It’s a fair question whatever your personal or professional pursuit. I’ve thought about it a lot the past month as I’ve become a more "semi-public" persona around community work. I’ve also been thinking about this because at Microsoft, this is the time of year we go through a process called Mid Year Career Discussions. This is a formal process where every employee pulls together and reviews their own personal development plan. So, advice for the day…or I should say…your critical personal question: Are you curious enough to drive community work?
If my blog is the only blog you read on the topic, the answer is definitely no - not curious enough…check my links for fellow recommended bloggers.
Next, are you playing with "stuff?" Trying things out? Forming opinions? Right or wrong - at least getting your hands dirty enough to speak first hand about them? Below are some the things I’ve been trying and/or using to various degrees. What follows is NOT really a product/service review - with many, I’m hardly far enough along the path to have firm opinions yet. But, I have included a few "impressions." I hope you might point me at other things to try and/or comment back on your opinions of these and other resources.
So, here goes:
Ning - I recently posted about Ning - I’m leaning towards an "I don’t care" point of view. I like the concept and usability. But I’m struggling with the idea of all these different social sites for personal community building. The "killer app" for social networking is the network - critical mass of engaged participants. It’s not the UI (or craigslist wouldn’t be so awesome!!). For what I’m interested in, the destination that houses the community seems irrelevant. If the content is good, I’ll grab the feed and participate as interested.
- hmm - still playing…click the link and help me think more on this one. I give it some points for being different and potentially fun - kind of a group IM, but not so invasive!! Don’t think it will change my life and to be determined if it just becomes a fad and then disinteresting as life gets busy.
- For me, I would call it "mywaste." I had to try it out. I’m too old and maybe too married to appreciate it. I set up a profile (married, kids, looking for business networking). Within 48 hrs, I had been contacted by someone looking for a "relationship" (yes, you know what I mean!!) and the largest ads appearing on my page were "Meet Singles in Redmond." Myspace makes me feel dirty. And yes, I know I’m not the target demographic for myspace.
Wallop - kinda interesting…I do like the UI, though like my comment above regarding Ning, the UI won’t win me over. This is a closed beta, so may not be easy for you to tour. What seems different to me (and better than ning or myspace or…) is that it feels like my community there is My Community. Think of it this way. In Ning, I feel like a hotel guest. I have a room amongst a whole bunch of other co-habitants with whom I may or may not share any interest. Wallop feels more like a home. I invite in who I want and the rest can be fairly invisible to me. I kinda like that.
delicious - Changing gears - I’m all for social bookmarking - looking forward to consolidation/aggregation around this. Anything that helps groups of like interested people swarm to more interesting/valuable content I’m in favor of. For what I am interested in most, this is more useful to me than a search engine.
technorati - I like Technorati. I tend to use it as a tool for being a "gracious guest." Meaning, I look for people who have linked to me and I go visit them. I say thanks and more often than not find that I just found someone else who I’m interested in following.
mybloglog - I quickly lost interest…someone tell me what I missed.
Digg / coRank - I really like this concept. I was surprised by the traffic that found me once I added Digg on some of my posts. I really thought that given my niche that my Digg ratings (7 is my all time high on a post) would always leave me invisible in Digg. I stand corrected. Clearly people are using Digg to search topics and nav to sites of interest. I still think these services are too expensive. As a blogger I don’t like taking the extra steps to use Digg or coRank. I look forward to an alternative.
- what’s not to like. I will add a lot more photos the next few weeks from the MVP Summit.
- I like facebook, though likely not enough to use it much. I mean really, why do I want profiles, friends and photos in so many different places? It’s a hassle. I will use this passively to network, but likely will need to be pulled there, vs proactively going there.
- Full of recruiters!!! But I guess that is to be expected. Join my network if interested. On the surface, I think Facebook might be a "better" Linkedin, but I can’t yet say enough better that it is worth the time it would take to move over and I don’t really want two of them!!
OpenID - Still not sure why Microsoft took so much grief years ago over Hailstorm. I wish I had it now. I feel like every new social site that opens requires me to goldrush to it to get my same ID so I don’t have to keep track of different ones. I hate that not all sites require or even support "hard" passwords (special characters) as it means I maintain multiple passwords. I like the idea of OpenID - I think it will fail though. I signed up anyway and wish them well - goldrush!!
cocomment - I like it a lot, but for whatever reason don’t use it really religiously. For those of you that occasionally post in others blogs and think: "how am I going to remember to go back here to follow this conversation?" CoComment is for you. Very useful for this, but, as I said, I don’t find myself using it religiously. If I’m that into the conversation I’ll grab the feed and hang on for awhile.
MSN Spaces - a beautiful thing for ease of use. Bar none - Microsoft employee bias out front - it rocks for ease of use. see my post on why I left spaces for wordpress here.
LiveQnA - Nice. I use it infrequently and for very random things, but I like it. Example. I have a home deep fryer. My wife asked me how we get rid of the left over oil we change every once in awhile…I checked the book: nothing. Quick online search: nothing that helpful. Posted the question in LiveQnA: 6-7 answers in a few hours - several good, one we used.
Wordpress - Truthfully, I have not looked a lot at others, so no comparison here…but I am happy with it. Made MUCH more happy through the use of Live Writer.
There are others, but these are the ones most top of mind as of late. Feel free to add.
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