Thursday, September 11, 2008

Turn off, tune out - part 2...

Instead of lengthy comments on a comment, I figured this could be its own post. Rich Kelly, from Interbike, commented on the previous post. First, thanks for reading, Rich. Second, as I was writing the original post, I was thinking "well, really how different is my blogging from twittering?" I would say it's quite a bit different. I try to only write something that I feel is of interest to someone who is as into bikes as I am. Originally, this was about my opening a bike shop, but it somehow morphed into what it is today - day-to-day bike shop happenings, commentary on bikes and the industry and maybe some neat pictures and humor.

Okay, so on to Rich's comment.

"I enjoy reading your posts. Thanks for your nice words about our blog being a helpful source of industry news. As for your thoughts on Twitter and other social media, I get bouts of socialnetworkitis pretty frequently myself and am sometimes challenged to keep up with all the Facebook, LinkedIn, and MySpace "friends" and updates. Twitter, though, seems to have "stuck" with me. It's a simple and easy way to stay in touch with friends and colleagues in the industry. It's unobtrusive and the short 140 character limit keeps posts quick and to the point.

My use of Twitter for the show this year is to have it send out reminders of events ("The Hite-Rite tech clinic starts in 15 minutes in room 201"), updates ("The Lance Armstrong autograph signing has been moved to the LeMond Cycles booth") and any other news that might pop up during the show. It's free, totally opt-in and you can choose to have it send the posts to your cell phone or just check it every now and then on one of the pc's in the online lounge or your laptop if you have one. I'm guessing you won't be bringing an iPhone with you to the show...

Yes, there are inane posts that are all over Twitter. There are also worthless blog posts - does that devalue blogs as a communication tool?

Along with the inaneness there are also great bits of info and insight into what's going on in the community. Just choose the right people to follow. It's also a great way to get feedback or opinions on ideas you may have. Again, it's just another way to stay in touch, meet and communicate with other people."

Yes, I do understand the value of using twitter as a tool. There are situations when someone has pertinent information that others will find useful and possibly save them some time. However, I would venture that that only accounts for a small percentage of twitter posts - and that is a total guess because I've not really seen a twitter post. But I can imagine.

And, yes, there are worthless blog posts. That is, I believe, a lack of focus on what you are trying to convey in your (that's a collective "your") blog. Staying on task with the reason you started a blog in the first place is difficult. There's blogs I read that definitely stray far beyond their marketing boundaries.

The one thing that I have a hard time understanding (and it's probably just me), is where do folks find the time to do all this blogging, twittering, facebooking, myspacing, linkedining... Maybe this is what folks like to do in their spare time. What did these people do with their time before they were bloggers, twitterers, myspacers, linkediners? Surely, they did something with their time. Did they stop doing what they were doing previously, or just fit in all this new stuff with the old? Do they miss doing what they used to do?

All these new types of activities are called social media. I think that's the wrong terminology. Social as a term pertains to interactions between people. Sure, that can be taken many different ways and one of them can be socializing through electronic devices. However, I prefer social as personal, face-to-face interactions between people. As people walk the streets, site at their desk, commute on the train, they may be "socializing," but they are socializing impersonally, looking into a small screen and seeing letters and words. They aren't standing next to a person talking to them.

I'm an observer. I walk through airports (when I used to fly a lot, over a million miles on one airline) and watch people. Other people walk through airports on their phones or frantically forming words on a tiny keypad. I feel they are missing out on the great act of observing humans or watching planes take off and land. When I'm in Las Vegas for Interbike, I'll walk to the show and watch people. When I'm at the show, I'll be waking aisles checking out the vendors.

Sorry, Rich, I don't think I will be opting in to Twitter to get up to the second posts about happenings. I'm sure you would constitute as a "right" person to follow, but I don't want to. I just don't want to make the time to follow you (no offense) or anyone else. You're correct, I don't have an iPhone, let alone a cell phone. I spend enough time on my laptop (which I won't be bringing either) that I don't want to be tethered by an even more portable electronic device.

One thing that I keep thinking about is, in this day, with all these "tools," people are afraid of missing something. Missing out on what's next. For those with tivo players, missing a show. Missing a text message. It's okay to miss a tv show. It's okay to miss the next blog post I make. It's okay to miss seeing someone. The world isn't going to end. And besides, if you don't know you missed it, how do you miss it?

Oh, and thanks for the info on the Hite-Rite tech clinic, I'm giddy with anticipation ;-). And brilliant bit regarding the autograph signing. Took me a minute to "get it," but had a good chuckle! Hope you have a good Interbike. I'm really looking forward to the show after missing it last year.

(What's playing: Journey Wheel in the Sky oh, yeah!)


Charles Cushman said...

The social network sites are like any new technology, it is how a person uses it that makes it so intrusive. Having a mobile phone does not create a requirement that I have to answer it every time a person calls. But as a person that travels and meet up with friends at various locations it is nice to be able to keep in touch when I need to.

The social networking sites are the same idea to me. I use them to share information with a designated group of friends, items like pictures, invitations to parties, and news in my life are much easier to share than having to contact each person individually. MySpace really saved me recently when I had a tragedy in my life recently and I did not have the strength to tell my friends what had occurred (I only have “real” friends on MySpace). And it continues to work for me as I meet new people and add them I don’t have to explain where I am in life, but I want them to know so that they can understand (I am a 30 year old widower).

But in the end I try to base all new technology around what I once learned about the Amish people. They don’t reject technology out of hand, but decide not to use it when it takes away from the person to person social interaction. Telephones are a no-no, roller blades are ok.

Rich Kelly said...

Enjoyed reading part 2 on this discussion. No worries on not wanting follow the Twitter feed. It's there if you want some reminders during the show, that's all.
I agree with Charles above - especially on the "my 'friends' are all REAL friends" comment. So many people seem to be in a race to have the most number of friends and lose sight of what a friend is. With that said, though, I'm looking forward to meeting a bunch people in person at Interbike for the first time that I met and converse with through social media. Great way to stay in touch with people across the country and around the world.

blackmountaincycles said...

Sorry to hear about your loss, Charles.

Yes, I also think there is a big distinction between what a friend is and what your "friend" bike-racer 1234 is.

Guitar Ted said...

Well, this is an interesting series of posts and comments. I find this whole "social media" thing quite an ironic cultural phenomena. Probably much the same as you do, Mike.

A telling comment that I hear often at cycling events is, "It's great to finally put a name and face to your forum name!" Why would that be, I wonders, Yesss my precious, we wonders.....

It ends up becoming a slightly "unreal" way to communicate that is passed off as being totally real and relevant. It is getting to the point where some youngsters can not communicate face to face because they do not know how to. Amazing!

Much like Gollum in Lord of the Rings, folks have become so focused on this type of interaction that it has taken on a life of it's own that is not only not real, it is devoid of any sort of uplifting spirituality that can only come from a face to face confrontation with each other.

Of course, if you can use it as a tool effectively, that's one thing. But if you are like the guy I saw the other day talking wildly into his cell phone as he walked right out into a street full of oncoming traffic, then it can be deadly. (Thankfully he only had his shorts soiled from the experience)

Useful tool or substitute for reality? That's a line that is getting blurred by the nanosecond.

Rich Kelly said...

Ted - you know, I get to see you in person maybe twice a year at IB and Sea Otter. In between, it would be nice to 'stay in touch' with what you're up to. I follow your blog, but those aren't always about you and are mainly one-way conversations. Twitter (dumb name) and other social sites allow me to communicate with people easily and quickly in between the face-to-faces. It's also a non-intrusive form of communication. It never interrupts my rides or time with my family.
That said, I'm looking forward to seeing your face again in person in a week or so...