Thursday, September 10, 2009

Social networking, not quite a buzzword

Social networking: not quite a buzzword (buzz phrase?) but it is doing more work than should be expected of any two words, especially two words in such a young relationship. Constant and repeated togetherness can be deadly to linguistic unions. I've seen it before: mission critical, alternative lifestyle, hidden agenda, office effectivity. Office effectivity? It may be hard to believe but it was once such an overworked phrase that it was banned by the unicorn hunters of Lake Superior State University, Michigan.

It is not just the the phrase that's in danger of early extinction; it's the social networks themselves. Do you recall Six Degrees. com? Once employing a 100 people, servicing a million registered members, it was valued at $125 million (U.S.) by YouthStream Media Network who bought it in 2000. YSM soon closed it, and in 2003 sold its patented approach to constructing a networking database for $700 thousand to Reid Hoffman of LinkedIn and Marc Pincus of Tribe.net.

In order to bid on the SixDegrees patent, it was reported that Hoffman and Pincus made an end run around their own social networking friend, Jonathan Abrams of Friendster. Social networking sounds so positive, so friendly but among the gurus of the movement it can be downright cutthroat.

Friendster may be almost off the radar in North America but it is a social networking force in Southeast Asia, and still boasts 105 million profiles worldwide. A quick check shows that there are still Friendster members in my hometown of London, Ontario. One is the heavy metal bank Kittie which is lead by two sisters, Mercedes and Morgan Landers from London. Note that Kittie has both the private profile and the messaging on their Friendster site turned off. Hmmm. Not all that friendly, but certainly wise.

Today, Facebook and Twitter are the big bullies on the social networking block. If you question the word bullies think of MySpace and how it was pummelled. Xanga has taken a bit of a beating, too, I believe.

With so many social networking sites, big and small, there is actually a social network aggregator - Spokeo.com. On their site Spokeo says they, " . . . set out to build search technology to automatically detect online identities associated with emails and URLs . . . " Note that Spokeo has an HR product as part of their Recruiting edition. Be careful what you post on Facebook and other social networking sites. It can come back and bite you.

What does social networking deliver? It's a mixed bag. I could have hundreds of Twitter followers but I block the vast majority. Most are ads and some are porn. I find in the computer world it is important to pick your friends with care. I don't want to pick up a social (networking) disease - a computer virus.

But the few contacts that I have made have had a positive affect on my life. When I expressed and interest in new urbanism a chap appeared out of the fog of the Internet to suggest a book to read. It was an excellent suggestion. And I've learned stuff, I've filled holes in my knowledge by paying attention to the comments elicited by my blogs.

But mainly, I find Twitter a great way to stay abreast of the news. I follow The London Free Press Twitter tweats. Facebook has become very crowded with oodles of suggested friends whom I have never met, never will, and have no desire to meet in either my real or my virtual life. And, I have a hard enough time pairing up real socks without accepting virtual socks on Facebook. A virtual sock?

Yet, it was through Facebook that I reconnected, a fragile reconnection I admit, but still a reconnection with one of my former students. I was then able to reconnect the long lost student with another friend whom we both have in common. I have to admit, all this was kinda cool.

So, if Twitter and Facebook are not my faves when it come to social networking, what is? GroupRecipes.com! This social networking site has a tight focus - food. Ah food, I think about it everyday. At my age, I enjoy it more than sex.

GroupRecipes allows you to search by ingredients or by flavour. Check your pantry and run a search and find dinner. I like this.

Or, click on the folder tabs: new today, popular, active users, and trends. There's a lot that I wouldn't let near my kitchen but there are also gems. Find something that impresses you, click on the cook's name, and if you like a lot of what they have posted, become a follower. In researching this I stumbled upon Midgelet and a recipe for autumn pear pie.

Midgelet may I follow you? Think about your answer. Spokeo may be watching.


  1. K-man: I'm actually going to try the recipe for autumn pear pie, since my old, gnarled, never-pruned Bartlett pear tree has produced a somewhat conservative crop this season — about 30-50 pears. I can never reach the topmost ones because my long ladder isn't quite up to the task and I'm no longer a spring broiler (read "fear of a painful death"). Anyway, with about 20 pears sitting on my dining room table at present, what the hell? I've never made a pie before. My dear old mother would be proud.

  2. Now you've done it. I talked with my wife about the pear pie and she thought it sounded "interesting". I've got to get out a buy some pears and try my hand at pie baking. I'll post a picture. Good luck with yours. (With the main ingredient pears, it can't lose - right?)
    Thanks for the comment,