i definitely see the value in social networking sites (facebook) as well as professional networking sites (linkedin) but what i find more important and more valuable than connections on these sites is conversations. you can use both kinds of networks (social and professional) to get networked with people in your geographical location as well as your industry and even with people that share your interests. what i don’t see these networks doing is facilitating people in leveraging these connections into useful conversations. these conversations, it seems, are happening off the sites and through other mediums.
yes, these sites have tools like person-to-person messaging and status updates but for the most part conversation through those features feels disconnected and contrived. for me, these conversations are happening over email and instant messaging, but primarily through twitter (the microblogging tool has pretty much replaced networking tools for me) as well as blogging (either in the comments sections or as response posts). similarly, when people refer to social news or social bookmarking sites as social networking platforms, i think the classification is somewhat misleading. while these services definitely have both social and networking elements to them, they are very limited and almost ‘tacked on’. even for these sites, once the connection has been made, a large part of the conversation takes place off the site.
while we wait for these to sites become truly social (as in mediums for conversations not just connections), i am curious to hear what tools you are leveraging to extend conversations beyond the limitations of these sites.
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