Social network overload

[cross-posted at the TechLearning blog]

What social networks do I belong to? Let me see…

MySpace. Ning Classroom 2.0. Facebook. Ning EdubloggerWorld. LinkedIn. Ning Stop Cyberbullying. The blogosphere. The Did You Know? 2.0 wiki community. And my burgeoning list of Twitter friends. And the folks in my Skype and other instant messaging networks. And also my only-sometimes-electronic personal and professional networks: other professors, principals, superintendents, technology coordinators, assessment coordinators, former students, friends, family. And so on… (do listservs count? Second Life? my classes in WebCT?)

A few things are becoming clear to me about all of this social networking that is occurring:

  1. I don’t have time to do much of it. I see the active Twittering that’s going on, the vibrant dialogues occurring in Ning, the questions that others are asking and answering in Facebook. I’m already exhausted trying to balance everything. I can’t keep up with the reading, not to mention the posting and participating. I’ve essentially chosen e-mail, the blogosphere, and live people over more formalized social networking and instant messaging tools. Maybe I’m starting to become one of those antiquated old fogies that the young whippersnappers complain about… (Q: if I have a bunch of social networking “friends” but never participate, does that make me “antisocial?”)
  2. I spend more time in the networks that push notifications out to me via e-mail or my RSS aggregator. I’d likely be more active in Facebook, for example, if I could subscribe to all of its functionality rather than having to remember to go visit.
  3. I agree with Wired.
  4. We need to be sure that one of the 21st century skills students learn is “navigating and managing multiple, potentially overlapping, worldwide social networks” (or something like that).
  5. As some of us encourage educators to dive into social networking, it behooves us to explicitly acknowledge the challenges of time management, multiple network management, etc. It’s not all glam and glitz.
  6. There are a lot of social networks out there. Some of them are a little lame (wait a minute! I belong to one of these!).
  7. Right now RSS is the key. Services like Feedburner’s subscribe via e-mail are stopgaps to bridge old technologies with the new.
  8. Maybe I need a dedicated widescreen social networking monitor, one that I just load up with open social networking, IM, RSS, Twitter, and e-mail windows. That way I’ll never miss a beat (and also never get anything else done).

I need to get over my worry that I’m going to miss something. I’m saying no to the next social network invitation I get. I don’t care if it’s the “People who want to give Scott McLeod a million dollars” network. Sorry. My brain is full.

P.S. #4 is really important.

7 Responses to “Social network overload”

  1. One of my favorite Larson cartoons!

    Hey, Scott, I can hardly keep up with blogging and commenting on other blogs I enjoy. You shouldn’t feel so bad! 😉

  2. Does this beg the question, which tools are going to hang around? Since school started, I’ve been working fairly hard to find my balance between talking to people, returning e-mails, twittering, blogging (it’s suffered the most though it’s where I have the most to do), reading, commenting…
    Can the “market” support all of the tools available? Does the somewhat viral nature of these tools harm their usage? If a teacher is first introduced to blogging, twitter and IM, I would hypothesize that those are the tools they will use the most. If another teacher is first introduced to Ning, Skype and wikis, I would hypothesize those to be the most utilized tools.
    The diversity can lead to fissures. Are teachers using the tools they need or the tools they know?
    (Please ignore my question-to-answer ratio here.)
    Thanks for making me think.

  3. Couldn’t agree more about number 4.

    There is also Dunbar’s Number…http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunbar's_number

    I don’t think you really can have a relationship with everyone. Even if everyone wants to have a relationship with you!

    So what do we do next? Wait for a clear winner in social networking tools and then pick your sites?

  4. Well then, I’ll thank you publicly here for being the first edublogger to Skype with me. You started me on the road which has led to me to becoming a webcaster at Ed Tech Talk. It’s now official: http://www.webcastacademy.net/node/1264

    Your patience and time were invaluable as I started on this road. Thank you!

  5. #2, #7, #8- all of them are solvable by using a cute social aggregator called 8hands
    It merge on all of your profiles into a single interface on your desktop!
    You don’t have to keep logging in to networks, and you can be sure that you won’t miss anything cause it provides live notifications.

  6. Here I am in the before-school hours wondering what to do with my new Ning account, how to get to my blog, when to update our school’s web site (the old fashioned way), and on and on. I turn to my RSS feeds for some news and inspiration, and find someone’s read my mind and even given it a name, ‘social network overload.’ I’d like to wait for the ‘clear winner,’ too, simply for a smaller field, if I felt that winning had anything to do with quality of service. A big issue I have with all the web services out there now is that most ‘pop up’ through popularity, which doesn’t always equate with quality. When we’re providing (or usurping) these opportunities for our students, quality is what counts. Where to go with that? Ummm… dangerously close to the time I need to get my kids and myself off to school! I’ll think on it over some scrambled eggs…

  7. When Do You Find the Time?

    Lets face it, social networking takes a lot of time. You need to read your friends blog entries, read all to comments posted to you, find and accept new friends and see all their latest photos. At the same time…

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