How can I get started with the social web?

If you're diving into social media for the first time, you have two equally important jobs to do: acquiring some technical skills, and getting to know web culture. The technology is the easy part, since most "web 2.0" applications focus on simplifying the user experience to get people participating as quickly as possible. It's trickier to develop some judgement about what you find online; to understand the difference between LOLcats, ROTFL, and XML.

The best way to acquire both technical skill and social web-savvy is to dive right in, contributing as well as observing -- but imposing a fairly high standard of caution about the kinds of info you share or topics you address. Set up a blog, a photo collection or a video diary, and make sure your posts plug into a broader conversation rather than talking into the abyss. But avoid posting pictures of kids, comments about anything remotely work-related, or criticisms of anyone until you really know your way around social web tech and social web culture.

The resources on this page provide some starting points and pointers.

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Get more out of Evernote with Alexandra Samuel's great new ebook, the first in the Harvard Business Press Work Smarter with Social Media series!

Available on Amazon, iTunes and HBR.

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