What have I actually learned about social networking (after much lost sleep)?

Dr's Russo and Kelly, courtesy of Shelley Bernstein

Dr's Russo and Kelly, courtesy of Shelley Bernstein

By Lynda Kelly

This is the final post in the series about my online life. If you are new to this you may want to check out post one and two before you go on...

OK, just to take a reality check at what actual social networking sites am I on. To date there’s Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, Wordpress, ning, LinkedIn, Flickr, YouTube, SlideShare, del.icio.us, wikispaces and ExhibitFiles, as well as contributing to a range of sites such as the Connected Republic and the Australian Museum Eureka Prizes sustainability blog. Seems a lot, but I do actively use them all for a range of purposes and dip in and out as my needs change. Once I accepted that was OK I don’t worry so much about keeping these up-to-date and just go with the flow.

Being in these spaces have led me to the following thoughts:

  • Our professional and personal lives are blurring thanks to sites like Facebook and Twitter – this might be challenging and a bit scary, but is really exciting
  • Using the web successfully is all about your outlook on life, not how old you are
  • You develop much richer personal relationships (especially with your family and close work colleagues) through using social networking sites
  • Building an online community takes time and patience (and late nights/early mornings) but is totally worth the effort as you realise how many generous, wonderful people are out there
  • Stress less about keeping up-to-date with web developments – as long as someone in your organisation is out there leading the charge you’re better off keeping an open mind, following their lead and trusting their judgement
  • Join Museum 3.0 – it’s a great space to stay informed
  • The web is crazy, fun, frustrating and, at times, bemusing. My advice? Don’t try to understand it, just embrace it!

What final confession does this 5am blogger/midnight social networker need to make? Well, I don’t need to blog at 5am anymore (although I do still occasionally like the late nite Facebook frenzy!). Social networks are here to stay and I have decided to mainstream them into my working life. Once I accepted the fact that activities such as uploading fotos to Facebook fan pages, writing blog posts, Twittering links and ideas to colleagues and answering queries on Museum 3.0 are all legitimate work practices I’m getting more sleep (well, actually I’m not but instead of writing a 5am blog post as I would have in the past it’s a 5.30am walk around the park – much better methinks!).

Thanks James and co for the opportunity to reflect on the wonderful world of social networks. I’ll leave you with one of my life’s philosophies that has worked well for me – just do it and apologise later.



Our professional and personal lives are blurring

I find this aspect especially challenging as a young person who is guilty of many a late, raucous night on the turps with incriminating photos to prove it! It can be quite intensive and nerve-racking managing my online footprint to try and eliminate potential future challenges to my professional standing.

But it hasn't scared me off and I love contributing to online social sites and networks such as Museum 3.0 and their value is both fulfilling on a personal and professional level and tangible in terms of opportunities that have arisen out of networking.

I am particularly loving following a number of museums on Twitter!

Thanks for this Lynda! Great to hear that you're walking at 5.30 instead of blogging!!
You make a very important (among many) point about trusting the people you work with... In many ways, the development of a network is also the articulation of particular skills and experiences. I know that I value the contributions that members make to the Museum3.0 network and increasingly, I'm looking for ways of partnering with some of the most active members - because I can see their professsionalism right there on the page!
Social media is increasingly working to introduce me to engaged, articulate, smart people who I want to partner with!
I agree that it is time we recognise this form of communication as intrinsic to our job. I've worked out that the ning site takes me about 6 hours a week to tend to so now that's gone into my performance development plan. The trick will be to convert this time into outcomes that can be 'counted' for various bodies ie: granting bodies, promotion committees, faculty committees etc.
Thanks again for your thoughts! Look forward to hearing from others.

I don't know if I'm seeing it everywhere now that I've noticed it, but to me your post is another signifier of a new maturity in approach to social media, Web 2.0, whatever it's called. The technology fades from notice, and it becomes all about communication again.

Thanks for your feedback. I agree Mia that the web is about communication again and about connections, whether they be direct or indirect. I believe that the six degrees of separation are rapidly compressing...

Good post Lynda and I agree with Mia's observation. I am a tad busy learning about academia to post much on my blog at present, but keep my network(s) up-to-date (roughly) using FB & Twitter.
I am encouraging the UTS Library to go-live soon with FB & Twitter, so your post is another useful link for me to add to that debate too!
Maybe a stronger connection or linkage between the social networks you quoted above and some "cloud" things like Google Apps & Widgets (eg. Reader & perhaps our catalogue widget?) is next?

Thanks for your post Mal and great to see you finally in Sydney. Look forward to catching up.

I think whoever develops the next killer app to help us organise all our social networks will be on to something. There's probably something out there already but I haven't come across it and don't have the time to look!

I recall attending a talk by Stephen Heppell a few years ago who gave a really thought-provoking paper about future net apps. He talked about the idea of threading and annnotating content as you go (tagging I guess, but for yourself) and as ways to make connections with those of similar interests and have some tangible record of your pathways as you navigate the net. I blogged about that here (scroll down the page a bit). I think there may be something there.

As to Ames' comment on blurring of the boundaries - this is a big issue that people must get their heads around. Future employers (and even lovers!) will Google and Facebook search everyone as a matter of course, so you do really need to be careful. On our new website we can add our Facebook details and Twitter name but then what does this mean in terms of us 'representing' the Museum in these spaces. A dilemma yes, but not an excuse to not engage in these spaces.

When I visited Taipei last November I received some rather puzzled looks and bemused questions as they had seen Facebook fotos of me at a particular party dressed as nun ... but let's not go there!

A dilemma yes, but not an excuse to not engage in these spaces.

Absolutely. I try to look at it in a positive light in that I have even more reason to be careful of what I put online in the first place in my personal social networking presence. So I kind of censor myself in my personal communications to try and eliminate any potential repercussions in my professional social networks. I see this as a good thing, a reason to think twice before I post anything. But I still manage to have a very active and wide online presence both professionally and personally. I think we should all be mindful of the personal information we put in public online spaces (especially as a young person with a colourful social life!)

But there is a lot to be said for just throwing yourself into it and making a few little mistakes in the beginning that you can then iron out once you a familiar with online spaces. I am personally quite thrilled and inspired by the museum professionals who have embraced technology and encourage participation in professional social media spaces, particularly those who are from a different generation who have to put in the extra effort to turn something that can initially be quite foreign into something familiar and, most importantly, fun!

fun is good!!

Also thanks Iggy for your feedback. I have been inspired by your book Connection Generation and recommend it as a good read - as the blurb says "Connection Generation is How connection determines our place in society and business". Iggy also talks about finding a purpose for these tools, which is what we discussed in the last post.

Fun IS good! And it is such a welcome change to be actually doing something online both social and constructive instead of wasting my life away on frivolous internet distractions.

Hah, hah frivolity is good too you know! Just had a shower thought this morning regarding managing several socila sites.To me it's about repurpoaonh content and making fleet use of the cut and paste function. I guess e lesson is write once, post to many which is how I've been circulating this blog.

To illustrate I wrote all three posts in word, cut and pasted it here, added link to my facebook page, tweeted it, added to James's post on Museum 3.0 and emailed it to some people too (as well as to all members of 3.0 but that was accidental!).

One final thing is that I've become more relaxed about spelling - perpetual beta is my motto now!

Umm, final lesson before I get off this blog - don't write long blog posts on an iPhone in the train, especially when you don't get a seat!

The sentence above should read: To me it’s about re-purposing content and making clever use of the cut and paste function.

Now I will leave you all alone!

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