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Monday, April 07, 2008

A Web 1.0 Guy in a Web 2.0 World

I consider myself reasonably Internet savvy. I've been using email since the early 80's, have been doing research via IM, I write a blog and have done some podcasts. But when it comes to social networking I find myself on the outside, in the wrong generation. It's not merely that I don't make much use of social networks, I just don't get it. I've tried out Facebook, Myspace and Linkedin, have loads of "friends" and haven't gotten much use out of them. I've asked younger people why they spend so much time on Facebook and what they get out of it. They tell me plenty and yet I'm still missing some crucial understanding of what makes these networks so popular. Perhaps like trying to understand why a roller coaster is fun without actually taking a ride.

Someone told me that if I started a Facebook page for my course, I could become the most popular professor in the University, but I don't know how to start or what to put up there.

In many of my classes, I start with the same question, "What is a computer?" The first response: "Something I can't live without." Computers have run the gamut from number crunchers, to word processing to a communications medium to an indispensable extension of oneself in a virtual world, a world I can enter but will never be more than a tourist.

11 comments:

  1. If you do start a facebook group for your class, all you have to do is invite the students to join (which you could do in class). If that's all you do, then they will probably take ownership of it and use it to communicate with each other about things they don't understand. You can also make announcements through it, post items (like interesting links if you find any), and all the other crap you can do with facebook. It's basically blackboard minus the dropbox. (and unlike blackboard, people might use it i guess?)

    I've seen this sentiment echoed elsewhere, but it seems like the thing Facebook lets you do, is be nosy about your friends and acquaintances, which we all are anyway. Just in this case it's acceptable and anonymous.

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  2. I do sympathise with this feeling. I am "only" twenty-three years old, and most of my friends use one of these online social networks. I have tried them out, but never really got any kicks out of it. Whenever I try to interact in Hi5, Facebook, Whatever, I miss the actual physical presence, the non-verbal communication — smiling, touching, looking in the other person's eyes, waving my arms in enthusiasm, etc.

    Even when discussing science, or other more rational subjects, I feel that this component plays some essential role.

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  3. I don't get it either, but at least it keeps these kids off my lawn.

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  4. Please tell me you did not start off class by claiming that you could model Facebook as a Turing machine. =)

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  5. I can relate to the sentiment. Sometimes it is difficult to understand the true value of these web2.0 things. Case in point, I still don't quite understand twitter!

    As for facebook, though, that one is easy: it is a glorified address book. I login regularly to see any birthdays that are coming up and who has posted pictures of their recent trips. That's it.

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  6. Almost forgot, this one may come in handy when trying to do research via im.

    http://www.tokbox.com/

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  7. well I use facebook to keep in touch with people. It's the 21st century way of keeping in touch with my friends from afar, even if they change there address a hundred times they dont change there facebook.(unless and until they delete there account)

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  8. Neither do I understand why they become so famous. I'm like almost in all the social networks and have like some 500 friends but other than adding them to my network, I haven't really ended up doing anything else. But again, I keep thinking I should've been more social savvy to actually use these tools :)

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  9. I'll add to the "glorified address book" idea. Facebook, Plaxo, etc., are in effect examples of good programming design. These services are address books where entries are pointers instead of data. So then when information changes, it need only be updated in one place, and all the pointers remain unchanged.

    From the above you can surely conclude that I am a web 1.0 guy too.

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  10. Web 2.0 is about not being Web 1.0 savvy. You get too much utility out of the older tools you use for these newer tools to be a worth while compliment.

    You probably learned how to communicate with your friends about what's going on with you. Many of these people never have, but they can post the evidence of it online and other people figure out the bigger picture that that evidence paints. And the more you use it the better is gets because when one person leaves a comment about some of the evidence it often enhances the understanding that subsequent viewers can achieve.

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