How I Get ‘Net-Social

Social networking is becoming a backbone of internet culture. The spark of connecting with others online can be endlessly rewarding, and exemplifies the value of the internet. Much of my interactions online are now done through various social networking sites such as Facebook, Live Journal and Zaadz. Social networking has a long way to go before it works smoothly, though.

The main trouble right now, I believe, is a lack of interoperability between the networks; it’s annoying and time-consuming to have to visit dozens of sites to keep up with what my friends are doing rather than looking at one page. Each site is offering a dynamic community and great features, but none is without some area it’s lacking in. I hope a decentralized method of interaction between the sites will arise. Some sites, such as Wink, are moving toward a decentralization of the social networking space, and that gives me some hope. So far decentralized social networking is in infancy, sadly.

Lifehack has a marvelous article on “That Whole Social Networking Thing” that addresses some other strengths and pitfalls we encounter in social networking.

If you haven’t figured this all out, the reason the world is going all social networking happy is because this is your means to connect to people directly… It’s a way to extend your audience of friends, colleagues, business partners, and teammates. The whole point of this is to build your new world map from the digits and bits and free hugs left floating out there on the Internet in search of you. Did you know that? People are trying to find you and connect.

I’d also recommend taking a look at “Hobnobberry 3.0” over at MediaSpin.

So for now I’m using a handful of social sites daily and keeping up with about a dozen more from time to time. I’d like to share some of my favourites. If you’re using any of them, feel free to add me as a friend there. My profiles can be found by clicking on the orbs for each network. I’ll try to keep this list comprehensive of all my social network activity. If you just want an overview of how I’m being social, check out my Wink profile. There’s a miraculous energy in that We space, isn’t there?


Wink

Wink is a social network for social network junkies. It provides one page to display all your activity on a large number of social sites. This is how I envision the future of social networking, a living statement of our presence in the world. Wink holds the seeds of the future and is one of the best options available for keeping connected across social networks.


Zaadz

Zaadz is my favourite of all social networking sites because it has both a wonderful purpose and a superb backbone. It’s a community of people committed to positive change in self, culture and nature with skillful means and more heart than I could have imagined. Forging a community based on conscious capitalism is exciting and novel, making for a sustainable and growing network of the best and brightest on the internet.

“We’re in the process of building THE most inspired community of people in the world…social networking with a purpose, a community of seekers and conscious entrepreneurs circulating wisdom and inspiration and wealth and all that good stuff. We’re passionate about inspiring and empowering people to bring their dreams to life, learning and growing and getting paid to do what they love, using their greatest gifts in the greatest service to the world. (And having fun in the process!)”


Facebook

From great depth we move on to great span. Facebook is a tremendously fast growing social network where it seems every last one of my friends is signing up. Status updates, photos, event sharing, and a slick one page update section are aspects I’m impressed by. Much better designed than MySpace, it’s a gem of the social networking world because so many people are there and the features are fleshed out very well.

Last.FM

For a music junkie, I can’t imagine a better social site than Last.fm. The site records and analyzes your music listening habits, creating an accurate profile of the music you like. You can then share your music taste with friends, play streaming music stations based on the music you actually like, the favourites of your friends and hundreds of other criteria. It’s much better than Pandora, and can record your listening in everything from Amarok to your iPod to Winamp. In the mood for some electro funk? You’re covered!


Twitter

Twitter is the simplest of social networks: All it asks is “What are you doing?” But from this a lot of buzz has been created. It takes the core of social networking, knowing what others are doing, and is direct, simple and elegant in enabling users to answer the most basic question we would ask our friends.


Del.icio.us

Del.icio.us is a social bookmarking site, allowing you to find interesting websites, share sites you discover yourself and see what your friends have found worthy of spreading. It allows for sorting, storing and sharing of your bookmarks in an intuitive and fun way, using tags to note what your links contain. Using Firefox and this addon, you can use Del.icio.us as your native bookmarking method.

43 Things

Setting goals can make getting things done a lot easier. 43 Things takes this to a new level by bringing it into the social web. At the site users create lists of goals, write about progress, cheer on others and foster an environment that makes doing the focus. I’ve found it to be a practical aid in achieving my goals, whether grand or entirely silly.

People have known for years that making a list of goals is the best way to achieve them. Why is that? First, getting your goals in writing can help you clarify what you really want to do. You might find you have some important and some frivolous goals. That is OK. You’ve got space for 43 Things on your list. Not every one of them has to change the world (but save room for the ones that might).


43 Places

Wanderlust is one of my enduring traits, so a site dedicated to places near and far is a good home for me. 43 Places, like its sister site 43 Things, helps to create a list. This time it’s of places to explore. Checking in to a place lets us share just where we are at any time. Sharing places visited, favourite haunts, stories and photos makes this a well-rounded travel and local information site.

43 People

43 People is a site for meeting people, oddly enough. The site allows us to list up to 43 people we’d like to meet, from famous icons to the fascinating people we discover online. It also has a function for tagging people with keywords we associate with them. According to one friend, I’m “especially loft-a-riffic.”

All Consuming

As a music junkie, bookworm and international film fan, it can be very hard for me to keep track of all the media I’ve consumed and those I need to get around to experiencing. All Consuming provides a dynamic solution to this problem by allowing me to add media as I experience it –or as I remember having done so–, make a list of future consumptions and discover new media through suggestions and the lists of others.

Comic Vine

I admit it, I am a comic book geek. I do stick to graphic novels most of the time, but I do have a soft spot for Spidey, Runaways and Psylocke in Marvel Comics. Comic Vine is a wiki or encyclopedia for comics, with some cosmic radiation-saturated social networking for comic geeks. There’s no better place to discover all you need to know about the Green Goblin.

LiveJournal
I cut my social networking teeth with the service we lovingly call LJ. Its focus is on blogging and the connections that arise through reading about others’ lives. It’s hard to believe I started my blogging and social networking life there some six years ago, but that early pioneer in the social web was a true trailblazer for sites to come. Even today it is a vibrant place with homes for any interest imaginable. Having met many of my dearest friends both in realspace and digitalspace there, it always has a warm spot in my heart.

Friendster
Friendster is one of the second class social networks. It’s not as popular as a Facebook or MySpace, but it does hold a substantial user base. It doesn’t have many unique features, but the community is very much alive.

Consumating
Consumating is a quirky social network. “Consumating is a new way to find people who don’t suck. It’s a social network, an online hang out, and a contest of wits all wrapped up in an addictive candy shell!” It’s a weird mix of popularity contest, geeky conversation and people tagging, but it somehow works better than I’d expect.

Hi 5
Like Friendster, Hi 5 is of the second class of the social networks. All that makes it stand out is its use of “fives,” which are iconic badges users can give friends. For instance, I’m a hero, a nerd, a thinker and cool, if you believe what my friends have tagged me as.

MySpace
Everyone knows MySpace. It’s constantly in the news, is the most popular social network and is a major place to market to youth. But it’s horrendously designed (ugly and not user-friendly), has a very limited feature set, is full of spammers, and is not nearly as fun as it should be. It’s saved only by a large user community, as far as I can tell.
There are countless other social networks out there, but this is a collection of one I have experience with. Do share your own favourites.

4 comments on “How I Get ‘Net-Social

  1. Then Microsoft will again shoot itself in the foot. What Microsoft does as a company is becoming increasingly irrelevant to the online world as folks like me give up on it entirely and move to more efficient and elegant operating systems, software and services.

  2. Then Microsoft will again shoot itself in the foot. What Microsoft does as a company is becoming increasingly irrelevant to the online world as folks like me give up on it entirely and move to more efficient and elegant operating systems, software and services.

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