Sunday, September 28, 2008

Social Networking

Possibly the only thing everyone but me has talked about, rather endlessly I might add, through hoards of articles, blog posts, op ed pieces, nightly news broadcasts, and circular conversations, all about this social networking "phenomenon" or whatever "it" is. What is it?

Questions like "What?" and "Why?" are -- I've decided -- futile. It's a mute point, at this point, just like asking something such as "What is art?" or trying to have a philosophical or logical discussion about the existence of God or what lies beyond our mortality. I stopped having these conversations in the dorms at Ohio State some 20 years ago.

After a weekend in Columbus, Ohio, recently -- speaking of OSU -- I ran into an old friend who I hadn't seen in about 15 years. One of my first goals was to badger her to find out information about all of our old friends, long lost to me. One person came up immediately and I was told to look her up on facebook because she's also living in Cleveland and would likely be happy to hear from me.

So, I did it. I added her as a friend in my facebook and within less than a week I met her and her boyfriend out for drinks at La Cav du Vin in Coventry. Fun fun times, not all about being online. Although Julie did have a very cool gadget on her cell phone that analyzes and tells you what music is playing in the background and it's scarily accurate for some little piece of A.I. technology. Brilliant if you ask me.

Speaking of A.I. technologies, there's a really cool application for my iPhone (and a website for those of you not yet fully portable) called Pandora: radio from the Music Genome Project. You just put in an artist you like and it automatically calls up tons and tons of streaming radio selections; full-length singles from similar bands. It's a glorified "and if you think you liked that" service, not unlike what you encounter on Amazon or the personalized ads of Google.

It is, again, scarily accurate the way this thing selects music. Like it knows what you want to hear before you knew you wanted to hear it. As each song plays you have the option of giving it a thumbs up or a thumbs down, increasing or decreasing your chance of hearing similar songs, and on, and on...

So, I'm not even sure what I think any more about all this Web 2.0 stuff. I just think the term is overused. It's all kind of cool, but over rated for sure. The most fun is when you can use the technology to inspire you to buy a CD or to meet an old friend out for drinks!

Now if I could just figure out how to add a twitter or facebook feed to the right column of information and widgets. For now I've added the option for people to "follow me" and that's as good as it gets for now.

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