Reflections from 2011 – Redefining Your Social Web Presence

Tenerife - Mount Teide in the WinterAfter having put together last couple of blog posts about some of my reflections from the year we are about to end around The Social Web and Technology in general, I guess it’s now a good time to share with the world the third one from the series. The one I have been telling people about over the course of the last couple of months as the one that is going to mark a before and an after with regards to my own involvement with The Social Web. You could probably think of it as a redefining moment of my own Social strategy, pretty much like I did in February 2008, when I redefined my own use of email by living “A World Without Email” ever since. I do realise that some folks may not like it, and some other people may relate to it quite a bit. But, in principle, I am going to keep that spirit of living life in a perpetual beta, going through, yet again, another experiment and see how it would move along, except that, this time around, it’s my own virtual life. Welcome to the new elsua!

How can I summarise this new strategy towards social networking in a short sentence, so that you would be able to have a glimpse of what I am about to get started with? Hummm, that’s quite a nice challenge, indeed, but if you have read the last couple blog entries you may have sensed already what it would be like. In case you haven’t though, here is a single one liner describing what I am about to get started with in 2012: Finally, after 10 years in the making, I’ll be freeing up myself from the yokes of both technology and the Social Web in order to get around, connect with my various social network(s), share my knowledge across and collaborate further along on my terms and not longer theirs.

I am not sure what you folks would think, but I’m ready, at long last, to free up myself from the yoke that both Technology and the Social Web have over-imposed on all of us and to no remedy. Or, better said, I am ready to free up myself from those people who control both of those environments to get the most out of us, but at our very own costs; in most cases, our very own energy, efforts, and truly hard work, while they just sit there and wait for it to happen, because they know it will happen eventually. Most of us, knowledge workers, have always had that very strong urge to connect with others, to share our affinities and true passions, to care for what one embarks on, and to help out where we possibly can. And plenty of times we keep going through the extra mile to try to achieve it. And most of the times, we don’t. Rather technology fails, or The Social Web user experience fails. Or both! And what do we do? We keep trying over and over again till we eventually make it through and make it happen. I am tired of having to put up with it all, of having to spend a humongous amount of time trying to customise my virtual social life to meet someone else’s needs (Those of both technology and the Social Web, as good examples to start with), while ignoring and neglecting my own.

Well, not anymore from yours truly. It’s, finally, a good time for me to depart from that incredibly frustrating experience of having to adjust, time and time again, both my working and life styles to the constant failures from both technology and the Social Web. It’s time for me to let real life kick-in, once again, and bring back that very important component all of us, human beings, seemed to have been neglecting for a long while: our very own personal, real life, (business) relationships. Yes, the physical social networking no-one seems to have realised we have been having out there for thousands, if not millions!, of years! I am no longer going to wait for either technology, or social networking tools, to fix their silliness and have me try multiple times to reproduce an experience that I feel should be rather straightforward: sharing!

I am no longer willing to go and pay through my nose for a service, i.e. the Internet, that telcos have ingrained in all of us as an essential must-have. Well, not really. They never had the control and they are not going to start now. At least, not with me. if the connection is there, if technology enables it painlessly, if the Social Web works the way it is supposed to, I’ll be fine. I will be there! Just like in the last 10 years and counting… However, if either of those three factors fail to deliver, I hereby declare I no longer care. Like a very good offline friend of mine would say: “Life is just way too short to have to worry about certain things taking place. You better make them happen yourself and move on, instead!

And that’s why, from here onwards, I am no longer going to worry about technology itself (Whether it’s connectivity, tools, or social software), nor going to rely on it much to get stuff done. If it works, it works, if it doesn’t, I won’t be bothering. I will be moving on to the next thing, because, you know, there will always be a next thing. Even after the Social Web. And that, basically, means I am no longer going to be around, waiting for things to happen and ask me, again, to spend my energy, effort and whatever other trouble, including my own time, to see if things would work out once again. Like I said, life is just too short for me to worry about those silly things. We should move on to better things, I am afraid.

WOW!! Really? Are you saying what I think you are saying with those few paragraphs mentioned above, you may be wondering, right? I mean, how will I get my stuff done, both internally and externally, both at work, and outside work, if I am no longer going to rely, as religiously as I used to, in both technology and social networking tools. Well, that’s a pretty good question, indeed, for which, at this point in time, I don’t have an answer for. However, I can tell you something else. I’m an optimist, an outrageous, a heretic, a free radical, in short, a rebel at work by heart who knows that if we don’t push the limits on helping redefine and reshape our very own social technology experiences no-one else is going to do it for us. So I’m having enough with it all. I am having enough with having to put up with plenty of frustration, of additional stress I know I could do without, rather low energy levels that keep draining both my motivation and energy to want to do great things, and a huge amount of unnecessary and unneeded tension that I know I just don’t need any longer anymore! And probably you, too!

Indeed, I am not sure how this is going to end up eventually, and whether I will be making it at all, or suffer along the way quite a bit. However, I am very willing to give it a try and see how it goes. That’s what life is all about, I guess, right? Trying new things to see whether they would work out for you or not, learn a lot about them along the way, and try not to make the same mistakes again. In short, keep applying some of that critical thinking in everything we do, because, like I said above already, if we don’t do it for ourselves, no-one else would. And perhaps rightly so. It’s got to get started within ourselves, because, whether we like or not, we are the ones who know best where the issues lay and what we can do about them. And act upon them! Long gone is the time where we remain passive about most of the stuff we used to do. Long gone is the time where we just waited for things to happen. It’s time to move on to better things and keep excelling at what we are already doing.

I am sure at this point in time you may be wondering what it would look like, right? I mean, how will it work for yours truly in today’s technology driven world by no longer being dependent on it, by freeing yourself from its everlasting yoke? Well, like I said, I will be reshaping it over the course of time, but here are some initial thoughts of how I’m planning to tackle both Technology and the Social Web in 2012 and beyond:

  • Connectivity: Starting with a biggie, why not, right? Yes, from now onwards, I will no longer care whether I’m finally connected to the Web or not. If within the first 15 minutes I can’t manage to stay connected on a rather decent Internet connection, I will give up on it and move on with the offline world. Perhaps a whole lot more productive than trying to figure out, or troubleshoot, why I can’t get connected in the first place. This would apply mostly to my business travelling, whether to customer events, workshops, meetings, or conferences, seminars, summits, hotel rooms, etc. etc. I’ll be more than happy to live blog / tweet / plus on things around me while I am travelling and certainly share as much as I possibly can, but if connectivity fails to deliver, you won’t see me much, perhaps the odd message to alert folks I’m giving up for the day and move on into real life, where I am sure conversations would be just as good and fruitful, but without the excruciating experience of, time and time again, having to struggle with technology. Not to worry, my dear telcos and various different Internet providers, the b*tching will be rather limited, since I know you can’t care less about trying to improve our user experiences. Your wallet will notice it though. From day one… At least, from me.
  • The Social Web – Blogging: One of my favourite social software activities from over the last 9 years (It’s hard to believe that I got started with my first internal blog way back on December 2003!!) will always be blogging. Like I said, if there is anything the last three months have shown me with these rather extensive breaks is that I need to keep writing. It’s healthy for the mind, it’s healthy for the soul. I realise now, as I am putting this round of blog entries that I cannot longer live without it. So what am I am changing in this area?

    Well, as a starting point, I am going to diversify my own blogging style. It’s no longer going to be those rather lengthy, hopefully, helpful, blog posts that I keep sharing over here. I do know and realise that plenty of them are far too complex to digest on a single read. Yes, they are, just as much as they are for me to put them together, since I truly love the research that goes along with it. The amount of extra linking I put together into it, the recommendations I share across on people to follow, including their writings and everything else and so forth. It’s quite a lot of time consuming, but totally worth it. Once you have got the right connectivity though, but since I know next year will be another year where I won’t have it, I better diversify on it. So, as a starting point, my blogging will continue to have lengthy blog posts where appropriate, but when I can’t put them together I will be going for shorter entries, sharper, sharing an initial idea I want to jot down somewhere and rather raw with hardly any additional links or hyperlinks to people’s work. That will need to come along at a later time. 

    The idea would be to keep feeding the blog with, hopefully, interesting content we can all learn from, which is also one of the reasons why I’m planning to make much heavier use of my Google Plus profile to draft some of those ideas, get some conversations going and then perhaps move that dialogue into a blog post for everyone else to see and participate in. And whenever it happens that I’m offline I will move that writing exercise offline as well, which is where I am hoping to rely, quite a bit more, on Evernote on my iPad than what I have in the recent past. Somehow I would want my iPad to become my new moleskine that I can take with me and sync everywhere, whenever I regain back connectivity.

  • The Social Web – Twitter and Google Plus: My use of both Twitter and Google Plus will continue to be pretty much the same from what I recently blogged about over at “Google Plus and Twitter – How They Work for Me Hand in Hand“. I will continue to work with both of them as part of “The Big Three“, but with the slight difference that, if good, decent connectivity is not there within the first 15 minutes of trying it out, I’m dropping both of them for what’s left of the day, till I regain that connection again. Like I said, if it works, it works, if it doesn’t, I am no longer going to wait. Instead, will focus on other offline activities, including real life conversations, specially, when I am on the road. 

    Mind you though perhaps on that same context of being a road warrior I will probably be focusing more on tweeting, than plussing, at least, till the overall user experience for Plus Mobile improves quite drastically, including the additional of a native iPad App. So if you don’t see me for a couple of days on Plus, it’s probably, because I am travelling and taking a short break; it doesn’t mean I have abandoned it. Not a chance. Remember, it’s still part of my “Big Three”, along with IBM Connections and Twitter. 

  • The Social Web – The Rest: The rest of the various other social networking sites will probably remain the same for yours truly. I will continue to have a light presence in there, although I’m not going to invest much on it, at least, till they all dramatically improve the overall experiences, so that they don’t become more of a drain, like most of them are now at the moment, whether due to privacy issues, terms of service, awkward user interfaces, etc. etc. You name it. So if you would want to reach out to me, the best methods would still be through this blog, a Twitter mention to @elsua or My Google Plus Profile. If it doesn’t get eaten by the system you should be able to receive a response from me within a reasonable amount of time depending on the urgency of the request / query / matter. I will still be there, not to worry, it is just that my response would now probably take a bit longer … But it will get there eventually.
  • The Social Web – Content Curation: And, finally, perhaps the biggest new move I will be making in 2012 and beyond. As good as knowledge sharing, collaborating with others, and generally connecting with other people are as activities on the Social Web, I’m going to start focusing plenty more on content curation. It’s the new black, it looks like, and I am hoping to bring it back into my social streams starting very very soon. Time and time again I keep getting healthily bombarded with terrific content I would want to share across, but usually I keep failing to share it along, because I just can’t keep up with it all while trying to add my ¢2, with the issues mentioned above already. So, instead of increasing my levels of frustration and irritation from not sharing those great links out there, I’m taking a different approach this time around and will start exploring the potential from one social software tool I have been following for a little while and enjoying from other folks: Scoop.it

    My profile in there is rather empty at the moment, but as we move along into the new year I surely plan to create a good number of different categories and start populating them a good bunch of interesting and relevant readings I have bumped into over the course of the last few months, and which, at some point or another, I would want to refer to once again on the odd blog posts, Plus conversations or tweets.

    I may be looking as well for an external social bookmarking service, to keep that curation going, but I am not too sure at this point in time just yet on what I will be doing. Still thinking about it, so if you folks out there have got any recommendations outside Delicious or Diigo, which have never convinced me much, I am afraid, I would love to learn about how you are managing your own social bookmarks. I have heard lots of great things about Pinboard, but not sure whether it would be worth the investment or not… What do you think? Is it worth while going for it? Would love to read your thoughts on it, if you are using it actively. 

And that’s it! Another rather lengthy blog post about to hit the Social Web out there. Another blog entry, that, like I said, will help shape up, once more, my overall Social Web Presence. Still in the making though and with plenty of room for improvements, I am sure, but I just love engaging on this kind of experiments to keep refining them over the course of time, just like I have been doing for almost 4 years now with living “A World Without Email“, more than anything else because of the unexpected situations and key learnings that will occur and that I am sure will be helping me put a stop with that excruciating and rather painful experience of having to adjust my social presence around certain social networking sites, when I feel it should be otherwise.

Did I complete lose it? Am I way off again? Did I jump the shark far too soon? I seriously don’t know. I guess time will tell, and this blog, too! Because I surely plan to share how the experience will be developing over the course of the next few months. Got any suggestions on what you feel could work, or not? Share them along, too, please! I would love to know whether I have gone completely crazy with all of this Social stuff or whether we are just witnessing the beginning of something bigger, much bigger: Redefining Our Own Social Web Presence with a Focus and a Purpose.

(Ohh, by the way, I haven’t revealed a couple of surprises here and there that will surely continue to shape up and change a few things on how I view self-publishing of new content and not necessarily on the blog alone; I will be sharing more details on each of them shortly as well, as I get ready to prepare last few things, before they go live … Stay tuned for more! It’s bound to provide lots of good fun, too!)

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