This thing is all about online networking, which is something I have done on and off since library school. Well I assume all those wasted hours on Internet Relay Chat (IRC), when I should have been creating a faceted classification scheme for my assignment, count as online networking. Those were the days before facebook and modern browsers. We were just getting to grips with the Mosaic browser and I am only talking the early 1990s here!
Now online networking is pervasive and everyone is doing it, or at least it seems that way. There are advantages with it. You can keep in touch with people anywhere in the world very easily even if sometimes it feels like an online version of that christmas card you used to send once a year just to keep in touch. Colleagues, friends and acquaintances can follow your every move if you choose to broadcast it on all the social networking sites. I have to say that I am more of a lurker (stalker?) and I go onto facebook to find out what my friends are doing but rarely update my status. Normally so bored with my own life that I can’t imagine anyone else would be interested and if I am doing something exciting no time to tell anyone.
On the professional front I am on LinkedIn but I really need to get to grips with that more and actually update my profile properly. I do like following some of the discussions in the groups but again I don’t post. Similarly for CILIP communities, I get an email update and will follow links to some of the group discussions but it is not my first port of call of a day to see what is going on. Twitter I do find the most useful since it’s a good way to keep up-to-date with stuff. A great current awareness tool even if I don’t tweet that much myself.
As others have said online networking can turn into face-to-face networking even if it is just spotting names on delegate lists for conferences and matching the real person to the online one. Although you never know what the reality is and I wouldn’t want the experience that Buffy’s Willow had in I Robot, you Jane when she met her online friend below – be warned!