Our readings focused on the two sides of social networking: the benefits of collected knowledge and community as seen in the success of LibraryThing and the dangers of the loss of privacy. One can’t exist without the other, though with a bit of techno savvy the user can be smart about what they reveal. As the articles reminded us, whatever information you provide is no longer owned by you, but by whatever company owns the site and if Facebook (or any other site) wants to mix your information with advertising, they can. “KnittinMama just read ‘Yeast Connection and the Woman’ – Buy it now at Amazon!” As librarians, part of our role is in promoting and teaching information literacy and this piece has got to be in there. In the classes I have had during my MLIS program, the topic of information literacy has arrisen many times, but more in terms of evaluating sources and detecting bias, not in how to interact with the media.
I think social networking is the cornerstone which all of Web 2.0 is based upon. As I see it Web 2.o is the result of a world where social networking is possible. There are schools of psychology based upon groups and soon we will see one based upon virtual groups. It is overwhelming to think of all the accumulated resources created through the thousands upon thousands of social networking sites and then to consider all the personal connections that have enriched people’s lives. It’s happened so fast. Our articles spoke specifically about LibraryThing and its benefits as a reader’s advisory service and positive community. I have personally enjoyed LibraryThing as a tool for cataloging not what I own, but what I’ve read as a way to build my own personal tool. I’ve also spoke of the communities I’ve found Ravelry and 43 Things. I’ve definitely created some relationships on those sites that are very valuable to me.
We’ve also all heard stories in the media of the potential dangers of mob mentality in social networking sites. It’s not that different from people in real life. I think people often blame the technology, rather than the people using the technology. It reminds me of something I read while doing research on online tutorials. If an online tutorial is designed badly, students will often say that they dislike online tutorials. If a traditional lecture is performed badly, students will say that they disliked the instructor, not that they hate lectures.