Evolving meaning of ‘social networking’

The term social networking is evolving in meaning for me. I use to think that social networking meant primarily using social media sites like Facebook or Myspace. Now I am gaining some perspective on how the ‘social’ aspect of Web 2.0 can contribute to my own learning via various web connected network opportunities. The potential seems enormous. The challenge does seem to be sorting out value from the extensive content… And this is where social bookmarking seems to offer a new opportunity for me to explore.

Mark that place in the digital ocean

I had heard of delicious.com, but never really used it and was not aware of what if really offered. I’m still exploring. For the past week or so, I have used it and am considering that it is a new tool in my web 2.0 toolkit. Right now I am using it for my own personal recording of web sites/resources in a few different ares of interest. I have also used it several times in a search capacity. I found the results interesting. It will be interesting to explore an alternative to google search. I like the idea that there is a human element of selection in the equation, rather than purely a numbers game as defined by google or yahoo’s algorithm.

Tag, you’re it…

In many ways these new tools resemble blogs stripped down to the bare essentials. Here the essential unit of information is a link, not a story – but a link decorated with a title, a description, tags and perhaps even personal recommendation points. It is still uncertain whether tagging will take off in the way that blogging has. And even if it does, nobody yet knows exactly what it will achieve or where it will go – but the road ahead beckons. [Hammond, et al.]

[Web 2.0 bag tags]

I think one of the challenges for me about using social bookmarking was that it’s just a link with little reference besides a tag. And the whole tagging phenomena was not something I was familiar with in the web context. Tagging is new for me. Yes, I’ve used it a bit on my blog, but I didn’t really have much of a sense of it’s value. I’m gaining some new perspective on tagging just in my one week’s use of delicious. I think the concept of tagging may be one of the challenges for many people to use some of the social bookmarking tools available. I would say that I agree with the second reason that Jon Udell gives as to why social bookmarking has not caught on like blogs or other web 2.0 tools.

Collaborative annotation

Collaborative annotation is another new tool for me. I’ve opened a Diigo account and played with it a bit. I can see collaborative annotation could be really useful in any kind of group or team work. The idea that you can annotate text as a group seems powerful.

Learning curves and web 2.0

One thing that strikes me with the web 2.0 technology is the learning curve involved. As in any technology, I find that I have a learning curve before I can really say that I am an adept user. It used to be that I was most conscious of that when I installed new software on my computer. I might say to myself, ‘oh, here goes again. another new tool. How much am I going to use this? How much time will it take for me to be really able to use this effectively?’ There are many applications that I have installed with an interest to use, but never really moved past the steep part of the learning curve to the point of comfort and capability. Some of those applications I still have on my computer, but they are somewhere out of sight in my application menu. Others I found enough interest and invested enought time to have integrated into my portfolio of tools. Some of the installed applications I have since delete.

Searching the desert sands…

Filtering the many grains of web 2.0 sand…

With Web 2.0 I no longer have to download any applications. I just have to register by giving my email, logon, and a password. The applications are all online. But that doesn’t eliminate the learning curve piece of the equation. There is still an effort to gain familiarity and competence before I can say that I am a user and then actually use one of these tools regularly. For me this speaks to the issue that some of the social bookmarking/annotation sites address, how to filter the vast ocean of content/potential that might be lying behind the three letters www… Will I find some silver, gold, or a jewel somewhere in that ocean or amongst the many grains of web 2.0 sand???


5 Responses to “Evolving meaning of ‘social networking’”

  1. 1 michelle 4 October 2010 at 10:46 am

    Great analogy and so true, filtering the grains of sand. The tools that filter and allow us to manage information let me find pieces of gold. I made a http://www.netvibes.com page and I love it!

  2. 2 Jonathan West 4 October 2010 at 11:57 am

    Michelle, I find a few specks of gold here and there, too. I think sometimes I find some fools gold too! I have a netvibes acct too and really find it useful. I’ve set up a couple of the dashboards on different topics of interest. It’s cool how stuff just get fed right in, eh?

  3. 3 Jinnee 6 October 2010 at 1:40 pm


    I am not sure if social bookmarking can be an alternative to Google. I think that many sources by social bookmarking are from Google but I agree that social bookmarking has a more qulified filter rather than Google. You have a good point about a tag. Taggs help to find right materials but it is still hard to find the sources with tags when I want to have some right ones.

  4. 4 Jeff Nugent 6 October 2010 at 1:46 pm

    Interesting post here, Jonathan. I was particularly interested in your changing ideas of what social networking means…you seem to be changing your role to a participant on the web. Curious what you think about what a collection of “live nodes” on the web could do when they bond together into groups or small communities to share ideas or develop something together. And then further…what might the impact of this be on your view of adult education?

    • 5 Jonathan West 13 October 2010 at 8:44 am

      Yes, I do believe I am changing how I participate in the web. I am beginning to see it less daunting and more of a source of experience and perspective that can well be enriching. I haven’t thought of my new web learning experience as being a collection of ‘live nodes’, but that does convey a sense of it. The community piece is one that one needs to work to establish, but is that any different from any connected, vibrant community offline?

      As far as how my new experience impacts my view of adult learning, I think that view is expanding and perhaps becoming more integrated to some of the realities of the global, connected world. One thing I can say is that I have a much greater sense of the potential learning environment that digital media and the net provides. The possibility to access relevant personal learning connections or nodes and participate in dialogue is out filtering through what I often considered the murky waters of the worldwide web.

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