A hearty welcome to the dozens of new subscribers to my blog and new followers of my Twitter micro-blog, thanks in part to both Darren Rowse and his ProBlogger Social Media Love-In and Liz Strauss and her pending Blog-to-Show.
To existing readers, hi again and thanks for engaging with me about life and politics, and my passions and pursuits on society and culture.
Referencing recent posts of mine about the brave new world of blogging, companies that fear the web, and Barack Obama’s and John McCain’s technology roadmaps; I am focusing this piece on the relevance of social networking and why you are already involved even if you think you are not.
I’d like to start the dialogue with a question.
Do you own a cell phone?
How long have you owned a cell phone? Why did you initially buy one? Have your goals changed over the amount of time you’ve used it?
Despite several friends of mine who have not joined the cellular bandwagon, I’m willing to hazard a guess that if you have a cell phone it’s because you used to be accessible via a traditional “land line” phone but wanted to reach out and call someone when you were out of your house. Or maybe you wanted your mother or friend or boss to reach you wherever you were.
Am I close?
You don’t answer the phone every time it rings, do you? You use voice mail for that, not unlike a land line’s answering machine.
How many times do you disembark from an airplane, walk from the tarmac or gate into the airport terminal and immediately turn on your phone to check for any messages? How often do you notice seemingly everyone else doing the same thing?
Maybe talking to a person is not enough but you also send text messages to people, short bursts of characters (not unlike Twitter messages, for that matter) to people you care about and want to communicate with on the fly while you’re sitting at some lecture and your friend is in class.
Maybe you don’t text, but you know about it, right?
Is your cell phone capable of taking pictures with a built-in camera which you then send as a data message to a friend, upload to a website, or set as “wall paper” which you show to everyone?
As an attorney, banker, software engineer, or other working professional, are you attached to the hip with a BlackBerry, an iPhone, or a PalmPilot with GPS technology that you take everywhere even when on vacation and at family barbecues?
Forget the technology for a moment and think about what it all means. You’re connecting to other people. You’re being social and networking with peers, colleagues, and friends. You’re a de facto ambassador and evangelist of social networking.
Raise your hand if you never heard of eBay.
I’m not asking if you use it. My grandmother never used eBay but she knows of its power and purpose. She read stories about its corporate success and marketability. What about you?
eBay was launched September 3, 1995 as an online auction website, enabling anyone in the world to sign up for a free account, list items for sale and watch people bid on them. A virtual auction house, if you will.
My eBay profile indicates I opened an account on January 15, 1999 around the time I built a home computer and bought most of the components from global users. eBay has in place a rating system, whereby buyers and sellers can “grade” each other based upon external elements such as ease of transaction, promptness of shipping, quality of packaging, etc.
You probably know some of this already, right?
Maybe you don’t have an account on Facebook, MySpace, Friendster, LinkedIn, or Bebo, but you probably heard of some, if not all, of these corporate names and have an idea what the websites are all about.
Maybe you’ve never rated products or written reviews on Amazon, bought or sold items off eBay, or found jobs or apartments or casual encounters on Craigslist, but you probably read of these corporate names in the mainstream media or heard about them from friends or family and also have an idea as to their purpose and success.
Stop me if I’m going too fast.
Have you heard of Ray Matthews?
Until a few hours ago, I never heard of the guy either. After reading the following, you may wish you also found him earlier.
Ray is a government information coordinator for the Utah State Library. As a librarian, he understands the power of peer-to-peer networks, instant messaging, social networks, syndication tools, and work environments that support collaboration and productivity.
I bring him up in relation to a November 2004 blog post he wrote about social networks in his then-capacity as editor of RSS in Government.
Ray writes about Jesus which does nothing for me but he brings up a valuable lesson everyone should take heart to: social networking is framed by the church’s community of believers and the U.S. Constitution’s embrace of We the people.
He writes about the importance of social networking through talking and acting. He discusses the importance of social networking in a way not unlike some use it to transform social action and others use it to rebuild New Orleans.
Ray challenges you to change the world:
Social networking facilitates real-world and online conversations. Each of these technologies helps us bridge the six degrees of separation in finding others with similar goals and interests. We just need to apply this knowledge to loftier purposes. It’s high time we used what we know for a higher purpose than dating, deal making, and job hunting. How about world peace? Maybe that generation of Miss America contestants had it right after all.
I’ll call this repurposing of social networking the “Good News Network.” The Good News Network needs no place, no d
omain, no trademark, no sponsors. It needs only open access and to be built on standards — standards to converse one language with another and standards to programmatically exchange information. It consists of you and I, our friends, friends of friends, and those yet to be brought into our circle of friendship.
The Good News Network has two functions: to promote conversation and action. We converse by sharing the good news, our faith, and our belief in the goodness of humanity. And we act. We act in small ways, in big ways, but always in individual and personal ways, to share the good news of universality and peace and to promote well-being.
We speak multitudes of languages, we live in diverse regions of the globe, and we comprise all races and nationalities. In this day and age that is unique in history, we can all converse, we can join a global conversation, and we can meet in the virtual living room or the virtual temple of our choice.
So back to the age old question, how do you change the world?
Start by entering the conversation. In your blogs, in your chat rooms, in your networks, in your music, in your poems, in your art, in your families, and in your communities — tell your story. Let your voice be heard. Sign on in whatever way makes sense to you in order to make a difference. As the marketers say, create a buzz. In the sense of paying it forward, start something in your own way and in your own voice. Start a conversation that will spread, that will continue, that will penetrate the hearts and minds of the power brokers. Those in high places will join us. They will, as Saul of old, see the vision and join the conversation. Perhaps in fulfillment of ancient prophecy, those with ears to hear will find each other, and they who are confused will recognize the voice.
Ray didn’t know it at the time (or maybe he did) but he was writing about Web 2.0. He was evangelizing the power of eBay, Amazon, Craigslist, and Facebook — online communities for different purposes but with the common element of talking and acting with each other, no different than you or me, rating products and writing reviews, engaging in transactional commerce or conversation, and sharing knowledge.
It doesn’t matter if you don’t understand the technology as long as you know of it, no different than knowing of eBay even if you don’t use it.
What do you think?
If I resonated any emotions or thoughts, I’d love to hear them.
You can click the relevant link below to post a comment; or, alternatively, you may wish to share this with your peers, colleagues, or friends by clicking the below “Bookmark” icon to connect to your favorite social media tool.