Monday, June 15, 2009

how many social networking sites can you think of?

Attended a talk about young people, social networking and contraceptive health, by Barbara Hastings-Asatourian, inventor of Contraception, the Board Game. Lots of interesting stuff, both from her presentation and the reaction from the workers.

One of the things she asked us was how many social networking sites we were aware of. For me, this was a question than ran and ran, throughout the presentation, and I eventually ended up with the list below:

contraception,young people,social networking,meeting notes

Pretty scary stuff. In a world with so many social networks, how can messages like safer sex penetrate successfully?

This second page has some of my ideas, but I probably have to interpret:

social networking,young people,contraception

Not sure of the significance of the woman on wheels? Let me elucidate:
  1. Select a few big services and link up your service/message across them. Who's on the page? Blogger, Twitter, Facebook, Myspace -- Bebo should be there, too.
  2. Use these services to network and make connections with other people working in the same area (either geographically or a topic area).
  3. Join groups, post links, create stuff and generally use your social networks socially.
  4. Targeted advertising on Facebook -- probably worth a try.
  5. Don't put large amounts of resources into one thing; the internet is fickle.
During the session, Barbara encouraged staff to share their anxieties about social networking, always useful, and a lot of the regular anxieties you always see turned up; privacy, timewasting, social/work blurring, alienation, potential for abuse.

There was also a staff member who was more forthright about the value of social networking and online communication in general (including email!) "People aren't socialising properly, they're not learning the skills to talk face to face any more, they're just talking online and that's not real communication, it's all happening in their head. They're just sitting behind screens, tapping away, what's that doing to them, mentally and physically?"

An interesting question. I didn't answer during the session, though I had to bite my tongue hard not to; I remember my first time, on telnet, talking to people in America. It was amazing, and it didn't replace offline communication, it enabled it. It made it better, and broader and less parochial. For the first time I felt like a world citizen, even if only in a small way, in a small out-of-the-way part of the world. But, OK, what has it done to me?
  1. Enabled regular contact with a broader and larger group of people
  2. Created social contacts outside my immediate geographic and social area
  3. Allowed me to hold onto friends I would otherwise have fallen out of touch with
  4. Enabled me to sample broader sets of information and advice
  5. Made it possible for me to revisit/rediscover/run away from friendships from the past
  6. Made me a more flexible and thoughtful friend
  7. Let me find out about far more things than I would have done otherwise
  8. Added a new dimension to existing friendships
  9. Helped me keep in touch with family members
  10. Taught me new and interesting ways of socialising
Physically? I'm average.