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    Entries in social media (9)


    Easing the Conscience :: Social Media Time Wasters and Knowledge Work

    If you're like me, you've worried that you spend too much time on social media procrastinating. You check Facebook, Twitter, or some other social network as a way to hit pause on a current project. You flit back and forth from website to document to spreadsheet to inbox. And you beat yourself up over it.

    This week I've been reading Matt Perman's What's Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done. A review is in the works. I really like productivity tips, and subscribe to blogs or follow experts in the field. Perman's book is really good, and I'd recommend it to anyone, not just Christians. But Christians have the most to gain from the wisdom he offers in this book, because his approach to productivity is centered on the gospel and driven by adherence to the principle of blessing. Perman understands that God has called us to steward our lives well, and to use our gifts and talents in our various vocations in service to the world.

    One passage in What's Best Next really captured my interest, and I wanted to share it. It has to do with social networking and the kind of time wasting described above. Here's what he writes:

    Many companies restrict employee access to social networks, personal email, and other sites, thinking that they are distractions that waste time.

    This is a classic case of not trusting people and failing to treat them as adults. It also reflects an outdated notion of work. For knowledge workers, work is not just something you do nine to five. Email keeps coming long after you leave work, and good ideas come at 8:00 at night just as easily as 10:00 in the morning. Spending fifteen minutes on Facebook at 3:00 in the afternoon is not a big deal given the new nature of work as something that can happen anywhere, at any time, and when our most productive asset is now our minds rather than an ongoing willingness to create widgets.

    But more than that, this attitude fails to realize that, when people are self-motivated (as the people you hire ought to be), you don't have to worry about their wasting time. They love what they do and are driven to do it. They don't want to sabotage themselves. They know the right time to take breaks--when it will actually benefit their overall energy and productivity rather than compromise it.

    For self-motivated people, time spent on Facebook is actually productive. It is productive for building networks and spreading truth. Both of these build people up, and thus increase productive capacity.

    Perman goes on to explain that research supports that those with the most extensive personal online networks are more productive. He writes, "Facebook and other online networks and interaction help us refine, spread, and gain ideas." Believe it or not, social media can be good for our work life.

    So ease that conscience. But use your time well. If you clearly understand your role and are focused on your God-given mission, an occasional break won't sink you.

    Check out Matt Perman's blog, or follow him on Twitter.


    A Social Network Christmas

    Considering this has received over one million views, I'm late to the party. But this video has set the tone for our look at the Christmas story in the Student Ministry at UBC, and is incredibly well done. Take a look.


    Around the Web :: Lutheran Insulter, Lent, and the Pope

    I can't help but laugh at Luther.  Perhaps spendings some time with the Lutheran Insulter will help me be more bold when challenging others.

    Gizmodo deemed the Pope's Twitter handle spam-like, bizzarre, and "the worst of all time."  I tend to agree.

    And finally, Christianity Today posted an analysis of what people gave up for Lent in 2012, according to Twitter.


    Can Social Technologies Substitute for Face to Face Interaction?

    Jonah Lehrer of Wired Magazine was published online at the Wall Street Journal on the tail end of last week asking, Can Online Social Networks Replace Real Socialzing?  The question is not new.  But with the advent of Google+, a network whose values Lehrer extolls, the question is worth revisiting.  Carefully noting how Google+ differs from Facebook and other social media services, Lehrer invites his readers to consider our expectations for social technologies and how they factor in assessing relationships, whether they be for work or play.  Lehrer makes the following conclusions:

    For too long, we’ve imagined technology as a potential substitute for our analog life, as if the phone or Google+ might let us avoid the hassle of getting together in person.

    But that won’t happen anytime soon: There is simply too much value in face-to-face contact, in all the body language and implicit information that doesn’t translate to the Internet. . . . Perhaps that’s why Google+ traffic is already declining and the number of American Facebook users has contracted in recent months.

    These limitations suggest that the winner of the social network wars won’t be the network that feels the most realistic. Instead of being a substitute for old-fashioned socializing, this network will focus on becoming a better supplement, amplifying the advantages of talking in person.

    For years now, we’ve been searching for a technological cure for the inefficiencies of offline interaction. It would be so convenient, after all, if we didn’t have to travel to conferences or commute to the office or meet up with friends. But those inefficiencies are necessary. We can’t fix them because they aren’t broken.

    The final two sentences struck me as a profound admission.  Face to face interaction and the intricacies of language "aren't broken" and are "necessary".  The physical spaces we create for community, for work, for common venture, for conversation, and for mutual care should be valued for what they are, invaluable occasions wherein life can be shared and common bonds are established.

    While churches and other ministries continue to explore how social technologies can be leveraged, I hope that the very gift of face to face interaction and physical presence are not forgotten.


    Google+ :: Are You On Board?

    Like others in my network, a Google+ invite came my way this past week, first courtesy of Tony Morgan, and later from Andrew Conard.  Soon thereafter, friends began adding me to "circles", and email notifications began to light up my inbox.  As someone interested in tech, and as an avid fan of social media, I began doing some research.

    Harvard Business Review's Joshua Gans was among those I consulted.  His impressions are largely negative.  In his estimation, Google+ offers nothing new at all, and because Google has orchestrated a progressive, invitation only roll out, the network has lacked adequate population to make the network attractive.  Interaction, at this stage, is not taking place, at least for Gans.  And if this doesn't change quickly, Gans notes that this could lead to quick abandonment of the site, and a return to other social media services that already have an existing base and a clearly established purpose.

    Evaluating the level of activity, Gans writes:

    Having done lots of set-up, I waited to see what happened. The answer to that was: not much. For Google+ to work, it has to be populated. Specifically, it has to be populated with people the user is interested in. As it is early days, that crucial feature isn't there.

    This (lack of) network effect could do Google+ in if it can't get a virtuous cycle going. So the question is whether Google+ has the potential to attract a large enough network.

    It shouldn't be a surprise that many of the leading Christian technophiles have been jumping on board with Google+.  One of my friends, Andrew Conard, even asked his network to weigh in on whether he should dump Facebook or Twitter, transferring his energies to Google+.

    As I began poking my way around the service, several questions came to mind.  First, is Google+ different from existing social media services?  Does it add something to my social media world that I do not presently have?  Does it improve upon the existing services?  Is there a reason to establish a presence on Google+?

    Are you on board with Google+?  If so, what are you thoughts?  If not, would you consider setting up shop with Google in addition to the services you already use?