Monday, September 15, 2008

Social Networking - Tools, Hobby or Sport?

I found this fascinating entry about a few social networks on a blog today - mind you, I actually found it VIA a microblog entry of Aliza Sherman (a professional marketing specialist et al) whom I met for the first time as the optimistic 'Cybergrrl Oh', again via an international cyber-volunteer for our Virtual Africa project in the virtual world, Second Life.

This personal experience of knowledge sharing demonstrates in a small way the very nature of connectedness in social networks - one leads to another in a bemusing cluster and we slowly grow the individual swell of professional and personal connections. However, to return to the point (that often gets lost in these type of conversations!), I read the entry and realised there are even MORE social networks and applications that I do not know - and always will be, I suspect. And the question that the entry starts with is a valid one...
How many social networks and Web 2.0 tools are enough? I clearly don’t know when enough is enough. What if the one I don’t join is the one that will truly change my life/work/future?Web Worker Daily, Sep 2008
You should read the whole article. More important, however, is reflecting on the question: What is the purpose of your own engagement with these networks and developments? The first time I deliberately started to 'network' it was an extension of our communication in every day nonprofit work. The need for more appropriate tools in development work led me deeper and deeper into innovative alpha and beta tools... and what started out a search for tools, soon became an entertaining hobby. Then, a part of my life that I do not wish to set aside...

Social networking is not a sport for me yet, but I know some people that take the discovery of these tools and application of them REALLY serious! Getting a good grade on Twitter or more karma on Plurk is an important achievement in their eyes. (And I don't refer to those professionals that need to be doing so, due to the nature of their profession). What *is* the purpose of social networks and Web 2.0 tools? This is the question that has plagued me for the past few months and (only recently) I feel closer to an answer... In the mean time, I am blessed by those people across the world that enrich lives - including my own.
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