Recently I attended a conference in Raleigh-Durham.  The topic of “social networking” seemed to be on everyone’s minds, including services such as Twitter, Second Life, del.icio.us, Facebook, MySpace, and more.

Social Bookmarks: I can see the benefit of creating social bookmarks and using a service such as del.icio.us.  By creating a searchable bookmarks page online,  not only can you visit your bookmarked websites from any computer that has access to an Internet connection, but other people can see what it is that you find to be interesting.  This is a good way for colleagues to stay abreast with each other’s research.

Second Life: This 3-D virtual world seems to me to be a little bizarre as well as time consuming, but I can certainly see the advantages of being able to meet with others in a virtual environment and share in communication.  You can go sit down (virtually) next to other virtual people, watch a movie or view a presentation, and then discuss with others issues that surround the presentation.  Pretty neat way for people to come together and communicate or collaborate.

Twitter: At first, this seemed to fall into the category of stupid activities, in my opinion.  After reading more about it, I read that other people usually feel that same way at first.  Now, I find that it’s interesting to read what other people are doing throughout the day, as well as post some of the activities that I have been accomplishing throughout the day.  This is a form of micro-blogging, and each “tweet” is 140 characters or less.  It would be fun to see other friends on this service and be able to catch a glimpse into their daily lives.  Also, it’s interesting to see colleagues tweeting and see what they are up to throughout the day.  Tweet me @hilltop_yodeler.

As for Facebook and MySpace, I just can’t seem to like either of these sites.  Any MySpace or Facebook site I’ve ever visited is painfully difficult to look at; they usually score a 10 on the ugly-factor, they’re difficult to read, and they’re full of comments from “friends” who are generally stating nothing of particular importance (but I guess that’s the whole point).  Seems like a complete waste of time to me, except perhaps for people who have no idea about how to build their own website.

Let’s not forget about blogging.  This is also a form of social networking, however can often be a more informative form of communication than some of the services listed above.