Website and social networking sites

Different spaces, different purposes

This piece is a snapshot of how I feel about using social networking sites or social media, in particular Google+, in contrast to this site that I maintain. It is not really a firm opinion on the subject or an exposition of the principles that I operate on, but rather a memo to myself.

To put it in a simplified manner, I treat social networking sites as sounding boards and places for discussions, whereas I think of this site as my own space where I place my writings and images, and as such the website has much more of, shall we say, an auteurist feel to it. Perhaps I am pretty odd, but I feel that platforms such as Google+, Facebook, and Twitter are more neutral grounds to discuss and debate, than for example a comments section on a website. I used to have a comments plug-in on the pages, but when I mismanaged a transfer when restructuring the site, I decided not to install it again. It is a weird distinction, since both are public places, yet social networking sites feel a lot more public than engaging on this site. It may be that I have a strong attachment and affinity to this site, thus have grown protective of it, since I have had it in various guises for many years, and I code it by hand, making it laborious and inefficient, but also a labour of love.

Another way to put it is that this site are like a series of markers that I place, or a series of dots. These are set at particular junctures of time, rather than a part of a continual flow. While thoughtless and rough the articles on this site may be and they often are, I attempt to spend a little more time into drafting them than say a post on a social networking site. Another way to put it may be that additions on these sites are events, not the flow, and a bit like set pieces or speeches than a conversation. And above all, I really do not want to lose the content on this site: this is not to say that I would be indifferent if I were to lose the data and connections on social media, but I would feel the loss of content on this site more keenly.

In contrast to this site being composed of dots, social media platforms – in my case primarily Google+ which I use quite intensively – are like a line, where conversation and fluidity are the main characteristics. It is a great place to discuss thus develop ideas. Many times I have found myself changing my mind or opinion after a discussion or a conversation, because someone has presented a convincing case that was not my initial view, or because someone has come up with a view or an angle that I had not thought about. As mentioned earlier, it feels like a more public place, rather like a market or an exchange, perhaps a cafe, where people come and go, and discuss things, whereas comments on this site would be inviting people around to my house to discuss and debate.

In an ideal world, the two will work well with each other in a kind of virtuous circle: an article on this site, shared on social networking sites, can start a discussion, that in turn leads to another article that is based on the discussion. Thus the dots and the line are linked. Ideas do not develop in a vacuum, and I do not know a lot and I am often wrong, so it is always good to have my thoughts tested, hopefully in a friendly and constructive manner. I cannot see myself abandoning this site, and move over to Google+ for example, but equally I cannot see leaving Google+ to concentrate on this site: I just have to become better at making the virtuous cycle work better.