Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

The Tamagotchi Nature Of Social Networks...

Posted by Tom Foremski - July 24, 2011

A significant part of my day is spent maintaining my profiles on my social networks: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and now Google+.

Some of my time spent in these networks is genuinely useful but a lot of it is spent in housekeeping chores, I'm constantly peppered with tasks: approve these friends, like these pages, it's Joe Smith's birthday wish him happy birthday, someone commented on a post you commented on, you were tagged in this post/photo...

Sometimes it feels like I should spend my entire life here, tapping and typing all day long, running that hamster wheel.

Google+ currently requires a lot of clicking, adding people to circles, etc, and it's tedious work. With Google's circles I initially thought, great! I can now tidy up my mess of friends, acquaintances, family, SVW readers, etc...

But as with my initial enthusiasm for tidying up my socks, underwear, and T-shirt drawers, my interest quickly evaporated and now I pop people into just one G+ circle. All I'm doing is recreating my Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter networks on Google+, which made me think: why?

I'm doing it because, as with other important web experiences, I recognize that you can't know the value of these things until you do them, and you are in them -- as far up to the neck as possible.

Twitter is the best example of this effect: if you aren't in it then you will never get it -- no matter how many articles you read about Twitter.

I never possessed a Tamagotchi, the tiny little electronic toys representing a virtual pet that required regular care and feeding through pressing the right buttons throughout the day, or they would "die."

But my daily chore of keeping my digital presence alive across all my social networks feels like each one of them acts like a modern day, adult-themed Tamagotchi.

Making the rounds of my sites is certainly pleasurable for a while, but mundane the rest of the time. I can understand why some, such as author and online marketing guru Guy Kawasaki, employs several people to stand-in for him online.

However, if I had a bunch of Twitter proxies acting for me, for example, I would never find those great people, links, content, conversations, etc, that help me be better at what I do. And I know that's true for many of us, we have to swim in this soup of media just as fish swim in water -- but not all of us are in the water. You have to get wet to swim.

That's why I recommend to others that they don't outsource the daily chores of their social networks. Chop wood and carry water -- it's the path to knowing just that little bit more about this changing world.


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