What about those not using social networking?

Twice today I was asked by people who are infrequent or non users of social networking solutions (and blogs) – how do you avoid leaving the non users out?  Or, when you are looking at a restaurant recommendation ot a wine recommendation – how valuable is the recommendation, given it is only based on information supplied by social network users, who may or may not be the best judge of the specific appeal of a restaurant or a bottle of wine for me?

If there are large groups of people who do not participate in social networking what is the impact for me, as a social networker and for them as non users?  Is a new elite being formed?  Even if people arecurrently  joining networks such as facebook in their millions, what about all of those users who cease to use the application some time after their initial registration?

Perhaps it’s a little (more than a little) like people choosing not to use a phone or not to use a mobile phone.  They are being left out, but may feel that overall quality of life is improved (or at least maintained) by not participating in a technology enabled, driven, environment.  And that environment is worse off for their non participation.

I tend to believe that social networking (when enabled by technologies/ standards such as SIOC) will prove to be a medium of communication and/or collaboration that people, for the most part, will need to join.  As the networks begin to work together and integrate the case fo participation will become greater.

It’s not all positive on the social networking side – lots of poor quality communication/ idea sharing/ workload sharing.   But grow it will – and opting out will gradually become less of an option for our citizens.

Author: Barry OGorman

Barry O'Gorman is an independent business and IT consultant, based in Dublin, Ireland.

3 thoughts on “What about those not using social networking?”

  1. The opt-in or opt-out of social networking question I think leads to a wider debate on how people use their time, and the value they wish to seek from what is a non work based activity.
    Social networking delivers a lot of benefit to user who opt-in, one only has to consider sites such as http://www.ratemyarea.com/ and see the value it can bring to users and to communities in general.
    The downside of social networking is those users who log-on to Facebook and spend upto 1 -2 hours trawling through photo’s of inebriated friends on nights out. I’m not suggesting there is any wrong with this, but where is the value. Should there be any value???..Consider what one could do in an off-line world in that 1-2 hour period. Therein lies the answer to why many people decide to opt-out of social networking. User logs-on with the intention of spending a half an hour, checking of what friends are doing, upload some photo’s, read some blogs, read updates from Twitter, and before you know it 2-3 hours of time is gone. In our time conscious society, has that time been considered well spent. I recall a piece from Karlin Lillington in the Irish Times recently when she decided to opt out of technology for the June bank holiday weekend; no updates on her blog, no tweets, her overall point how liberating she found the experience, and how for a short period of time , her online world continued to exist without her.
    Possibly the semantic web will offer a better structure and provide a more time-enriching experience for users than what is currently available with web2…who knows..

  2. Interesting observations – and I think any social networked will have experience of becoming distracted while on line. An old teacher of mine used to say that when you look up a word in the dictionaly stick to that word only – otherwise you won’t remember what you were looking up. All seems to have been turned on its head.

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