Monday, 16 January 2012

Why am I here?

No, I know about the Mum & Dad thing, it's not that sort of 'why am I here?' I was just wondering out loud why I spend so much time on Google+ nowadays and used to spend similar vast numbers of hours on twitter, blogs and, rather longer ago now, Facebook.

Twitter I understand. Tweeting is like shouting at the television, except more people hear what I say. It's easy, just type a few words as I'm watching something and get a kick out of making someone laugh. It's also been a useful place to get great links to things that are going on in the worlds that interest me and, with careful choice of who to follow, provided a newsreel that was almost essential reading each morning and still is something I'll scroll through once or twice a week, especially for local news and where the people haven't started on Google+.

Facebook was once a place where I thought I would build a sort of virtual world of Me, with huge volumes of photo albums, blogs routed to its Notes pages and Facebook pages for this and that, events I could invite people to or write about and generally keep up-to-date with what friends were saying. I use the term 'friends' loosely - and Facebook friends almost deserves its own entry in the dictionary. The 150 or so who were in my list comprised a strange collection of family, socially-inclined relatives, ex-students needing help and geeky nice people I met at conferences. And a bundle of others I didn't really know very well or occasionally worked with but added as friends anyway. Now its only use is as the place to post an urgent message for one of my children and I genuinely can't remember when I last specifically visited the site or changed my status as Google+ and Twitter updates do that automatically. The funny thing is that most of my 'Facebook friends' probably still think I'm really active there.

Blogs are great for articles and I do love writing and publishing my thoughts and views. So instead of writing piles of notes and uploading them to VLEs or digging out Dreamweaver to edit my web sites I can simply type, add and publish. Job done. I don't think I've changed how or why I use blogs much at all over the last ten years. Apart from Blogger's recent misbehaviour with page links and the advent of Posterous making publishing almost anything delightfully simple being naughty and nice respectively, if I want to write more than 140 characters and also refer to it again in future then a blog has been the answer.

And then along comes Google+. I jumped in at the very start and now have the dubious honour of being ranked by CircleCount in the top 600 men in the UK. Quite what that actually means I'm not sure but, bearing in mind that there are fewer MPs than that, it can't stay long at that level and I'll surely be plunging before long to the ranks of those who ramble on about this and that and have an average number of followers. But I didn't join to get some rank anyway. Why do I write stuff there? I hardly know any of my followers. Or, for that matter, those I follow. I get a brief description of what they do for most and think they may be of interest in one or more areas of the world I inhabit and they go into one or other Circles. Occasionally someone will have a query so I feel that I can be of help and publish advice or even an answer. Equally, there are some damn fine minds there who can provide answers and inspiration.  But that's not the only reason I'm there. The news is good. Like the Twitter newsreel I mentioned above, the Google+ stream is something I'll scroll through several times a day. But even that's not what it was as I now have so many people in the stream from all walks of life and background that it's neither one thing nor the other. One moment I am reading about some fascinating new ideas about teaching and the next there's a video of Andorra's entry in Eurovision. Or a cat doing something cute.

So why am I here (or there, as this is mainly about the time I spend on Google+)?

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