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Social Media Roundup

August 8, 2007

179691276_5cc3d4318a I fear that my posts are quickly becoming trite – I either complain about homeland security issues or extol the virtues of social media.  Ah well, better to be the big fish in a little pond and all that, I guess.  We’ll see if we can’t mix things up in the next month.

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

My experiment with Twitter isn’t going well.  While I still haven’t realized the potential benefits, I feel that’s partly my fault.  I’m simply too busy to interact with the community in order to see these potential benefits – and frankly, I’m just too old to update my friends on what I’ve been up to minute to minute.  To that end, I’ve removed the Twitter link from my blog and Facebook profile.  Facebook, however, while not a smashing success, is an increasingly useful networking tool.  I’ve since incorporated it into the “Other” section on my right bar.  Consider the change permanent.  If you haven’t checked out Facebook yet, I encourage you to spend some time checking it out.  If you’ve already got a profile, please add me as a friend.

I wanted to take this opportunity to pass along some links that I’ve found interesting because of our past discussions on using social media in preparedness and response situations, especially where public health and/or preparedness is concerned.

One group of people that have been using Twitter in the manner in which it should be used is the Los Angeles Fire Department.  Their twitterpage can be found here.  Robert Scoble, of Scobleizer, a regular evangelist of bleeding edge social media, alerted his readers of the LAFD Twittering after finding out about them in his comments.  We’ve been the beneficiary of Ike Pigott’s comment, of the American Red Cross, stop by and let us know what they’ve been up to.  You never know what you’ll find in the comments, so stop by and say, “Hi.”

Another site whose feed I read everyday is Web Worker Daily.  The various contributors post on working primarily online (as opposed to in the office), both how to start and how to succeed.  A recent post extolled the benefits of web work when faced with a continuity situation (continuity of operations planning, or COOP, is what all organizations, businesses and governments should be doing just in case), by passing along this great statistic from Federal Computer Weekly:

41 percent [of survey respondents] think that telework is so critical to COOP that all employees should telework occasionally as a form of COOP preparation.

 In places like the Bay Area and Minneapolis, after their respective structure failures, telecommuting, if possible, makes a ton of sense.  Not only is the transportation infrastructure stressed, but some people might need to take care of personal business (read: knowing some of the victims) and can do that easier from home.

Furthermore, in a situation like a pandemic influenza outbreak, social distancing measures will become highly recommended.  If half of the workforce can work from home, isn’t that one of the best forms of social distancing?

Of course, the downside is that when at home, while telecommuting, you’re actually at work.  Many folks report working more hours while telecommuting than they would at work.  It’s certainly a trade-off, but one that might help keep business moving – and like all good plans for disaster, should be practiced regularly.

Finally, I have two items that while seemingly opposed to each other, I feel follow a natural progression.  The folks at Web Worker Daily recently posted a rant about Social Network Fatigue.  Say you take my advice and begin looking into social networks.  You’ve got some business associates on LinkedIn, friends from work on Facebook, you receive Tweets from drinking buddies, Jaiku messages from the folks in IT, and suddenly, you’re overwhelmed.  I’ll be the first to admit that situation is way over the top, and much more than I do.  I’m on Facebook and that’s it (for now).  Sure, I don’t have access to my high school friends on MySpace, or potential business mates on LinkedIn, but it keeps things simple for me.

The real problem with the whole situation is the fractious nature of social networking, not actually networking.  If, as a contributor on LifeHacker.com opines, there was an open social network – something that aggregated all of the work you’ve put into your MySpace layout, Facebook profile, Twitter friends, etc. – think of how useful a tool that might become.  Social networking is a great idea online, but it’s still a very young field and obviously overcrowded with competitors.  Someone can make a lot of money providing an all-inclusive social networking site.  I’m keeping my eye out for you, dear reader, as soon as I see that one perfect tool come along, I’ll let you know.

Photo credit: Biepmiep

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