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A break from social media ~ reflection

After I took a week off from social media, one of the first posts I came across on Facebook contained this video. The post was followed with a series of comments about the use of phones and our loss of connection with being ‘in the moment’. Prior to my break from social media, I would have agreed that the phone is the issue but after my self-imposed break, I discovered that without the lure of social media, I rarely reached for the phone. Instead, the phone lay dormant on the table attached to the charger for hours. My break from social media, indicated it was the lure of social connection and interaction that kept that phone close at hand.

I have come across a few articles recently, debating the negatives and positives of social media. One article highlight’s narcissism, and self PR campaigns, in the individual use of social media as a misconstrued need to display a sense of constant awesomeness. On the other hand, this debate in the New York Times points to the virtues of access to an audience, self publishing and instant interaction as presenting opportunities for individual growth.

Interestingly, being without social media is not all positive, just as being constantly connected is not all positive. A friend (from my social media world) joined me in my mission to abstain from social media for a week and we shared insights about the experience via SMS. He shared this article ‘I’m still here: back online after a year without the internet’. What is interesting in this article is how the writer chronicles his personal experience of taking a year off the internet concluding that the positive/negative divide is not straight forward.

I decided to switch off social media for a week, beginning just two days before New Years Eve 2013. Celebratory times often attract increased posting, so it was going to be a challenge. The decision was spontaneous and partly based around my perception that my contributions were tired and felt somewhat laboured in the month of December. You see, I had been online since the end of 2011 diving into many social media apps including; Instagram, Facebook, Momentage, Backspaces, Twitter, Vine, Picyou, Eyeem, taada, Streamzoo, Wattpad, lightt, Tumblr, WordPress, Blogger, Pheed, Scoop.it…

and the list goes on…..

The majority of these apps were a process of trialling for evaluation purposes, so my presence was short lived. However, my presence on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Vine have been constant. I’m not certain how much time I spent online with my phone, but it was definitely daily and on all four platforms. I would check each app every morning and participate in conversations, contribute content, check events, click on posted links and read/view content shared, read collated stories from Zite, share to targeted and appropriate social networks and so on and so forth… I’m pretty sure that was just two hours in the morning. I haven’t calculated time throughout the day nor the relax time after the evening meal when the kids are in bed… To say the least, four hours of online engagement may be an underestimate….. if I was being honest… (jaw dropping to the floor in realisation!)

I was feeling socially exhausted and needed to retreat, to think and refresh. The need to question the value of my contributions, the purpose, my connections and interactions seemed quite strong both online and in real life. Even with interactions IRL (in real life) I often feel the need to retreat and gather strength so that I can be social again. I suppose the virtual world had reached that point too.

Without social media, it became apparent quickly how few my connections are. SMS, email and phone are definitely much less active and interactions come from fewer people. The world felt somewhat silent. On a positive note, I relaxed more and just took time out. I even finished a novel in one night (it was a short novel). My time with my kids was less interrupted and seemed more positive. More than anything, my kids loved how unhurried I appeared. As a qualifier, this was the holiday time so relaxation was on the menu regardless. I actually started to feel relaxed and recharged too.

I found my thought processes seemed less hurried and distracted. I could think about what ‘it’ is about social media that is positive and consider the benefits of social networks online. I certainly missed my interactions and conversations with people that I connected with online and was looking forward to the time I could interact again. I discovered finding articles of interest, with no-one to share, made the conversation and knowledge construction seem far less interesting and rewarding without the social media platforms.

Without social media, the web is very static. Just reading articles and not contributing to conversation and adding to knowledge is something I tire from quickly. I suppose, knowledge is constructive and involves conversation. Social media has enabled this. With the networks that are formed, based around communities of interest, we are able to obtain various insights and access to information that is pertinent to specific interest areas. This helps to build on our thoughts, triggering connections with ideas we have come across and prompting further sharing and knowledge construction. In my social media networks, my communities of interest have developed around street art, writing, information access, arts, filmmaking and activism. With these areas I’ve connected with groups and conversations specific to these areas. Not all the people I connect with are connected with each other. Instead communities exist as various circles of interest that sometimes intersect but mostly remain distinct. Ultimately, this is what I view as a positive aspect of social media alongside the possibility of extending online relationships to real life relationships and vice versa.

So in 2014, one of my key resolutions is to increase my collaborative creative efforts with people from my social media world with a focus on improving both online and ‘in real life’ interactions. It is this aspect of social media, over the past couple of years, that has provided the most rewarding experiences. Clearly, this is the ultimate positive enablement of virtual communities.

Another resolution is to take breaks from social media. After a week’s break, I came back feeling refreshed, filled with ideas and wanting to contribute again. I’ve identified social interaction in the virtual world as no different to social interaction IRL, in terms of the need for retreat to replenish… in my case anyway. Just as I need a break to recharge IRL I also need this in the virtual world. Otherwise, I start feeling exhausted and unable to contribute.

 

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Reflections on a blog

self-reflecting

Self-refelction

I started this blog at the beginning of 2011. Initially, it was a part of my studies in the Masters of Information Studies (MIS) which I have been completing part-time. My posts are often musings related to studies, tangents spurred by thoughts related to the information sector and even divergences based on personal interests. Quite broad really, but as the first blog it proved a great place to dive in and just swim.

Now, as I am nearing completion of the MIS, with just one subject left, the question of ‘where to’ with this blog has arisen. Once the overarching studylink disappears, what will the focus of this blog be?

You see, this is not my only blog, I have other blogs dedicated to different purposes including creative writing and arts practice blogs. Alongside these other blogs I actively create content and share with other social media platforms. Clearly, there is plenty to keep me engaged and contributing.

It appears with social media, many take an approach of cross-posting the same information across numerous sites. It’s similar to marketing strategies where the aim is to reach as many audiences across as many platforms as possible. However, whilst I cross-pollinate some of my posts, as iterations across different sites, I have tended to take an approach that seems to be more compartmentalised in approach.

I tend to separate my focus in content contribution for different purposes to enable connection with distinct audiences/communities in some sites that do not exist on other platforms. I appreciate that some communities of connection in the virtual sphere are based on specific interests. For instance, with my arts practice, it is a distinct and specific focus. Some of the people I have connected with are only interested in my paper cutting and linocuts. With my writing, yet again it may be a different connection and so on. Not everyone that likes my street-art documenting, for instance, will be interested in my experimental videos or my writing and vice versa.

I’m acutely aware that my interests shared, are dispersed in such a manner and seem to focus more on maintaining smaller communities of interest instead of amalgamating into one broad group. Whether this approach works or not is difficult to fully gauge, but it suits me for now.

On this blog I have probably incorporated the most diverse musings and the structure is loosely held together with a focus on the sharing of information. Obviously, some of my study musings will dissipate over time but what else….

In reflecting, I’ve decided this blog will function as a blog of reviews. By reviews, I will continue with technology reviews, book reviews and my personal musings on arts. In the end I’m still sharing information but adding a more focussed approach. It seems to suit me just fine.

Maybe, Ill even revamp the look of this blog too…..

 

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10,000 paper planes

Sometimes the library is just for fun!

 

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Google+

Google has finally launched its social networking rival according to The Age with the article Google launches Facebook rival ‘Google+’ Judging by the activity in cyberspace, people have taken notice and interest. Funnily, when I saw the ‘Google+’ symbol appearing next to everything that comes up in a google search, at the bottom of youtube clips and elsewhere, I initially assumed it was just a ‘like’ tag that would link up to gmail or some other google service. The semantic web is becoming clearer by the moment as the demo highlights below with the ‘Sparks’ function. This is further elaborated in this Blogpost by Techcruch.

Here is the Demo

Some other articles of interest are Will the Google+ Project out Social Facebook by Laurrie Sullivan in Media Post News.

Somehow the launch has overshadowed the news that MySpace is about to be sold by Chris Crum in WebProNews.

However, I think Google may just have found its mojo to compete with the social networking sites afterall. They even make Sparks sound exciting as the following clip indicates.

However, I am still somewhat wary of the concept of the semantic web and still feel it has limitations. The following youtube clip sums up some of my sentiments on this particular issue.

 

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Bridging the divide…

Work in a Hunter Valley dairy factory [n.d]

Work in a Hunter Valley dairy factory

Work in a Hunter Valley dairy factory [n.d] cc licensed By Cultural Collections, University of Newcastle.

My family lives in another city to myself and as migrants in Australia, they have never become proficient enough in the English language. They arrived here in their twenties, during 1970 and 1971 under an assisted migration scheme with the promise of wealth and opportunity. Seeking a life of opportunity, as most migrants do, they were thrust into work immediately without any lessons in English. They have somehow bumbled their way through life experiencing change and retrenchment from industry to industry. They have always worked in low skilled jobs; initially factory work including the PYE television factory, a wool factory, a plastics factory, meat factories/abattoirs, textiles factories, shoe factories and the building industry. I recall vividly the personal experiences of the various retrenchments as manufacturing underwent significant change and decline in Australia during the 1970’s and 1980’s. The most recent change my mother experienced was the decline in the textiles industry in Australia during the 1990’s as factories shut down and shipped offshore. My father experienced the decline in the building industry with the GFC.  This background paper gives a picture of manufacturing over this period in Australia. Now, whilst close to retirement, they both work as cleaners. An industry I gather will never be in decline!

I arrived as a toddler to Australia. Therefore I grew up here, was schooled here and as a result have not had to contend with barriers of language nor barriers of technology. I have not had to contend with such shifts in employment due to change from external forces both economic and technological. Although, arguably the change in the information landscape is certainly producing significant shifts in the field of librarianship. However, there is much that is incredibly positive with the growth for information specialists.

I am not sure I can fully grasp the emotions associated with the experiences of my parents. Courageous is certainly a descriptor I would apply to them along with adaptable, persevering and tenacious. Their spirit has been incredibly resilient despite the circumstances endured.

Last week whilst in Sydney, I visited my family and I noticed my father had eagerly signed up for the internet; he has always been an adopter of technology in life starting with photography and filmmaking in the 70’s and traveling through the various changes in formats such as VHS and then digital. The internet was somehow more of an enigma and as technology shifted from mechanical processes to digital the understanding became somewhat more difficult to master.

I helped set up the internet for my parents and went through a few capabilities. I also bookmarked some sites for them that were from their initial country of origin. I chose Google Chrome as their browser for its ease of use and visual style, particularly as the address bar acts as a google search. This removed steps and enabled them to feel that the internet was not too hard after all. It was a pleasure to observe them navigating the news sites in their own language and of course who can deny the delight of youtube; especially when you discover clips that relate to your own specific cultural background.

They informed me that in their country of origin everyone is communicating via computer with their relatives around the world. That’s right they are skyping and my parents wanted a part of this. They wanted to speak with their siblings overseas and even see them. They wanted to speak with me this way also and they wanted me to help set this up. They were bewildered with the possibilities and wanted a part of it.

So Skype was set up. We encountered a few difficulties and determined a headset was the easiest way to fix the problem and get them skyping!

Last night, whilst back in Melbourne, I had my first skype with my parents. My mum was in her pyjama’s and when she realised she could see us and we could see her she commented that next time she needs to ensure she is dressed properly for the ‘occasion’. Both my parents laughed a great deal and it is great to see how something so simple could bring so much joy. They are now trying to find all the contact details of family overseas. The last time they visited overseas was 1981 and I imagine there will be many tears of joy when they first connect.

Multilingual mac keyboard

Multilingual Mac keyboard cc licensed by 24oranges.nl

 

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Transliteracy

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2011 in 126 ~ The self

 

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Library Lovers Day

Happy Library Lovers Day!
http://www.librarylovers.org.au/

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2011 in 021 ~ Library relationships, 126 ~ The self

 

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