Balance and social networking

A few of you may remember this post, where I described my experiment with Twitter during ALA and why it didn’t work for me for now.

Since then, I’ve reread some of the posts from people who do find Twitter desirable–both in general and for specific cases (conferences). Reading the conference cases, I recognized one variety of conference-goer, somewhat (or a lot) extroverted with a bunch of acquaintances who they plan to get together with, with at least preliminary plans for most meals, drinks, etc. For them, I suspect Twitter can be a great way to maintain and change plans.

I also recognize that I’m not that kind of conference-goer–never have been and probably never will be. I’m not an extrovert, I don’t make lots of conference-get-together plans in advance, I frequently eat conference meals alone…and I probably wouldn’t want to keep up with lots of people in anything like real time. So it wasn’t just the equipment/service plan and who was signed up; it’s a fundamental mismatch.

Twitter in general? Not that I’m verbose (you can stop laughing any time now), and I used to get off some good brief lines, but “microblogging” at 140 characters a shot just isn’t my thing. And the whole stream of Twitters from a group didn’t work for me either before or after ALA. Again, your mileage may vary.

Still…imagine my surprise to see this post at Library Stuff. Quoting (Steven Cohen is terse, so there’s not much to quote):

I’ve decided not to sign up for Facebook. I don’t want to spend more time online. I spend about 1 hour these days reading feeds and posting to LS and that’s going to be it for me.

Also, I’m probably going to delete my Twitter account. I’m just not cut out for this online social stuff. Priorities, priorities.

Here’s what gets me off: Last Saturday morning. Hallie and I sitting at Starbucks. She’s drinking chocolate milk and I’m enjoying a cafe Americano. We’re talking about camp, ballet, her friends, and her brother. Priceless.

Read that second paragraph again. Do note that this is Steven M. Cohen, the same Cohen who made a point of publicly suggesting that I should be Twittering. (Not just me, to be sure.) (And, in fairness, it’s also the same Steven M. Cohen who later noted that he could see why I’m not on Twitter and wasn’t telling people they should be doing X.)

As I’ve said elsewhere–especially in the LSW Meebo room (yes, I’m still part of that group, now and then–less than in the past, and it’s hard to predict the future, and it really is the people and the clear sense that you’re there or you’re not and there’s no question of “catching up”), balance is boring–I’d probably sell more books and do better in general if I could stake out extreme positions and tout them as Truth. (I understand that Andrew Keen even admitted to writing an unbalanced book so he’d sell more copies, but I don’t have a citation for that.) Being the “library voice of the radical middle” is, well, yawn.

But it’s where I find myself, and where I think most of the action is. I’m not opposed to social networking, but I’m not ready to let it take over my life either–and for me, for now, that means keeping the number of involvements fairly low.

Apparently it’s beginning to work that way for Steven Cohen as well. Such is life.

3 Responses to “Balance and social networking”

  1. Jeff Says:

    It is interesting to see the burnout on the 2.0 stuff. It is just too much information to stay on top of. Much of it is also unnecessary. I was just looking at the Wisconsin library study and saw how little people cared about many of these technology initiatives. Certainly a case for the balanced library.

    You can also refer to balance as “bus driver” management. It may not be interesting, but it is very essential to get the kids to school safe and sound. Nobody notices if you get the kids to school safely every day for your whole life, but they would definitely notice if it didn’t happen.

  2. Steven M. Cohhen Says:

    Thanks Walt. Who knows. Maybe in the future I’ll be back on the Twitter Train (Twitter Twain?).

    But for now, it’s just too much. I think I’ll be content with my decision in a few days, after the shock wears off. Trust me, it wasn’t an easy decision. I’m going to miss Twittering, but it was getting out of hand.

    Balance and priorities are key, IMO.

  3. walt Says:

    Good comments both. (Jeff: I’ve been reading your blog for a few weeks now. Good stuff!)

    I believe in the balanced library and in balanced librarians. But, as I say, that’s not where the money is…and that’s really not surprising.

    (If bus drivers make decent money, it’s because of unions. People in parts of the SF Bay Area are becoming acutely aware of how important some “invisible people”–Teamster garbagemen–really are, now that their employer has taken a “preventative labor action,” namely locked them out.)


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