Thursday, November 29, 2007

Dr. Bootsie Learns About Social Networking

NABLOPOMO 2007 Badge

I've nearly finished NaBloPoMo 2007, a group enterprise where members pledge to post at least one blog entry per day for the month of November. The organizers made a website with a list of participants, and used social network software to do the job, because the 2006 list of participants was large and hard to manage. Once you signed up for the project this year, you could join groups, post pictures, video, and text on their website as well as your own, and participate in forums.

It sounded great--unfortunately, every time I visited the site this month, it crashed my browser, an up-to-date version of Firefox. I even had to reboot my computer several times, and I run *nix, so that never happens. Thus, Nablopomo2007 didn't show me interesting new blogs to read. In fact, when I was able to view other participating blogs this year, I mostly saw splogs (spam blogs), blogs with but a single post, and blogs not updated even once in November. Very disappointing, but that is often the price of Internet popularity.

In the "Gains" column, I've had no trouble finding something to post every day, and last year's Nablopomo participation prompted me to near-daily posts as a regular practice. Also, this unsuccessful (for me) social network led me to join Ravelry, a social network for people who knit, crochet, and/or spin. I've been trying to figure out if social networking has any use for people past adolescence (literally and/or figuratively). So far, Ravelry functions as it's meant to, and does not make me reboot Debian Etch to get rid of phantom processes that gobble up all the CPU and RAM. Ravelry creators want to reassure us that their project is suitable for adult-like behavior:

Ravelry is not MySpace:

Don't tell Jess that she's Tom. Jess doesn't want to be Tom.

Yes - it's a community site, but Ravelry isn't just a place to hang out with friends. Even people who aren't interested in being social can get a lot out of Ravelry.

Oh, and music doesn't start up every time you turn the page.

I'm not sure if Ravelry is something I'll use much, as I'm not the most sociable knitter, but it's well-designed, efficient, and intriguing. It'll be interesting to see how it develops.

A disclaimer at Ravelry's request-- Membership is by invitation, but to be invited, all you have to do is sign up with your e-mail address, and in a few days, they'll get you enrolled. This is because they are still in "beta" (aka "under construction") and can't handle lots of new members instantly, not because new members are "evaluated" somehow.


Reya Mellicker said...

All the old ways of creating community just don't seem to work within the realm of blogging. But connections are made anyway, almost capriciously. I love it that blogging is still such an emerging form. It's a lot more fun that way!

Elaine said...

My favorite use for Ravelry is to see what other people have done with patterns. My example: I wanted to knit the Mr Greenjeans pattern from the recent Knitty, but I'm larger than the largest size and I wanted to knit it with a different yarn (one available in my stash). The shear number of Ravellers worked in my favor and I found multiple examples of this pattern knit in my yarn and discussions of how the sizing was increased. I never had to talk to anybody, and I was able to receive specific information about the two changes I would need to account for when modifying the pattern. My point being: Ravelry is not just a social networking site, it is a wonderful reference for patterns and yarns. In my case Ravelry kept me from reinventing the wheel and I got my sweater finished quite a bit faster.

Rebecca Clayton said...

Reya, it seems like blog communities develop like neighborhoods or families--by a string of happy accidents. No search engine or keyword tagging would ever have brought me to your blog--it was St. Brigid that did it!

Elaine, that sounds like a great use of Ravelry. I've looked at a number of "Web 2.0" sites and services, and quickly decided they weren't for me, but I think I might find Ravelry useful and interesting, if I can stand the learning curve.