Sunday, March 29, 2009

Social Networks and the "Porridge Pot"

You all know the folk tale about the porridge pot that perpetually refilled itself until it bubbled over and nearly destroyed the house. I'm coming to believe that social networks are like the porridge pot, perpetually refilling themselves faster than one can keep up until we finally drowned in information.

While developing my manuscript on Web 2.0 tools, I've browsed over 100 "social networks" and joined about ten of the more popular ones as part of the research. I've learned four things: (1) a tighter definition for the essential characteristics of a social network is needed; (2) there are is a lot of redundancy, especially in micro-blogs; (3) you will see the same post on multiple networks, thanks to programs like; and (4) tags and filters help, but there is still too much info coming across my screen.

Is there answer? Well, sort of. The obvious one is don't join so many, be less catholic in my choices, and don't feel obliged to answer every post of interest. Yea, but I might miss something really interesting or important - help I've become an info addict, my cup runneth over and this is not necessarily a blessing in this context.

So, I'm now restricting my intake to posts that can be consolidated through a "social aggregator" of which I have found 21, from the oldest, Profilactic, to the newest (?), Bebo. Oops, too much info again.

Which one is right for me. I found some help at Dan Taylor's weblog - Fabric of Folly, where he reviews 15 social aggregators and includes a useful chart of which social networks each aggregator covers.

I haven't figured out which one is right for me, but I'm leaning toward combo.

More on this this topic later. What's your favorite social aggregator and why?

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