I just posted this as a comment in response to a post at Information Wants to be Free. There are some really great, common sense comments.
Speaking as someone who has a smaller blog readership and a shorter speaker resume, social software has provided me with connections to colleagues that I never would have had opportunity or courage to make otherwise. I see Ning, Facebook, Twitter (tumblr, jaiku), and to some extent, flickr, as ways to connect with other librarians more frequently than at conferences. Itâ€™s tremendously important for us to connect with each other, for no other reason than we do and care about the same things. Itâ€™s vital to feel validated and that youâ€™re going down the right path. I guess *that* is what 2.0 tools and â€œfriendshipâ€ with other librarylanders does for me.
I like the concentric circle approach of flickrâ€“someone can be a â€œcontact,â€ â€œfriendâ€ or â€œfamily.â€ I like being able to limit photos to a certain group of people yet add someone whose images I like as a contact. I do not reciprocate contact adding on flickr if I do not like the personâ€™s images; thatâ€™s what flickr is all about. I was a little sensitive about this at first but have grown thicker skin.
Purely communication sites are somewhat a different story. I like the detail request feature of Facebook, though I feel like a prat using it, sometimes. I have added everyone on Facebook who has added me (though I must say some people get â€œpokedâ€ more than others. heh.) I have found a few folks on Facebook through their blogs or other doings in libraryland, but Iâ€™m not hurt if they do not add me in return. Disappointed, maybe, but not hurt: Facebook is more personal, I suppose. OTOH, I have immensely enjoyed its silliness and am glad of the connections Iâ€™m forging there.
I was excited about Twitter at the outset, until people that I wanted to have tweet conversations with did not add me backâ€“simply because they did not know me and already had dozens of followers, I am sure, though it made me feel rather Stuart Smalley for a while.
LinkedIn is another story; it seems to pivot around actual personal connections, which after being momentarily puzzled by this, makes sense to me. IMHO, itâ€™s trying to remedy this whole issue; the way the site works implies that a â€œconnectionâ€ is a â€œconnectionâ€â€“=I would never walk up to Roy Tennant in real life and say, â€œHey, you came to my library ten years ago to consult on our nascent digital library! Would you give me a job?â€ So I canâ€™t do that on LI, either. (ftr, I would never do that to anyone who is â€œonlyâ€ a web 2.0 connection, either!)