Thursday, May 29, 2008

Misadventures in social networking

My one previous foray into social networking sites was LinkedIn. During one of MLNM's scythe-to-the-workforce exercises folks started setting up the sites, and it seemed like a good idea. Growth was slow at first -- which was fine by me as I've set a personal rule only to link to people I can actually remember interacting with. I also tended to only link to those already possessing accounts; little proselytizing for me. At one point though, I invited one person in just so I'd have one link with nothing to do with MLNM. However, Miss Amanda has shown no interest -- I suppose she won't until digital scent technology picks up)

Over time my network has grown & I have found the tool useful. For one, it's a way to keep connected to folks even as email addresses go dead due to job moves or internet provider changes. However, it's hardly foolproof there -- too often someone's LinkedIn account still points at the old email address. There's the related problem of someone having multiple accounts, having lost their access to one because it points to a defunct email. At least the last time I looked, LinkedIn's interface made it hard to distinguish them when you're trying to delete one -- you just see the person's name.

I also found it useful during my post-MLNM job search to scout out a company -- who do I know at company X?

Purely social sites such as MySpace don't have much appeal to me, but particularly in the past year I've gotten exposed to other sites -- usually by someone inviting me in. For example, SciLink is run out of Boston and the founder is a friend-of-a-friend, so we've actually met. This site starts building your network off your publications, a clever trick (though it does make me glad I'm not a John Smith).

For whatever reason, this morning I decided to check out some of those other invites that have been enjoying benign neglect in my email box. One thought was to get some minor fodder for this page. I uncovered the invite for Spock and also one for Doostang and thought about polishing up my SciLink entry.

For whatever reason, I picked Doostang first. Why I don't know. I sure don't understand the name. My quick associations to it are Durmstrang, boomslang & doofus. -- not good associations (I'm more of a Hogwarts partisan & I care not to meet a boomslang up close). But, what's the harm?

So I followed the link someone sent me & set up an account. Wrote up some skeleton information about my days of being blue & crimson and my job experience.

Now most of the sites have some feature to mine your email addresses for possible links. In keeping with past practice, I thought I'd use this to find others already on the site and try to link to them. Yep, just invite them, that's the plan.

The first inkling of disaster came when I got an email. From myself. Inviting me to Doostang. Actually, it wasn't addressed to me -- but to a Boston area informatics mailing list. OOOPS! Major social faux pas.

Then another email. From myself. This time to a company mailing list. Luckily, my colleagues had a sense of humor about it.

Then I check my email box: people are responding fast-and-furious. One person asks if my invite is spam -- hmmm, not quite sure how to answer that. Several are long lost colleagues, relatives & friends -- okay, that's a good thing. Many had nice things to say such as "thank's for thinking of me" -- I'm getting some social credit I probably didn't really earn.

Another is someone who's email address is a simple mutation away from my own -- people misaddress mail to me there. Nice to meet my not-quite-doppelganger, but pretty strange. Wierder is my inadvertant attempt to cozy up with by good buddies at subscriptions (at) nature.com -- yeah, they'll love me there!

Luckily, I've gotten out of the habit of debating science with crypto-creationists and have restrained myself from e-arguing with the staff right-winger at the Glob. Who knows how many Nigerian finance whizzes & providers of lists of MDs I'm now linked to! I probably should check my account to see what unsavory types I'm now e-collegial with. Please, no emails inviting me to join a network at www.MadeMan.com!

Well, the damage is done. I'll go easy on Spock & probably just return my invite to Meri Jeevan Kahani linger -- at least until I clear out all those messages from Doostang! I've always been aware I can be a bit socially awkward in real settings; now I get to bring that talent to the instant world of the Internet!

1 comment:

Dexrex said...

I found social networking as a tool which had been primarily designed for social interaction and sharing. You can gain lots of friends and build reputation over the net.
Social networks are clearly a platform that many corporations use to tighten and build employees relationships to be stronger.