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.
As the Internet structures or touches more and more of lives, our relationship to it becomes a powerful expression of our personal and social values, and a crucial opportunity for both personal and social change.
In the world of online social networks, the word "friend" is a lot less meaningful; it includes your most casual of virtual acquaintances. Until you have a chance to build a certain level of trust with them, respect and affection, your interaction with your online friends (a.k.a. "buddies" or "contacts", depending on which social network you're using) will often be the digital equivalent of nodding at each other as you pass in the hall.
Any time someone calls themselves a techno-peasant, grasp them by the shoulders, give them a bracing shake and tell them, "No, my friend. You're a newbie. And together, we will overthrow the hierarchy, close the digital divide and bring justice to the web!"
Social bookmarking -- storing your bookmarks online, where you can build knowledge in collaboration with others -- is one of the most powerful tools of the social web, and one of the easiest to start using. Find out what social bookmarking can do for your productivity and knowledg management -- and what it can teach you about using the social web.
We experience our speech (our blogging, our video posts, our podcasts) wholly subjectively, as a form of expression. That can be incredibly liberating. But liberating can cut both ways...