August 29, 2009
It’s been a long break from blogging. A month’s holiday offline in Australia had something to do with it, but mainly it’s been a summer of thinking about applying online community management to EU policies and programmes; catching up on three months’ worth of For Immediate Release podcasts on my new phone; and exploring and publishing on other channels, particularly Hugh’s site for the IABC and (sigh) Twitter.
More on that later, but I thought I’d kick off with a quick survey of the tools used by those of us interested both in social media and EU affairs. It’s not merely idle curiosity and an interest in picking up useful tricks from others. Such tools are the building blocks of a European public sphere, so it’d make a real difference if most of us use, say, delicious.com, or friendfeed.
Personally, I use the following tools and platforms:
delicious.com: I’ve bookmarked over 1500 pages in the five years or so I’ve been using this wonderful tool and still cannot recommend it enough. I personally use it to tag useful references on everything from Cornish holiday ideas to social media references; track my online conversations; provide RSS feeds into my to-do and (too-oft ignored) blogthis lists; note useful tools, and so on.
Yahoo’s completely vision-less non-development of the social side of delicious is one of my biggest disappointments, because with a few tweaks it’s one of the best ways of crowdsourcing useful web resources. Which is not to say it cannot be done – euforic, for example, has created a resource library of online resources for development professionals using delicious
Blog: Truth be told, for every word I post here I probably write 100 in comments to others and in online communities like Hugh’s. By tagging these conversations using delicious, they all turn up here. I use blogactiv because of the extra coverage you get from EurActiv (disclosure: I was Blogactiv’s Launch Director).
Twitter: I knew before I posted my first sceptical post about Twitter that this blog would chronicle my slow descent into Twitter-induced madness. I checked Twitter out very early, saw a very low signal-to-noise ratio and so ignored it.
When I started noticing people I respected using it, I reluctantly downloaded TwitterFox to my browser (“just to track the useful sites people were recommending”. TwitterBar followed (“just to make it easier to share sites with them – a delicious network would’ve been better, but Yahoo, you know …”).
And now I’m a full-blown TweetDeck user. Sigh. I am, clearly, doomed to not get more than 5 seconds at a time to think. But I draw the line at going on a FollowMe ego binge. Limits are limits.
iGoogle: I basically use this to track a few dozen RSS feeds because I always have a tab open to my Gmail anyway, and can’t be bothered having yet another program just for feeds. It works, and puts a lot of other useful tools (translation, quotes, etc.) at my fingertip.
Friendfeed: I use this to create a my lifestream for piping into the community sites I work in. Last time I checked, it includes a few delicious tagstreams, my tweets, my YouTube favourites, Facebook status, etc.
Facebook: I have the obligatory profile page but I’m not a huge fan. Low S/N for discussions and an absolute ant-colony-on-LSD of third party apps from Hell, although it has it’s uses. God knows what will happen to Friendfeed now that FB has bought them. Shudder.
LinkedIn: Like a lot of people I migrated my CV to LinkedIn many years ago when I was looking for work, and never actually used its ‘please introduce me’ systems, which were the site’s original basis. I only really started using LinkedIn when they introduced Groups. They got that pretty much right. I much prefer the conversations in my LI-groups than the dross on Facebook. I’m a member of around 20, and contribute actively to 4 or 5.
There are probably three of four more, but if I can’t remember them at the moment it must be because they’re not that important. I certainly could use some consolidation.
So what’s in your toolbox? How do you use them? Could we get more out of them by hooking them together?
Please share, either via the comments or on your own blog (add the link in comments).Mathew Lowry