Social networking has blossomed with a vengeance -- and I intended to mix that metaphor with the beautiful and soothing image of a blossom and the harsh, violent image of vengeance. I feel both pleased and overwhelmed with social networking.
I started out on LiveJournal, and I do not know anyone who is actively using it nowadays. I have not touched my LiveJournal in a few years. Then I migrated to Facebook, and still visit that site fairly often. It is a place to keep up with my family, as several relatives -- an elderly aunt, my cousins, my nephew, among others -- are all on Facebook.
A classmate at the University of North Florida then invited me to join Hi5, which is popular in Latin American countries (he and I are both interested in Spanish colonial history, and he has moved on to a Ph.D. program in North Carolina). So I did that -- just for him. But I have not visited that account in ages.
Then came Twitter, with its instant, on-the-moment updates, which can easily get out of hand. I'm sure nobody would be interested in hearing that I am grabbing a slice at Mellow Mushroom as I zoom through a day. But Twitter has its uses, especially to professionals in their fields, for such things as announcing a new blog post or a new book, both of which I have found to be good uses for Twitter.
And you can follow some interesting people on Twitter, such as George Takei, Roger Ebert, or the Dalai Lama. Yes, the Dalai Lama tweets! Isn't this a great world?
Then just a few weeks ago, came the beta version of Google+, and everyone climbed aboard. I managed to get in, and have found it interesting. Just yesterday (Monday), I attended a webinar held by Paul Allen, Dan Lynch, and Mark Olsen, in which they discussed uses of Google+ for genealogy. Google+ is growing by leaps and bounds, as shown by statistics posted by Paul Allen showing that Google+ hit ten million users in 16 days, whereas Facebook and Twitter took a few years to reach that level. Allen kept saying that they had not even begun advertising and promoting Google+ yet, as it is still at the beta stage. They haven't "officially" advertised or promoted it yet, but somehow there got to be a big buzz about it. Clever.
Now I have had in the past couple months two invitations to join LinkedIn. I resisted at first, but finally caved in. One thing I immediately see in LinkedIn that I do not find so readily in Facebook or Google+ is how locally-oriented LinkedIn is. Everywhere there are groups and other features focused on the Jacksonville, Florida area (I live just outside of Jacksonville, in another county, outside a small unincorporated bump in the road). This has several advantages. I like that emphasis quite a bit.
But . . . This is an awful lot to keep track of! It gets a bit tedious, for instance, to post here in my blog, then I go to bit.ly, the URL shortener, to post the URL for the day's blog entry on Twitter. Now I also will be posting the link on Google+ and LinkedIn (and should even put it on Facebook -- I'd like for my family to read my blog).
When you are my age, and thereby a little slower, and have reading and papers and classes and more papers, that gets to taking up a fair chunk of time. So I'm waiting for the day when some bright kid designs and puts onto the web the METAsocial network site, where all the others -- one's blog, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ -- can be read and posted to all at once. Now, that will save some time!