” (see to the right; I suspect are largely spam farms). All of a sudden, I discovered that I wanted to know what my friends had for lunch today. Wasn’t that the point? To stay in touch and keep up to date?

I also had a couple recent run-ins with the way FB handles privacy. While I’ll admit an amount of user error, the service actually makes it easy to screw things up. Rather than risk further stuff ups, I think that it’s definitely time for me to put up or shut up on this. However, before I jump ship there are things that I need to do.

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Reflections on social networking

With the rise of Google+ as my preferred social network, I’ve had some opportunity to reflect on how my online interactions with my friends have changed.

Way back when I was an Internet geekling, I used email and ICQ (remember them? Uh-oh!) I ran a website, but that was mostly a playground for some very… Immature web design experimentation - also teen angst.

Eventually the website became this blog, and though I moved from ICQ to MSN, I stopped using chat a whole lot. I got on to LiveJournal, and that was a great way to stay in touch with friends. Most of my circle were on LJ, whether in Australia, or older school friends that I wanted to stay up to date with.

Then Facebook came. Some people will talk about MySpace, Friendster or Twitter, but Facebook got the formula right for me. LJ is largely a ghost town because the long form that LJ encourages is comparatively a lot more work. Add to that a virtually nonexistent mobile platform and you’ve got a recipe for untended journals and silent Friend pages.

I’ll admit my own guilt. I can’t remember the last time I wrote an LJ post. I was addicted to Facebook, checking it constantly. That’s mostly because FB was very vibrant. Everybody was on it, so conversations were always in progress, and it made communication so effortless.

But in the last year, I’ve lost the free time at work that helped sustain my addiction. Facebook’s repeatedly inept handling of privacy issues has made me reluctant to share very much through the site as well. As a result, I’ve more than halved my “Friends” list, and spend no more than a couple minutes a week glancing over it.

And now Google+ is here its been a great chance to  rethink everything about how I interact with people. Things are changing. I’m taking my time to come up with a, well ‘strategy’ is such a corporate word, but it’s apt. I need to think about status updates, photos, blog posts, publishing, walking the public/private line and more. Time for that in another post.

Social synchronising

The proliferation of social networking has made keeping everything synchronised very difficult. Whether you’re on Facebook, Livejournal, Twitter, Flickr, Digg, run a separate Blog, or any other of the million offerings out there, it’s hard to keep them all up to date.

And for the borderline obsessive-compulsives like me, the iPhone makes it a whole lot messier. Now that I can update things from anywhere at any time, I need to find the best way to make this whole business efficient and simple. I’m still researching which apps will be best, but I would like to make some observations.

Tweetdeck is a great Twitter client. It supports multiple accounts, and can sync your settings across multiple PCs, making it a must if you tweet from work and home. It uses the Adobe Air runtime, which makes it easily cross-platform. It also has built in access to picture tweeting and URL shortening services.

Furthermore, there is an iPhone client which adapts the same interface to the iPhone pretty well, but doesn’t have the Facebook updating feature (yet, I hope).

Another feature I would like to see in Tweetdeck is Flickr uploading. I’ve used these instructions from Obsessable on enabling Flickr2Twitter, but having it all built in to one place would be nice. I’d prefer it to Twitpic.

So, what networks do you use, and how do you manage them all?

Jumping on the bandwagon after all

Just quickly. In an effort to stay “hip” and “with it” (despite turning 29 today), I have joined the Twitter crowd.

It’s a nifty little thing that, on the surface, seems to be nothing more than a very limited self-promotion platform. “Microblogging”, it’s called; posting every little minutiae about your life. It’s the Facebook status update, without the Facebook. Continue reading