Sunday, January 17, 2010

In Which the Author Does a Little Soft-Shoe

Busy in Babbage these past few nights, and the typist busy at the office during the day, I've had little time to go through my usual Journal production function, and my backlog of content has run dry. Consequently, while waiting for other obligations to end to give time for some new content creation, I'm doing a little soft-shoe to keep the attention of the audience. A few tidbits...

I try to hit a post a day - something I may rethink in the future - to keep both me and any actual readers entertained. Even so, I know I'm not the most prolific person out there. But Miss Emilly Orr astounded me with a remarkable four entries in the space of an hour!

The Value of Social Networks

While I’m sitting here, procrastinating – dash it all, another New Year’s resolution down the tubes! – I check some favorite blogs. Then Twitter. Then some more blogs. If I had a Facebook account, I’d probably check that, too, along with a half-dozen other social networking sites. Fortunately, I have the discipline not to join any of them, because I’d just add another 15 minutes to my routine of screwing around before I get to what I was planning all along.

It’s clear to me that these sites excel at inducing people to waste their time. What's less clear is what positive purposes they serve, and whether those purposes could be achieved better some other way. Twitter allows quick news updates (and I'll define "news" broadly - anything from the Haitian earthquake to a new concert by your favorite performer), announcements of new blog entries, links to Aetherweb sites, and, no doubt, things I haven't imagined. But it's new, and some people are trying it out to entertain themselves, while others are trying it out to market whatever they have to sell, and who knows where it will all end up. These experiments are useful, even if specific ones fail.

Which brings me to Google Wave. I know some residents of the Steamlands are in the beta - I'm not - and they surely have a better handle on what Wave is useful for and where it doesn't move the ball, but let me offer an observation. When I first read the description of Wave, my reaction was that I had no idea what it did. That's not a good thing for a product. Sure, something about collaboration, and e-mail but better, and so on. I understood all the words, just not how they fit together. Then I saw an article called "20 Real-World Uses for Google Wave". After reading it...I'm still underwhelmed. Yeah, some of the uses sounded interesting. At work, the typist collaborates (occasionally) with others, and some of the tools sounded neat for that. But let's look at some of the other items. "1. Keep in touch with friends." Really? We needed another tool to do that? "2. Share your photos." Ditto. "3. Share files." C'mon, guys, do better than that. Again, collaborative tools are nice, at least for a fraction of the population, and having a substitute for an in-house ListServ would be great (the typist's homeowners association could benefit from that, too, though I can only imagine the rancor that could occur). But "9. To-do lists"? I do not want a collaborative to-do list. "16. Chat room." And so on.

Well, maybe I have no idea what I'm talking about, and it will be a great success. And even if it's not, as I said above, trying out new things is good because who knows what will turn out to be useful? Still, it would be nice for the Googles to communicate a clearer vision for what they'd like to do with the product.


Fogwoman Gray said...

I suspect it is more of a situation of success inspiring imitation. As a *ahem* mature adult just venturing onto Facebook and Twitter after resisting for a LONG time, I will admit to being a bit underwhelmed. I enjoy having more insight into the lives of my friends, especially those online who I do not see in person often. And being able to "follow" a favorite author is an interesting thing as well. I was a bit disappointed that His Holiness the Dalai Lama's site is just someone posting quotes from his books. But that would be a VERY interesting thing to see, following a spiritual leader in real time from all over the world. The potential of that one is a bit disturbing.
I do find it fascinating how Twitter has created a culture of folks who seem to run their day to day lives based on "tweeting" their activities. Leading to living one's life in a way that makes it interesting to one's followers. Fascinating.
Time will tell :)

Mako Magellan said...

I'm thinking of changing my name to Ludd, except that would mean I'd have to update all my pages.

In terms of real benefits, such as re-establishing contact with long-lost friends, increasing my readership, and getting business, my plain old do-it-yourself web page (not much changed in well over 10 years) has been more useful than any experiments with the trendy me-too time sinks.

HeadBurro Antfarm said...

I got on the Wave a while back and have yet to use it properly. I dunno, it seems like so much Meh to me right now. I wanted to use it to collab-write acts for the show, but it's just another 'thing' I have to log into and waste time checking if I need to be checking it.

Rhianon Jameson said...

Mrs. Volare - I'll admit to being old, but not to being mature. :) As far as I know, I have no RL friend or relative on Twitter, and the few who know I have a Twitter account think I'm nuts. (Perhaps they're right.) As you say, time will tell how useful these things are.

My RL sister has become a big fan of Facebook - but mainly, as far as I can tell, to get in touch with people she knew in high school. I don't want to be reacquainted with most of the people I knew in high school.

Mr. Ludd ( :) ), I tend to agree with you...but I hold out hope that these newfangled devices will have some better use than the ones to which they are now put.

Mr. A. - I keep waiting for the all-in-one, update once, never have to log in to multiple accounts, wunderdevice. I was kind of hoping that Wave might have potential, but I guess I'll keep waiting.