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The Future of Social Media Parenting

The Future of Social Media Parenting

Unfortunately, I’ve found myself following this thought process before when it comes to updating social media. And yet, I still don’t get paid for doing it. Harumph.

The web, marketing and registration at the Baby Show

The web, marketing and registration at the Baby Show

When my friends found out I was going to the Baby Show, they commended me on making such a brave decision. Which seems odd – if I’m going to buy an Apple Mac, I’d think about going to the Apple Show. So surely deciding to go to a baby show – to give us a clue as to what lies in store for the next 15 years – is a no-brainer?

This turns out to have been not an altogether-wise decision. Silly us, we thought bringing up a child would be about meeting its basic needs, and ensuring it was loved and cared for. Oh no, apparently it was actually all about getting expensive and irrelevant nursery equipment, even more expensive buggies that are sold like cars (ie no price guides), and some frankly bizarre stands. Designer clothes for babies? Ensuring your child is circumcised by hiring the CircumSurgery?

There was a huge line to get a free Pampers plastic box. But in order to get it, you had to give your personal details to their marketing ladies. Top marks for getting us all to type it into a netbook instead of filling out bits of paper, but did we really need to give you answers to two random questions? It’s a nappy, not a bank!

There was also a stand promoting a website where dads could talk to dads. Why it needed four people to man it is another question entirely – but maybe one of them should have gotten some spell-checking skills. The website required me to register with an email address, whereupon I got a rather interesting email titled “RESPONCE REQUIRED”.

For a website that discusses fatherhood, it was also a bit disconcerting to find fatherhood 9th on the list of topics, and some boards not updated since late September. The board on jokes and current affairs, on the other hand, is alive and flourishing.

What other baby forums are there for fathers? Is there a DadsNet? Or should I just set up my own ?!

Social networks deciding who our friends should be? Only on Yammer

Social networks deciding who our friends should be? Only on Yammer

Imagine you logged into your social network of choice (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) and discovered that your list of friends and contacts had been changed by the social network to reflect who THEY thought you should be following, as opposed to who you had chosen.

That’s exactly what seems to be happening with Yammer, a social network aimed more at intranets and behind company firewalls. They recently sent me an email that said:

Having used Yammer at work to have a vague idea as to what colleagues across the company are doing and interested in, they decided to send me an email this morning saying that as “My Feed” followed everyone, they were going to unilaterally unfollow everyone on my behalf.

“Here’s the thing: as Yammer networks grow in companies, we’ve learned a few things. We’ve learned that as your company network gets bigger, Following Everyone can clutter up your MyFeed and impair your ability to find what’s most relevant to you.

On Friday, October 29th, you will stop following everyone in your network. Before then, you can start following updates from specific people at *** by clicking here.

This way your MyFeed will be focused on the messages that matter to you most.”

Well, I don’t want that to happen. But helpfully, the only way – it would seem – to protest this decision is to make a meagre posting on their uservoice customer forum.

Disgraceful behaviour.

No buzz with Buzz…

No buzz with Buzz…

So Google Buzz has launched, and I’ve had a quick play with it.

Unfortunately, it’s done the same thing as many recent Google product launches – it hasn’t brought anything new to the table, aside from the sheer gargantuan amount of data it stores about me. And the only reason it has so much data about me is because I’m pretty much wedded to Google, thanks to their still-superlative Gmail service (tabs instead of categories for email! It’s the future, I tell you!) and consequently, me adopting every other Google service there is, including their mobile phone system.

Which of course has its consequences. Within an hour of using Buzz, I found 10 people following me who were total strangers, who I’d never heard from before. This happens a lot more on Twitter (and to a certain extent on Facebook), but because those services don’t touch my email, it doesn’t seem so sinister. But with Buzz integrating with my email account, it does. There is a suggestion that these strangers found me via Google Profiles and that I ought to switch it off – but I’m quasi-reluctant to do that since otherwise, I could disappear off Google search results. (Then again, my name isn’t exactly my brand these days)

The huge flaw, of course, with integrating social networking so tightly with email, is that everyone’s email boxes are already groaning under the strain of spam, newsletters and the other ways people are trying to reach us via email. Adding another system to your email just adds to the risk of people declaring Inbox Surrender and leaving email alone entirely.

Ultimately, it’s hard to see why Google made another attempt into social networking, after the days of Orkut. They’ve built a new private members club opposite the most popular pub in town, spied upon everyone going into the pub to try and connect everyone, and then … just opened the front door – only letting in people who are members of the club. No special offers, no enticements, no new jukebox in the corner, nothing. There’s nothing in Buzz that isn’t already on other social networking sites – and of course, nothing that beats their main enemies, Facebook or Twitter. and ironically, they seem to be quite swamped – picking up blog posts and Twitter feeds from other areas of my digital life seems to take a day.

But like the famed Hotel California, once I’ve checked in, I can’t seem to leave…

iDo take Twitter and Facebook…

iDo take Twitter and Facebook…

Various websites have poured scorn on a groom who updated his Facebook/Twitter accounts as soon as he got married.

The thing is … I think it’s a mildly neat idea. In my ridiculous fantasy head of how I get married (and bearing in mind the fact I’d have friends/family on three continents who would probably want to see it happen, purely as ‘Finally, he got off his arse’ witnesses as opposed to anything else), I’d have to broadcast the proceedings via webcams and the like anyway. So I might as well use Facebook / Twitter as well. Hell, I might as well have plasma screens that unveil themselves as the deed is done reflecting the changed status update, and let people #hashtag about how great the catering was.

Then again, having been to about ten incredibly luxurious weddings (to my head) over the years in castles, manor houses, country estates, remote Welsh chapels on hillsides, museums, an old college – and registry offices – I’m also of the opinion that:

  • I don’t need no stinkin’ wedding photographers. They’re good, but very pricey for it. At least half the audience would be Chinese, after all, and therefore come with ridiculously large and expensive D-SLR cameras. I would, however, need a shepherd to herd everyone together for the required joint photo shoots.
  • I may need a film cameraperson – but at least ten of my friends know how to shoot video. Or I could just wear a helmetcam.
  • Flowers. Pah. Who needs them?
  • Who needs a banquet? Pah. Give me a buffet!
  • Who needs a disco? Pub quiz, that’s the way to go! Or maybe Rock Band, or Dance Dance Revolution…

Of course, I may not be the one who has a final say in these matters…

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