The Social Everything

by librarianincognita ~ July 30th, 2011. Filed under: Reflections.

(Note: If you don’t have a sense of humour, please don’t read this post and do your readings instead – it will probably be better time spent)

I’m on a roll, third blog post for the week… I’m not on the ball, I’m just inspired to be irreverent, which happens when you take two online classes and ask yourself why you are spending so much time indoors when there is so much sun OUTdoors. On days like these, I also reflect only the disjunct between school and what happens in the working world. So much of school work is hypothetical which is good for thinking about things but there is always this thin line where you know you have crossed when you start obsessing over how many blog posts you have made for the week, how many tweets you have tweeted and of course how many wiki edits you have made.

Thankfully, my ability to be irreverent shows that I am not there yet.

Let’s talk about “the social everything” – a term Anita and I coined today over a delicious dim sum meal (great moments of epiphany happens over food) where we were engaging in social food bonding. Social is big business, the social web, social media and if we go towards the internet of things, you might even have social household appliances! Many companies are realising the power of social media and are leveraging on it to reach out to more people either through direct advertising on social media platforms or creating a social media presence for themselves to engage people beyond the transactional. Social is the new business buzz word.

However, social is nothing new, it has just been given a new face. In China, businessmen secure deals over dinner and drinks, mutual partnerships have their roots in good business relationships, good customer service is about building good relationships with your clients; building relationships is intricately linked to building good social networks and not necessarily online. One of the dangers of social media is the assumption that if you are on it, you are building relationships. That is only partially true. Social media cannot replace real world interactions – the irony is that the convenience of it sometimes devalues the effort. It’s as simple as wishing a friend Happy Birthday over Facebook as opposed to sending a physical birthday card. Social media can be a start, a gateway but if you want meaningful relationships, you have to put in more effort than typing words over the internet.

Likewise physical classes as opposed to online classes. While there are benefits to online classes, they cannot replace physical classes in the area of relationship building. At the end of the day, content will only take you so far and if you have all the content in your head without the social skills to make it relevant to the people around you, you will only achieve limited success. It is better to have less content and more social skills than more content and less social skills (unless you want to become an academic). Getting the best grades, rushing to be first, proving yourself academically is only going to get you a piece of paper at the end of the day. Everything else after is social.

6 Responses to The Social Everything

  1.   Dean

    I enjoy your blogpost(s) and think you are working towards a unique voice. This is the essence of good blogging.

    Learning how to be a librarian cannot be done online. I would like to teach LIBR559M in a F2F context. I think, for example, our discussions would be richer and our interactions more substantive.

    What I have enjoyed about the online version of this course is being able to interact with archivists and librarians in other library schools. This doesn’t make up for the limitations of online learning but I still enjoy getting to know students in other geographic areas.

  2.   Lea Edgar

    Thank you for recognizing the limitations to online course work and having the courage to say it on your blog. Every person I met at SLAIS and talked to about online courses say that they dislike them. The social part of it is a bit unnatural. Honestly, I am not a naturally social and outgoing person (can you tell? lol). So it is equally difficult for me to act as though I am in an online setting. In a class, I enjoying listening to other people discuss issues and I pipe up when I disagree or feel like I can contribute positively by adding something to the conversation. But online courses force you to say something, not only “something”, but a comment well thought out enough to put to writing – which is not what generally happens in a real class where discussions are more organic.

    You also make a good point about the social always being there, and technology is just putting another face to it. I completely agree. That is why I cannot understand why people say and do things online that they would not do in public in the flesh. To me it is largely the same.

    Well I will put an end to my rambling, I just wanted to say that I enjoyed your post and your sense of humor! 🙂

  3.   librarianincognita

    Hey Dean, to be absolutely fair, it makes sense for LIBR559m to be online because so much of is well… online. I also fully understand the benefits that online classes provide because there are people who need that flexibility because of geographical restrictions and classes can potentially have more diversity like you said. However, F2F conversations are more dynamic, richer and potentially more engaging because it flows – there isn’t this time lapse which can be destruptive. Additionally some comments are meant to be said and not recorded for all eternity online – a joke, a passing reference – these add colour to conversations but the perspective of distance takes these out. Because everything you say stays, one would naturally police one’s statements more.

  4.   librarianincognita

    Lea, it’s so funny how the dislike that everyone feels doesn’t come out as much in online classes but only f2f when we are talking about them. I can’t tell whether you are social or not and you see, that’s what bugs me, I can’t really place people’s personalities accurately or it is only a partial view. I would love to meet you in person as well as every other person from SLAIS in the class. It makes a difference when you can place a face and personality to the name.

    Your statement about forced comments is so true – because it is no longer as organic, sometimes things are said for the sake of being said and everyone has to read them even though that something may have been said in slightly different words by someone else. It’s akin to flogging a dead dog sometimes.

    Lastly, you are not rambling! Thanks so much for commenting. I enjoyed this mini discussion which is a lot more organic.

  5.   gregferg

    I was intrigued by your comment: “One of the dangers of social media is the assumption that if you are on it, you are building relationships.”
    I think the opposite is also true: If you’re not on it, people may think that you’re not building relationships.
    Either way, assumptions about peoples’ habits can only be established accurately by interacting with them.
    I do question the necessity for direct interaction, though. I think that video communication can go a long way to providing an experience that can rival actual contact, especially as the video quality and portability improves.
    Also, I really like the blurring of the lines and identities that occurs through augmenting the personal interaction through some sort of virtual filter. Through art and augmentation emerges a persona more real than the original. Sort of like how acting can create more real situations than most tedious everyday experiences. Maybe the term ‘more real’ is the wrong thing to say, but I hope you catch my drift. The facsimile concentrates and focuses reality into something more poignant and significant.

  6.   librarianincognita

    Hey Greg, I do understand your drift, especially when you refer to how acting can create “more real” situations. What makes it “more real” in a sense is how distilled into pure experience it is. The tediousness of everyday is often a compendium of many lackluster experiences but when isolated by “filters”, you get something more concentrated and like you said, poignant and significant. In that sense, virtual reality can have very intense hyper-real moments. Concepts of reality are tricky because what is the real world? You are right about the reverse of one being perceived as not building relationships when not on social media also being true. These days, the virtual world can be as real as the physical world.

    Two sides of the coin… just which side you prefer. I like both but if I could only choose one, I would choose the physical world because there are many things that even video cannot provide, especially the sensory – the sense of touch, the sense of smell – small and almost insignificant things like mannerisms, vibes, these help me understand a person better.

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