Open Thread Wednesday: Social Network and Community Overload

No Facebook - Blessington St, St KildaEarlier this month, I attended THATCamp Leadership, an unconference at the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University. I love this type of event as a chance to pick up new ideas and reconnect with people I normally only “see” online. The event showed off the cool new community features of the THATCamp website: friending, favoriting, and other social tools. We were also pointed towards the growing community of MLA Commons, a community space for members of the Modern Language Association.

I have an account on the THATCamp site–and MLA Commons. My “Forums” filter on Gmail fills up regularly with updates from several disciplinary mailing lists. And those are just the specialized networks Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Foursquare, and probably several I’m forgetting.  Many of those go mostly unchecked, a reminder of the fact that I only have so much time for scanning updates and looking for resources and inspiration. And of course, this also doesn’t include all the internal networks we use at our own universities. Just looking at this list, I’m not surprised that some people still avoid the potentially daunting timesink of navigating social media, despite the many rewards.

Many of us at ProfHacker use social media constantly for our professional community and our teaching: Natalie Houston has a great roundup of social media posts and resources. Ryan has some great advice on unfriending for sanity on Facebook, but I find it’s harder to walk away from entire networks.

THATCamp reminded me that the networks I prioritize are the ones that I think give me the most value, but I often base that more on time invested than any real assessment. Something like MLA Commons (which requires logging in and exploring) doesn’t integrate in my day as easily as my routine of keeping up Tweetdeck in the background. So for the next month, I’m making a conscious effort to track my time spent on different networks (following some advice from Natalie) and keep an eye on which communities really offer something for the time invested. During the holiday, I expect to be deleting a lot of accounts.

How do you decide what social media and community sites to invest in your time? Share your strategies for managing network overload in the comments!

[CC BY 2.0 Photo by Flickr User Alpha]

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