Sunday, February 25, 2007

Social Networking, the Creeps, and Learning

Monday night I awoke around 2:30 startled from a dream. In my dream, I was speaking to a group of folks on our campus about social networking—that part of the dream is scary enough because I know soooo very little about social networking, albeit I am learning. As I was speaking, a man, with spine-chilling beady eyes, stared at me, looking right into my soul. I have met only a couple of people who give me the hibby jibbies and this one man was certainly in that class. I did not know him. A fear jarred my mind—he knew me because I had posted personal information on a few web sites.

Through the years, I have tried not to give too much information about myself through the internet. A few hours before I went to bed, I had posted a blog that was more personal than I intended, and then I completed a profile using my real name on a mashup site at a colleague’s request. As I awakened, I cursed my bizarre dream—the crazies can be in my backyard, or they can be half-way across the world.

The advantages of socializing, connecting, understanding, and learning are too great to forego over a little fear of what might happen. Connecting with others who have similar professional interests is way too easy to not try to soak up their knowledge and expand my own understanding. The best way to understand and learn from others is to immerse myself into relevant virtual communities. Kevin Gamble calls this “being the ball”.

In order to do 2.0 you have to live 2.0 (be the ball). It's not something you can just hear about and then immediately grok.
I have put those crazy paranoia thoughts behind me. Simply, I do not want to miss these great opportunities to learn from others. Hopefully, I will develop ideas because of others. And, maybe I can influence others, as well.

In case you are wondering how to stay safe on the internet, Cindy Eves-Thomas at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension authored "Staying Safe in the digital age" . Thanks to John Dorner to pointing out this information.

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