For this first post for the subject INF206, I am to define social networking, to list social networking technologies I use and to describe my expectations of INF206.

To define ‘social networking’ is to define the (almost) indefinable! Social networking is not a new phenomenon: wherever people share thoughts, ideas or some other aspect of themselves to others, they are engaging in social networking. The following graphic from John Atkinson  shows a view of how ‘the world’ functioned before the internet. Notice the representations for Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

The Outernet

The Outernet (C) John Atkinson, Wrong Hands

Simply put, social networking is the sharing of all types of information, particularly thoughts, ideas, beliefs, etc. with other people (usually within some social construct; be that formal situations such as book clubs or sporting clubs, or informal situations such as coffee or drinks with friends).

With the proliferation of the internet and the World Wide Web, opportunities for social networking have become more visible and, for many people, more accessible. This means that:

  1. people living in remore areas have greater opportunities to engage with other people,
  2. people who may not agree with the views or ideas of those in their local area can locate and engage with others who share their ideas, and
  3. people who may not be able to physically engage with people locally, for numerous reasons, have greater opportunity to reach out and engage with others.

Currently I socially network in a variety of ways (including at the local karate club and during violin lessons), however the question I am to answer specifically states that I am to look at “social networking technology and sites”. Considering this then, I currently only use social networking for personal use, those being Facebook, Twitter and more recently LibraryThing. My work role, in the non-library plane, does not require the use of many social networking technologies, so the only social networking technology I use at work is email.

My main expectation of INF206 is that I will learn more about how social networking can be used to effectively seek out, engage and hopefully, retain users in the information world. How can a library seek out future library users? How can an archive engage archive users? How can these information providers retain those information seekers and encourage them to keep coming back? It is questions like these that I am hoping INF206 will begin to answer, although I don’t expect them to be completely answered because the world wide web has moved into beta mode which sees web sites (and web resident applications) constantly changing and moving in and out of public ‘favour’.