How connected do we really need to be? If the latest statistics around popular social networking services are to be believed, we need to be connected at all times, to a lot of people, sharing every aspect of our personal lives.
I’ll admit (much to my wife’s chagrin) that I’m often guilty of being too connected. I have a MySpace account to keep in touch with a few old high school classmates, another account on LinkedIn to keep up with people at work, and then there’s that Facebook account that I have. Oh crap, I almost forgot Twitter, because God forbid there might be something I need to share from my mobile phone via SMS.
I’ve received e-mail from friends who don’t even know what in the heck a "facebook" is, but they got an invite from someone, set up an account, and then connected to me. That’s because if you don’t have a presence on these services, then you can’t really participate at all. How useful is that? Is there a lot of value in opening another account that you’re never going to update, just so you can get into the party? It’s a bit like the IM craze a few years back, and it’s getting a little ridiculous.
But let’s not forget where it all began: my Windows Live Space (where you are now). It’s what I’d call my digital "home," and I’ve been updating it semi-regularly for over 2 years now. True, it’s not as slick and sexy as the aforementioned Facebook and MySpace (just wait until Wave 3), but I prefer the simplicity and elegance of Microsoft’s service. It’s integrated with other Windows Live services, including Hotmail, Contacts, Messenger, and SkyDrive (even that weird new FrameIt service). And best of all, anyone can visit and check out my latest blog entries, pictures, and lists with just a simple URL (which happens to be http://gregsedwards.spaces.live.com). No account required. Beauty.
Until someone comes up with the equivalent of Trillian for social networking, I’ll probably keep those other accounts, but they’re all just gonna point back here. If you want to know what’s on my mind, you’ll have to come to me.
If I want to stay "in the loop" with my friends’ updates, I much prefer RSS (really simple syndication), which gives me lots of control. Using RSS subscriptions, I can receive only the updates that I want in one central aggregator (my aggregator of choice is the one that’s built into IE7). Most social networking services offer some degree of RSS integration (look for the icon somewhere on the page or in the IE7 toolbar).