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You know, the Internet is only good for . . .

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. . .

About 15 years ago, back in the dark ages of the internet, I once proclaimed to Dale that the only thing really happening on the internet was porn–and advertising, and/or advertising for porn. While I doubt that the porn industry has slowed down at all on the information superhighway, I guess I’m pretty pleased to see that those interwebs are good for something else, too.

Web 2.0, or the explosion of internet sites based on social networking, personal preference, or some sort of two-way interaction, has ended up bringing a smile to my face more often that I would have ever anticipated. I had a Facebook account for several years before Dale leaving for Germany finally prompted me to learn to use it to keep in touch with people. Watching various topics from higher ed or the news cycle through the news feeds of people who do not know each other but each know me is sort of endlessly fascinating: oh, look, soandso reads that publication too and thought the article on XYZ was really good, just like whatshisface did. I have cool friends. (ok, so maybe Web 2.0 allows you to be a bit self-congratulatory)

This week, two email messages really brought home how connected my daily interaction with the world is to what is happening online. A message from my colleague here pointed me to the flickr feed of crazyauntpurl to look at a picture captioned: drunk, divorced, and covered in cat sweaters. Though I am not divorced, she figured I might find it funny. What she didn’t know is that I read crazyauntpurl’s blog and have for a few years, but that I had never looked at her flickr feed. And I got the joke about the cat sweater.

And then, even cooler, both my husband and a friend on Facebook pointed me to the Salt Lake City Tribune article that profiles Anna Neatrour, a U of U librarian who is part of the team behind “Fake AP Stylebook” on Twitter. They were both giving props to Anna. What Dale didn’t know, and Mel couldn’t have known, is that I’ve been following that Twitter feed for months. So, I wind up feeling confirmed in having chosen a “hot topic” Twitter feed and pumped for Anna, who is part of something truly funny and getting recognized for it.

Like I said, all of this can provide occasion for self-congratulatory posturing, a la, I’m too cool for school. But a more charitable view is that these formats allow for both the expansion of one’s circle (in friending someone or following a feed, you are at least aware of what people you may only know casually are up to, or what direction the Zeitgeist is pulling them) while at the same time confirming the face-to-face sympathy and sense of goodwill you have experienced with a group of people outside IRL. (I don’t think I’ve ever typed IRL before and meant it that way. . . .this obviously has to be my one and only reminiscence on the meta-internet thing). I have not been drawn to FB or Twitter in order to try on an alias or some other role, as I suppose some people have, and I find it interesting and comforting that, without any effort from me, my “private” interests are slowly coming back at me as input from the realm of social media. Pretty cool.

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Written by Jennifer

April 27, 2010 at 8:35 pm