Before social media, we mostly shared our favorite findings by email with various groups of friends. The baseline model for this was pretty terrible. You would find an amusing joke or humorous story on the internet, then you'd send it to a group of your friends who would each then have a copy. Then they would send it to groups of their friends who would get a copy (sometimes not the first). Then those friends would...
If we were really sophisticated in those days, we'd share the content with a mailing list or a "mail alias" and the mailing list manager could suppress the massive copying through filters and digests. Later on, we used "forum managers" to upload the file once, then share only the link in email.
Today the more compelling content we're sharing (although the lame jokes are still in evidence) is the emergence of thinking on various aspects of the question, "just WHAT are we doing?" This covers a lot of ground, because "what are we doing" can apply to numerous areas of human endeavor. They may range from how we use the Internet to how we govern ourselves.
What this has to do with you is this. You are now a part of the Internet yourself as a function of what you look at, what you read, what you share with your friends, and what you appear to like. How actively you participate in this "thought economy" is given by how much you contribute to a number of key social media platform systems.
If you "Like" things at Facebook, you are actively participating. If you Digg, or Tweet, or share the link at MySpace... those are also ways to take direct action and participate. But even more simple acts such as submitting a Twitter Search (like http://search.twitter.com/search?q=%23edchat - which finds messages that contain the tag "#edchat"), or commenting on a friend's Facebook update, can also contribute information that is used to form the information space. What you search for, what you look at, and what you interact with are all part of a new, fascinating layer in the orb of human knowledge.
Your active participation in this realm can be focused by using systems such as Digg or Delicious.
We use Delicious ourselves, and before we get all excited about what it does for us, we must acknowledge that it is not the only system of its type. So if you know about another tool or system that does these same things, then that's great. The goal is to have access to these abilities.
Delicious allows us to do a number of interesting things.
- Save a set of bookmarks in a secure place online and access it from any web browser
- Create a collection of related links and refer to them with a single keyword (or a keyword equation)
- Create a keyword "heat map" (a Word Cloud) from your keyword use
- Share a single link with a group of friends in your community
- Share a bundle of related links with a friend or group of friends
- Search through links that have been suggested by others (maybe a filtered group)
You can interact with Delicious to see what it's all about without having to create an account. Simply drop in and do a little searching to see what people are recommending that's related to your search.
Then, if you create an account for yourself (If you have a Yahoo! account, then you've already got a Delicious account too) and begin to add bookmarks, connect to friends who also have accounts, and interact with other folks' content on the system, you'll begin to establish information that will contribute to what we know about that question, "just WHAT are we doing?"