Fitting the web into your life (and not your life into the web)

Posted on 22/01/2011



we fit together

(Courtesy Obahu)

Channel confusion can really get in the way of living. Believe it or not, the internet wasn’t created to make our lives more confusing . Even the most basic things, like getting in touch with someone your own age is now a mission, because we’ve got too many ways to communicate. Curiously, it’s my grandparents who are the easiest people to contact – there’s a 70% chance they’ll be in during the day and they ALWAYS answer their phone. Go them!

So it’s not just companies that struggle to manage their online relationships and presence. Many “real people” (companies are made of real people too) do as well. What about that blog that you started last summer but never got round to updating? When was the last time you made used your Flickr account and actually showed someone those photos hidden on your memory stick? I imagine a lot of people don’t think too much about this, which is fair enough. These things shouldn’t stop your daily life but, increasingly they are your daily life. As with all things (love, work, play, exercise) you’ve got to balance the amount of time you’re willing to spend on one with the amount you want to achieve, or in this case: share.

There’s a lot to read and say online, and about a million ways to say it. With new sites (Kiltr anyone?) constantly reformatting how we share and socialise, it’s easy to spread yourself too thin between too many networks. But there are a few solutions:

1. Be more active on fewer sites. I’m always trying out the next new site, because creating profiles costs nothing but it distracts from staying connected to my old networks. It’s a bit like abandoning your old friends for newer, more trendy ones. I’d like to think I’m not that fickle.

Beurréed'nièr beurre black butter on bread

(Courtesy Jerzzy)

2. As my old friend J-dawg put it: 

“Choice paralysis over communication media is a problem, though the problem is minimized when one is aware of the particular media preference of the recipient.”

Being a sheep makes sense. Join with the chorus of “baaa’s” because, believe me, the internet is a lonely place without people.

(Courtesy National Library NZ on The Commons)

3. (This is my own.) Networks, even at this early stage in their evolution, are used in certain ways. Slowly, we’re forming an online etiquette, or “netiquette” as to how we use these and how public we make our lives. We can divide our friends and contacts between networks. It’s about using the right network for the audience and the right tool for the job. Put another way, would you add your boss on Facebook? No, I thought not.

(Courtesy Colour-junki)

I’m working on a few different ways of dividing how I use these networks. As ever, stay tuned.