Sunday, August 2, 2009

I Never Knew I Had So Many Friends...

Social networking "is the grouping of individuals into specific groups" (Social Networking). Websites are usually used to manage online social communities (think Facebook or MySpace). Friends are the major focus within social networking - it connects people all over the world. The networking portion basically works like a spider web with you in the middle. The friends that you have are directly around you, their friends directly surrounding you. Thus, by the time you account for all these people, you are suddenly connected to people you may have never even met in person.

In my search for information on social networking, I came across a "Start Your Own Social Networking Site." I didn't even know that this was available. Apparently you can purchase social networking software to add to your website. This could be useful for some businesses, although I don't know why you wouldn't simply use something that is free and used by more people in order to reach more of the population.

Social networking revolves around a particular structure, including the user profile, friends, groups, discussions, blogs, and widgets (What is Social Networking). Many people use social networking for entertainment, to connect to friends all over the world, to connect with others who have the same hobbies and interests, and from a business perspective, social networking can be a vary effective technique in reaching other businesspeople, colleagues, and potential clients and customers.

I was a little slow to jump on the Facebook bandwagon. I didn;t understand what all the fuss was about. I declared that I would never become a Facebook user, simply because I didn't understand what exactly Facebook was. I was still using MSN Messenger to chat to friends. I kept getting emails from friends who had already joined and wanted me to. Finally, the summer that I worked at a library, I broke down and signed up. To be honest, for the first couple of weeks, I had no clue what I was doing and I couldn't figure out what anything was for. I eventually figured it out and now I can say that I am an active Facebook user, often using it as my central place for email and to keep up with friends. I check it a few times a day, usually in the evening after work. While I am at school however, it can become slightly distracting. There are so many things that you can do on Facebook, you don't actually have to leave the site in order to play games, read blogs, and look at photos. While I don't really have too many applications, I know a lot of people who play poker and other games on Facebook.

Social networking sites have a lot of potential for connecting students to others around the world and library patrons with other library patrons and even library staff. Along with these benefits, however, there is the chance that social networking sites be used inappropriately. For example, I have mentioned before, the likelihood that child predators and pedophiles would use a social networking site in order to locate their next victim. With children not quite understanding the danger in providing private information to the online world, social netowrking can become quite hazardous. In this case, it is understandable why some schools have actually blocked the Facebook site entirely.

I signed up for LibraryThing in order to explore a new social networking site. I like the concept behind it - being able to catalogue the books you own and discuss them with others- but I still feel a little bit confused about how to use it. I think that if I was given more time, I'd be able to figure it out, just as of yet, I don't feel entirely comfortable using the site.

Social networking can be used in schools and classrooms in many ways. It can be used to discuss curricular topics, complete group projects, and even communicate with students from other schools. The problems I see with social networking in the classroom is students adding friends to their accounts that they shouldn't be and posting information that they should not be sharing in an online environment. Many schools block social networking sites for this reason.

In libraries, I can see social networking being used more effectively. Patrons and staff can be part of the library group. They can have book talks/book groups, request certain books be added to the library's collection, talk about upcoming events, and recommend books to others. There is really no limit so as to how social networking can be used in the library. LibraryThing actually has a specific part of their site for libraries. This would be particularly useful and relevant for libraries.

Social Networking. 3 July 2009. 30 July 2009.

Nations, Daniel. What is Social Networking. n.d. 30 July 2009


  1. I agree, LibraryThing is not as intuitive as facebook. Also, the social networking aspect hasn't quite caught on, so for now it's a great place to inventory personal books, but not a super place with interact with other readers. They're working on it though, and I'm curious to see if it catches on. If you want a LibraryThing tutorial, let me know.

  2. I would love a LibraryThing tutorial! It might make the whole thing make more sense to me.

  3. I've never heard of librarything, it sounds like a really cool idea though. I will have to check it out. It sounds kind of similar to shelfari.