Monday, March 02, 2009

Information flow

I thought about titling this Information Overload, but the issue is not simply one of amount - but of access. Whenever I log on to a computer, which is several times a day, on up to three different computers, I start these apps:
  • email - I use Outlook, have it configured to access 4 accounts
  • rss - I use Bloglines, monitor 159 feeds
  • Twitter - following 183
  • Facebook - 115 friends
Four different applications, with Twitter and Facebook at very modest levels of involvement. I get different things from all these of course. I should mention I am on several email lists (Edtech, wwwedu, classblogmeister, ednet, tictech, ahptsa). Then there are the work emails: "All Staff" and "Teachers" lists for my school.

So this is a lot of information, sure. But I have managed it fairly well, until recently. These days, I don't know where to start. The usual sequence was: email, rss, twitter.

Now there is Facebook, and it's #2, right after email. And I am spending a LOT more time there.

I'm sure this happens to people all the time - an infatuation or fascination with the latest application. So now it is Facebook with me, but it feels different from past experiences with other applications. Here are some past "flashes in the pan" of my attention:
There are some obvious reasons for the ascension of Facebook in my Hit Parade.

When I built my network of first 100 or so Friends, it was made up of educators, musicians (related to my wife's career), and local folks.

The RivalsThen somebody brought up my high school rock band from the 60's. One connection led to many others, and all of a sudden I'm making contact with a group of people who are about to have a 40 year reunion. Many of them are new to Facebook. Then there's the rock and roll band scene - on the other side of the country. The lure of that is hard to explain, but it's undeniably strong. I went to school in Manchester, Connecticut - some 2,500 miles away from Seattle, where I have been since '73.

Why is Facebook working for me where other apps fell short? Well, it's a very good aggregator of my work. My Twitter posts appear there automatically. Same for my uploads to Flickr - and posts to this blog. Then there is the the ability to follow the activity of all friends right on Facebook or through Bloglines. Tonight I just had my first chat on Facebook - somebody dinged me. I wasn't even sure how that would work. It was pretty easy, actually. I fully expect to have video chat, skypelike, in the near future (is it already there?).

The other reason it works so well it that it's the current hot social networking application. Can't remember what Clay Shirky had to say about it last year, maybe I need to go back and take a look... Myspace, Diigo, and Nings are great, but their time as a useful tool has come and gone - at least for me.

I will not be surprised if Facebook fades soon and something else comes along to take its place. But for now, it is #2 on my Hit Parade of apps I open whenever I start up one of my computers.

1 comment:

jfriesen said...

I wasn't managing too well before, so now I am totally at a loss! FOUR email addresses!!!! I think I would go crazy.

The other day I was on Facebook browsing and up popped a message from my son who never calls! It was short and sweet, but we communicated!