To be transliterate today, and in the future, you must be familiar with, and comfortable using, different social platforms. Many feel that social platforms are a waste of time. They can be, but think through history, and look at how every technological advance was predicted to have a negative impact on education and health. Bobbi Newman pointed out in the seminar referenced in Part I of this series, that the printing press was spoken out against because people feared relying on the written word would allow people to get lazy about memorizing important things. They could just read information in a book, and would not feel the need to memorize. Then the radio, it was feared, would take away from reading and study time...and so on. Now with computers, there is so much information out there, we can suffer from information overload. This is where the real value of social platforms lies.
Through social platforms we can filter and monitor so much more information. Let's take a quick glance at the different platforms out there:
1. Blogs. Well, we all know what they are, and we have fun writing them. Some are used merely for journaling, others are news-oriented, many are topical. I love to read book blogs, and to know what everyone is reading out there in the world. When I spot a trend, I mention it to the librarian in charge of collections. When you find blogs offering information you are interested in, there are tools to track them, such as Google Reader to help you follow blogs.
2. Microblogs. Twitter is the most famous of the microblogging platforms. I discussed Twitter here. Microblogging could be described as hit and run blogging; short little snippets of information are offered to readers. There are often character limits, so microbloggers are pithy. Other platforms have microblogging features built in, such as Facebook status updates. The power of microblogging is just beginning to be understood.
3. RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. It is essentially a way to broadcast your information to a wider audience, in real time. When someone signs up for RSS, they are asking to have information sent to them, from a particular website. This is called a feed because the information is fed to a designated location, such as your email account, or a reader. When your favorite blog author or news organization writes something, you can receive an RSS feed almost instantly, and nearly all the platforms out there offer RSS, there is no special html formatting you need to do, every tool bar these days has the little symbol to send feeds to your designated location. All you have to do is click the orange symbol you see above, and follow the directions to receive a feed.
4. Widgets. These are tools that you can utilize to dress up your blog or webpage. They are tools that you can find all over the internet, already formatted, you just need to add the html code into your webpage. There are widgets for everything from weather reports to web visitors to photographs. You need to be careful that widgets are from reputable sources so stick with the ones put out by sources you can trust.
5. Social networking. This is where you starting getting into the really fun, and sometimes dangerous platforms. Facebook and Myspace are two of the biggest names in social networking. You only need to Google the words Facebook Privacy to see where social networking can be dangerous, and you only need to sign up for a Facebook account to see how much fun it can be. There are multiple advantages to social networking sites, you can reconnect with people you've lost track of, easily keep in touch with family and friends, and find information pertinent to you on a timely basis. Oftentimes our friends have similar interests, their postings will help us keep up with information that is pertinent to our lives, without having to troll every newsite out there on the internet. Using social networking intelligently can save time and energy, the downfall is it can just as easily suck up time if you are not disciplined!
There are five more platforms in the above illustration (click on link for the credit). I will discuss them in my third article for this series on transliteracy.