TwitterA few years ago I thought I knew all about the internet. I had attempted something like a photo blog back in 1999, not that I had heard of that term back then, to show friends and family back home what I was up to on my trip around the world.

It wasn’t completely successful but that isn’t the point. I thought I understood what the internet was for. It was simply a method of displaying static information to lots of people, or so I thought. How wrong I was.

Around that time everything changed. As more and more people got connected to the internet at ever faster speeds things evolved at an astounding rate.

As I recently mentioned I have a short term goal of improving my web presence. As the web is now such a vibrant, dynamic place, I have had to come to terms with the reality of things like social networks.

My social network experiences

FriendsReunited was my first experience with this type of application. It was quite interesting to begin with as people you had all but forgotten about from your school days joined up. At the time it was basically just a list of people. This was handy if you wanted to get in contact with someone in particular, as long as they were in the list and they checked in occasionally. The problem was, not everyone did.

The next big thing I came across was Facebook, which is a lot more interactive and wasn’t just restricted to old school and university friends. When I joined up I only really used it as somewhere to get connected to old friends. It worked quite well and there were a few people that I had lost contact with that I managed to get back in touch with.

I still log into FriendsReunited occasionally and it is quite clear that they have tried to become more like Facebook.  Unfortunately it just seems extremely cluttered now and not very intuitive.

Anyway back to Facebook. They managed to make the experience fun. Not only was this a way to get in touch with old friends you could actually just log into the site and play games or do a quiz or check out silly videos. This also has a bit of a downside though. After a while I just seemed to get inundated with so many requests for things like chocolate, plants, hugs, beers or some other random things that I couldn’t afford the time to go through them all. It began to feel like work, having to go through all these notifications and slowly I lost interest and stopped looking completely.

To me these applications just seemed like an excuse for other people, the application developers, to get their hands on my personal information. I couldn’t understand the purpose of an application that simply allowed you to throw a virtual sheep at someone.

It has taken me a while to catch on but the internet is big enough to cater for everyone and if someone wants to throw a virtual sheep at me then so be it. The way I see it FaceBook has turned into a massively multiplayer online game. The best of it is you can even choose bits to ignore if they don’t appeal to you by simply turning off that application.

I have got about 100 requests currently waiting to be dealt with. Some of the applications may even be worthwhile so I am going to check them out. I will go through all of the outstanding requests and see what they are. Any from the same application then I will look at the first one, decide if the application has any use to me otherwise I will remove it and simply click ignore for the rest.

I also plan to make sure that I check my inbox regularly as I recently realised that I was no longer getting notification e-mails when a new message arrived. After all it is still a valid way of getting in contact with someone out of the blue.

The rest of it, I have now reached the conclusion, is just a big game. I’ll only play when I feel I have the time to spare. As I don’t get a lot of time to play games at the moment I hope people don’t get offended when I don’t accept their virtual box of chocolates, or whatever.

Going forward

I have recently joined Twitter as well, with the username of peteoshea in case you were interested. I haven’t actually posted anything yet as I was just interested how this could possibly be of benefit to me. I remember being intrigued when it first came out and having a quick look and passing it over. It seems to have taken off massively now and so I thought it time I revisit it.

Still not sure how a text message sized comment of what I am currently doing is going to change my world. There is obviously a lot more to it than that, or at least people have found other uses for it. Time for a bit of research me thinks…

There are many other social networking sites but they seem to suck up time so I am reluctant to join too many more. LinkedIn is something else I have had suggested to me recently but not had any real time to look into it yet. If I get a chance I may check this out but not really sure what I would get out of it.

Anyway this is all about keeping in contact with people and improving my on-line image, or my personal brand if you like. I do not want to spend all my spare time on social network sites so I’m just going to pick and choose where to push my brand.

Image: Creative Commons License respres

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