It’s the time of year when green leaves start to anticipate their plummeting deaths, and I’m thinking about what I’m doing on the web.
During this late summer there’s been a lot of reflection concerning where the web has lurched to by 2016. Martha Burtis reminds us of what the web could have been, and why educators need to embrace that vision. Anil Dash shows how much of the web the world of social media has forgotten or eviscerated (why don’t we have blog search in 2016?).
I’d like to overhaul my web practice in light of their observations. That means shifting as much energy and time as possible to the open web, away from the other venues.
In this post I’m thinking about platforms where my practice is mostly, on the balance, consumption oriented. I do contribute some stuff, depending on the venue, like comments, plusses, likes, and so on. Twitter is about 50-50 production-consumption, so I’ll include it here for now. Same for Google+. Fora where I mostly create – blogging, videoconferencing, Skype – I’ll save for another post.
(Last year I posted about this in terms of media diet. Consider this an update, as things changed.)
Twitter: I rely heavily on Tweetdeck for this, reading on my laptops. Sometimes I have to use my phone’s Twitter client, but I prefer the full dashboard. Which looks like this, if you squint really hard:
As you can see (or barely make out) I rely heavily on the ‘deck’s column feature. A bunch of columns are Twitter lists, each staffed (or stuffed) with feeds on specific topics: professional clients who tweet, entertaining accounts, politics, local (Vermont) news and life, selected education writers, futurists, and digital humanists. There is also a column for my family, as my wife and son tweet.
I also use columns for ongoing searches on specific terms and hashtags. These include #FTTE (both my FTTE report and the Future Trends Forum), #NMCHz (the Horizon Report), #smalltales (a group of short short social media stories), and #latism (Latino politics and culture).
Why these topics? Many are professional. Some are designed to teach me about new topics and perspectives.
What I’m doing next: pruning each list for deadwood. Making sure to link to tweets from other venues.
RSS: The once and future heart of my research work is reading feeds. I used to use Google Reader. Now, after some exploration, I rely on Digg’s Reader for my laptop and desktop work. On mobile I use Feedly, although I dislike it, finding it awkward.
You can see about 40% of my feeds in the screenshot to the right. I’ve
obsessively organized curated feeds into folders over time. They’re broken down by headers: daily reads; feeds for my FTTE report; world news; fun stuff.
As you can see from the tiny numbers next to each folder header, I’ve fallen behind on my feed reading.
What I’m doing next: spending more time on RSS. Making this my first social media zone. Also, adding more comments on other people’s blogs. This is going to mean cuts to other activities.
Would anyone like me to post this as an OPML file?
Facebook (my profile): The weird thing is how Facebook occupies a parallel universe to the rest of my social media work. Well, that’s a slight exaggeration, but most of the people who interact with me there don’t appear anywhere else. Friends from college, from elementary school (seriously), people in Vermont, former students, the occasional relative, people I know through politics: I don’t see them on this blog, or on their own blogs, or on Twitter.
There are some people I know through work, professionally, but they don’t connect with me through other means, except maybe the occasional email. Interestingly, they tend not to talk shop, preferring non-professional topics concerning pets, family, homesteading, politics, and culture.
I push these blog posts over to Facebook, but they rarely elicit responses at all. Is that because my Facebook friends are not interested in my work? Does Facebook hide those posts because …. we have no idea why? When I post about education, beyond sharing this blog’s materials, that also usually meets crickets.
The only exception to this are a few discussion groups, where a handful (<9 people each) comment about the future of education. That’s a pretty minute exception.
What I’m doing next: I haven’t considered quitting Facebook, as some folks have, for two reasons. First, it’s an important research area for me, both in terms of technology in general as well as the social media world. I learn more about it by being within, than observing from afar. Second: Facebook is just too huge. It has way, way too many people for me to avoid in my work as an independent. More than any other platform besides email and YouTube, Facebook is simply where the biggest number of users are. I can’t risk the possibility of losing potential connections to clients and interesting people.
But it can easily take up too much time. For instance, I’m a political junkie, and can’t resist sharing news or poking people with controversies. I also badly, badly, badly miss being in the classroom, so I often pose discussion questions. My Facebook friends actually comment really well. I need to rein this in.
So, to begin with, I’m trimming people who aren’t actually friends. I slid into a habit of following people because they were interesting, or were following me – as if it were the blogosphere. No longer.
I’m also going to shift some content from Facebook to this blog. Probably not politics, since that has few upsides and potential professional costs, but definitely more .edu topics. And perhaps some cultural issues as well.
Overall, I expect to cut down my Facebook time.
Goodreads (my profile): I’ve been throwing my time and energy into this forum because it’s rewarding. I enjoy the conversations I have there, and as a book
fetishist person I love adding to my bookshelves and learning from friends.
However, while it is indexed by Google, Goodreads remains an Amazon property. Which means anything could happen to my content.
What I’m doing next: copying my reviews to this site, where appropriate (education and technology books, yes; Gothic horror, no). I’ll also try to get more airtime on book fiend podcasts like SFFAudio and Reading Envy.
YouTube (my profile): this is a major site for my media consumption these days. Obviously it’s where I find plenty of short videos. I’ve also been watching some longer films here. YouTube is also my leading source for music, much more so than Pandora, Spotify, etc.
It’s as much on the open web as anything from Google. It’s accessible and indexed. I’d like to spend more time on Vimeo, but there’s relatively puny amounts of content there, and I find their player inferior.
What I’m doing next: more of the same.
Podcasts: My listening habit just keeps growing, as I’ve been writing.
I mostly listen via Stitcher on my Android phone, which is the least bad option so far. It buffers too often, has a strange organization scheme, and puts controls millimeters away from the phone’s hard home button, but it’s not as bad as others.
What I’m doing next: first, prepping a page here for my podcasting choices. (Any suggestions?) Second, preferring podcasts with web presences. Those that prefer to live only on iTunes are anti-web
and dead to me. Seriously, iTunes is like a half-dug grave for social media.
Google+ (my profile): I and 12 people still use this, but those 12 people are excellent.
All right, I exaggerate, but G+ isn’t very populated. Yet, seriously, I experience next to no junk content, and enjoy many good conversations.
What I’m doing next: continuing, especially now that I figured out how to make these posts public there.
Google News: Although I check it daily, I spend less time with it than I used to. Despite my careful customization (no sports, no gossip; news for my town, for a string of terms), too many of the results are vague. Too many others are redundant of what I receive elsewhere.
What I’m doing next: hacking it more, and skimming.
Google Alerts: This is a kind of nano-version of Google News, feeding me hits on keywords rather than topics. So far I’ve set it to look for a dozen terms, plus my own name.
What I’m doing next: I’m going to expand this now, since Google News isn’t too useful, and there isn’t a good blog search tool. I just added to it the names of each of my clients, along with terms for several technologies I track.
(Yes, email is social media, the original kind)
LinkedIn (my profile): I’m still not sure what to make of this. I have a detailed profile which I’d honed over time. Do people learn about me from it? Do I receive business contacts I would otherwise have missed? Beyond this dubious marketing and contact aspect, I participate in a few discussion groups, which have low volume, but decent quality.
Verdict: continue for now, since it takes little effort, and people do look at it.
Are there other social media fora I’m missing? I have a Pinterest account, but only use it to occasionally search for house DIY stuff.
Next post: on the social media platforms where I actually contribute content.