Networks are now so obvious. In the long ago past – about 1997 – we carried our networks around in our heads, diaries and phone books or club memberships. Sometimes other people may have had a better idea of our networks than we did – like your wife, parents or secretary, but that’s no longer the case.
I’m still understanding Google+ and not because it is so complicated but because I wonder at my investment. I jumped on LinkedIN and Twitter quite early on because, in both cases, I saw immediate personal utility. The ‘network’ aspect offered an interesting side benefit. In the case of twitter, while I enjoy my use of the service, which I would describe as a cross between delicious tagging and news broadcasting, I remain dissatisfied that I only have limited control over my networks. In contrast, other networks, in particular Facebook, have been failures for me perhaps because I am either uneasy mingling my networks or haven’t found a utility that solves a problem (at least for me). What is clear to me, is that investing in the application is critical to maximize any benefit and, this is where my problem presents itself. How many of these networks can you maintain properly without becoming dissatisfied, frustrated or under-whelmed? And underwhelming to others?
One of the odd things about Google+ has been the amount of people who have added me to their circles when I have no idea who they are. Some of this may have to do with the pseudonym issue: On other networks such as twitter they might use a handle other than their real name. What is the etiquette here? Am I supposed to add all of these people? At least with LinkedIn you have an ability to ask the person where they know you from before you add them to your network. Maybe I should have a circle tagged “anonymous” or “unknown”. Some, perhaps many of these ‘contacts’ may be readers of this blog which has a wide distribution via RSS. Unfortunately, I have no insight into my RSS population other than a subscriber number and the knowledge the number increases every week. I really wish I knew who these people were.
Recently, I went through the exercise of matching my outlook contacts, LinkedIN, twitter and Flickr networks. It was a curious exercise. I have approximately 2,000 contacts in my outlook address book. About 50% of these were not found/matched in LinkedIn. This was particularly surprising to me since both contact lists are ostensibly ‘business’ related and therefore inherently linked. In my small use case, the exercise may also indicate that LinkedIn could have a lot of upside. Of the matches in twitter, I could only find about 20% of my contacts had twitter accounts. In the case of Flickr – which I use a lot – of my 2,000 outlook contacts less than 20 had Flickr accounts and in most of these cases the accounts were basically dormant. In the case of the latter two networks, it is likely that many people are not using their business email to register with all networks. This complicates an exercise like the one I went through. LinkedIn has tried to address this by allowing more than one email address; however, I don’t see this as an effective mechanism. (It works functionally but not in a practical sense for the users).
Which brings me back to Google+. There are some features of the service which will be useful but I will need to invest time to understand and make use of it. In the meantime, I continue to manage my other networks as best as I can. Please join me but don’t be shy about introducing yourself.
Here are my networks:
I have no idea what to do with Tumblr.