At IABC’s Web2EU event last month in Brussels, there was a lot of discussion about trust, transparency and community-building via the new social media at our disposal. But most of us enter naked web-space with some trepidation, and rightfully so. We are skeptic. We “don’t believe the hype” 2.0 (it’s a sequel). And we wonder what bogey-men we will be exposing ourselves to “out there”: Which of our skeletons are we going to let out of the closet and risk having come around to bite us in the proverbial rear-end? The medium may be virtual, but the pain can be physical, emotional, mental.
I’m not exempt from this digitalia-phobia. And, since my husband says my closet contains an entire “Army of Darkness,” perhaps all the more reason to shy away from the interspace spotlight.
On the other hand, The Digital Future is our future (paraphrasing Kurzweil: “Anything that can be digitized will”), and like squaring the circle (à La Quadrature du Net), fighting this inevitability is futile. So, to some extent, I feel myself almost reluctantly being pulled towards the information black-hole whose entropy is so much greater than the sum of all of its parts — us.
Obviously, I’m a late-comer to the dance — and just at a moment when the NYT chronicles implosion of the blogosphere in “Blogs falling in an Empty Forest.” (B-Logs? Falling in an empty Forest?) Okay, I’ll bite: What kind of sound does that make? The “whooshing” of wordpress, blogger, squarespace, et al. all simultaneously going dark? I doubt it. And anyway, the less “noise” there is, the easier it is to hear messages worth hearing — not saying that mine is one of those, of course.
What I do notice about Social Media newcomers like myself is that we are all, naturally, fascinated by the medium itself and spend at least a part of our time making observations (goofy, insightful, naive, enthusiastic) about the new world in which we find ourselves. Take the example of Toyota’s “Aim: Zero Emissions” web campaign, recently shared with me by Hyperth!nker, Philip Weiss at ZN.be: Here, the ZN geniuses managed to convince Colin Hensley, an EU Public Policy person at Toyota, to start blogging about Toyota’s “green initiatives.” Lo and behold, among his blogs about electric vehicles, hybrids, etc., there also appears an entry on Colin’s use of Twitter — including some tweet-lingo, tips, and how he uses TweetDeck to follow “Toyota” tweets on Twitter. Say that ten times fast.
But the phenomenon abides. Looking at the blogsite of Danny Devriendt, one of Belgium’s most illustrious new media mavens: Even after many years on the circuit, Devriendt still regularly posts musings on new media itself — including a very insightful recent write-up about “twitiquette.” (Btw, I don’t know if this word actually exists. I just suppose it does.) If you ask Danny, though, he would say there is +no+ etiquette on Twitter — that people behave like neanderthals. His words: “There is a blatant lack of respect and etiquette in Twitter land, and it will kill a perfect good tool if people do not get hold of themselves quickly.” So he offers a few guidelines based upon his own experience, which I summarize here — but please be sure to read the post!
- Don’t retweet all the time; share your original thoughts.
- Don’t use cryptic language and make people guess what’s in the mini-link in your tweet.
- Use _normal_ words. (I like this one!) He says: “If you have more than one word starting with “tw” in your Tweet (like in “Tweople, if you have a Twuestion just Twask and Twadd my friend”) I will delete you into oblivion.” Scathing, but to the point.
- And, finally, don’t overdo it. There’s only so much about you that other people want to know.
Personally, I took all Danny’s advice very much to heart. (Now, I wonder if he will add me?) And this is lucky, I think, since it’s probably better to get on the good foot sooner than later — as my new, digital “me”!