I’ve been experimenting with Facebook, with Twitter, with blogging on this site and on my Eastern Shore Stories site. I’m forming opinions about how to use them effectively and how they differ as publishing platforms. Because that’s what they are – using written communication with photos/scans/videos salted in – personal publishing platforms for anyone who has a computer and access to the internet. Publishing has never been easier.
I didn’t expect to enjoy Facebook, but I really do and I’ve decided to keep my Facebook page a personal blog / family & friend focused communication vehicle. That means my goal is not to have thousands of friends nor to use it as a marketing vehicle, but to enjoy the freedom of connecting and reconnecting with people who are friends and family. I love the interaction, the photo albums, the randomness.
Twitter still seems like an odd bird to me … and I thought that the Cool Librarian’s blog about what teenagers in her library are saying about Facebook, Twitter, blogging made sense.
Here’s an excerpt from her April 18 2009 entry:
We were talking about advertising the next teen movie on Facebook – which works well for reaching the high school kids, but is not as effective at reaching the middle school kids – and I asked how I could get more kids to read the Teen page of the (new) library website. The answer: “We don’t look at websites. Kids do Facebook, and that’s about it. We’ll Google if we have to for a school paper, and maybe check out Wikipedia, but, really, don’t bother with the teen page.”
Now, I’m not sure how surprised I was by that. One look at my stats tells me that no one looks at the teen page that I slaved away on for days – in spite of all the PR I have done – but I guess I was surprised to learn that high school students don’t seem interested in surfing the web at all (gaming sites not withstanding). Oooookaaayyy….
“So, I was thinking of having a workshop on blogging – would there be any interest in that?”
“Nah, we say everything we need to say on Facebook.”
“Ok, what about Twitter?”
“Twitter is for old people. My mom is on Twitter. Which is cool, I guess, because I didn’t know she even knew what Twitter is, but really, what’s the point of Twitter?”
Well, I can’t fault this question, since many people find no use for Twitter, and those that do are usually connected to a network of other like-minded adults. But again, I guess I was just surprised by the total lack of interest.
This conversation nailed it, I think … websites are for information … they’re static and, unless something like a blog is happening there, why would I return once I’ve got the information I need. I say most of what I want to say about my private and family life on Facebook, but, as a writer, find I need more space, so I blog. This blog is also where I explore my professional interests in more depth than I ever will on Facebook.
Twitter is good if you want to stay current in a fast-moving field or if you’re trying to communicate during a revolution, but how plugged in do most people need or want to be? I went to a Social Media meeting at VCU – they had a huge screen set up behind the panel and published the tweets in real time while people were speaking. It was distracting, slightly bizarre, and cool all at the same time. People in the audience were tweeting about the event while we were in the event and those of us in the event were reading the tweets, usually at the expense of the presentation.
I have to tweet as part of my GTA appointment in communications, but I do wonder about our audience, about what we have to say that’s worth anyone’s time. This morning I tweeted about today’s deadline to withdraw from a class … an important deadline for undergrads, especially. So that’s a public service. It only works if we’re being followed, however, which takes something more interesting than bureaucratic deadlines.
Blogging is more interesting to me than tweeting. Maybe it’s just that haiku has never been a strength of mine and that 140 characters forces the English language into strange mutations. In a blog I can ramble on … just like I’m doing now.
My Eastern Shore Stories blog is a very different animal – it’s an occasional blog with interview excerpts and historical photos, reflective of the project. I want to be able to blog for months, at least through the lecture that’s scheduled in April, posting only one entry per interview even though they’re hours long – so I’m only posting a new entry every two weeks. The challenge is to add an rss feed or some way for people to follow it easily – some means beyond a bookmark. I think I’m going to set up a separate Facebook Fan page for the project and publicize it on the blog so that I can post to the Fan page whenever there’s a new entry.
With my personal entries on Facebook I know people are listening and I even know who they are, so conversations will and do happen. I haven’t seen that happen much on blogs unless it’s a celebrity blog or a blog where the blogger is shooting for controversy … sort of pulling a “Rush” if you will. That’s not my style. I’m a quiet blogger. My husband tells me it’s hard to leave a comment on this blog, too … told me months ago that I should “get that fixed.” I’ve done nothing because I don’t know how to fix it … it may be a weakness of this particular blog interface.
Being in a PhD program with a strong digital media focus has certainly forced me to ask questions I wouldn’t have asked otherwise … go places I wouldn’t have otherwise gone … all good. And now it’s time to finish my last book for PAPR 591 (a grad seminar in bookmaking). Time to get out the glue and the fabric and the transfer material and make something by hand. Time to unplug.