Narrowing Down My Networks

Narrowing Down My Networks

You see the WTFMO widget on the side of my blog. It’s a scam. For a while there I was signing up for everything like a maniac. Not that that is a bad thing. It is good to stake your claim on a few social networks. In fact, I have heard it said you should, before an imposter pops in and claims your username before you can get it. Not that anyone would want to impersonate me, but it’s a nice pipe dream.

But it got to a point that there was just no way in hell that I could ever be active at every one of these sites, so eventually I had to pick some winners. And don’t get me wrong, these are temporary winners. I am very fickle when it comes to social sites and this list may be different a few months from now.

First I had to figure out what my purpose was in visiting and using these sites. I like the reciprocal effect. I like utility. And I like reading stories that aren’t the same stories I read a few days ago with a few points switched around. I also like new software and concepts of all types.

Digg, for the most part, just pisses me off. By the time you have 25 friends, your inbox is full daily. It is very impersonal. For the most part, here’s the game: Get as many friends as you can. Digg all of their stuff. Then call in your favors when you have your own stuff. It’s a lot of damn work and most of the categories are very vertical. The same type of stories rise to the top all the time despite the new categories. So Digg is kind of on my bad side right now.

I actually came back to Facebook after calling it a spam machine. I just learned to use it more effectively. So I make minor appearances there with some friends who only use it and of course, I find friends from other networks.

Mixx I am kind of checking out. I don’t get it yet and will have to spend some quality time there before I have an opinion.

Now for the networks I really use

Delicious

If you really want to know what I am researching and even get the gist of upcoming posts before I write them, this is where you will find the most information. I use it as a research archive. When I went from browser bookmarks to delicious, it took a while for me to use tags rather than folders, but I never went back.

Of course. I made fun of this one to. “What are you doing?” “Typing an update.” For the most part, you just have to jump in, follow some people, and just go with the flow. You will get it eventually.

It is were I vent, ask questions that get a quicker response than a forum or even a search at times and notify my followers of the cool things. I also learn a lot from the people I follow. It is like a web shaped forum with post limits.

StumbleUpon

No friend spammer here. If you want to send something to someone else, you have to pick and choose. More real and less face in the crowd than Digg. And reciprocal stumbles happen a lot if you are in the right place at the right time.

FriendFeed

I have heard a lot of people say that they like Twitter better or they like Friendfeed better. Apples and oranges people.

If you have someone whose opinion you respect, there is no better place to follow them than on Friendfeed because you get everything. Their tweets. Their stumbles. Their blog posts. Their diggs. All in a river format. It is faster and easier than a feed reader and it doesn’t slow down my computer like a feed reader can with a few hundred feeds.

And you can comment on or “like” any one of the items that happen to be in your river and join into conversations with other Friendfeed users. Like Twitter, it will take a while before you will “get it”.

Social Median

I like this one and am not sure why. Maybe because it is new. Maybe just because I like it. One of the features I do like is the fact it does a pretty good job of categorizing your “clips” without you having to add tags or categories. And it pulls unclipped stories out of blue and brings those to you too based on your interests, giving you the chance to be first and lazy at the same time.

Twine

A lot of the users here are way above my head. This is where you will find science, web 3.0, philosophy, and a lot of other topics that it takes a few brain cells to understand. And some of the stories I have to read really slow just to barely scratch the surface of the new knowledge. But I like that. It is like a drug at times.

Ping.fm

Okay, not a network but a way to send updates to many of the networks I don’t frequent that often. It can be abused. There is no point in spewing everything out over various networks. But I use it every now and then and actually check those various networks to see who bites and if I can get a conversation going.

The Tools

I wrote a post on tools a while back and have narrowed those down a bit too. The shiny, flashy ones for the most part only covered 1-4 networks at the most, but I still use a lot of the tools listed there. But for the most part I use two, that are very simple.

One is SocialAddict which is just a custom browser with links to most of the networks I visit. The other is a userscript that you can add to your Firefox or Flock browser. It is called FFWorkSpace and it loads other social sites inside of Friendfeed as shown below.

An awesome userscript.

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So that’s where I’m at for now. Hope to see you there too.

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Stephan Miller

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Kansas City Software Engineer and Author

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