Over the past week, I have dabbled my toes in the world of social networking. I have not yet activated my facebook profile (bashasys) or sought my “friends”, but I have looked as some of the more narrow market social networking tools. The problems is that many of the tools are TOO open. That means lotsa people to follow, lotsa posts to sift through, and oodles of time to waste. For that reason, my recent discovery of “groups” in a number of these sites heralds a change in my opinion of them.
Groups, for those who don’t know, are more like amorphous electronic social clubs. They each have a dynamic. Have too few people in a group, and nothing happens; it sits dormant, waiting for someone to provide a spark, and eventually dies a slow death of obscurity. Have too many people and the group become a raucous nightclub with EVERYONE SHOUTING, and no-one able to be heard. In some ways, like a busy pick-up bar (from long ago memory), there are those select and talented individuals who can actually meet someone in such an environment, with the unique capacity to say the right thing and hear the right thing in a way to make a connection. For the majority of us, myself included, the noise and business is a turnoff; there is no way to get to know someone, to connect.
And so, finding myself in the role of group moderator and host, I have faced a choice. Do I open up the group to anyone interested who clicks a join button, thereby boosting my number of “groupies” and friends. Or do I handpick my friends and invite them into the club, ensuring that the members have something in common, that the group doesn’t get too big. I have chosen a middle ground. I have tried to define the space, the credentials required for membership in the group. I have albeit invited my friends; but I have also asked them to invite their friends, and them to invite their friends. For my HotDocs Wizards Link, my criteria is that any participant actually program in HotDocs, not just be interested in following or marketing to group members. For The Virtual Lawyer, I have asked that members be either lawyers or technologists working with lawyers who use and promote the Virtual Practice of Law.
Only time will tell whether this is a waste of time, my time and my members time. For the moment, it is fun; there are some useful ideas; and I have learned what others with similar interests are doing. It has allowed me an excuse and a forum to hook up with those whom I see only occasionally and others who may know of me but whom I do not know. It has been commented that this blog is closed to comments (Mark Deal, we know who you are and where you live). The main reason has been the commenting capabilities of blogs are really inadequate to the development of useful discussions. This blog, however, is NOW being fed as a newsfeed on the HotDocs Wizards Link. If you do want to post comments, be sure to join the HotDocs Wizards group and post your comment there.