I wrote this column, my last for CEN, but for reasons I don't fully understand it wasn't published. So have it for free MSS fans.
Web-watching was given a couple of months off over the summer for time-wasting surfing/detailed research (your call). So?
Opinion is divided about social networking. On the one hand sites such as Facebook and Twitter allow distant relationships to continue, interest groups to share news and little chunks of virtual inter-action to light up dull days. On the other, organisations are beginning to ban their employees from accessing these sites during the day because they are time-consuming. I have a number of friends who criticise my use of social media yet, surprisingly, are enlivened by the bits of human concern and news I share from time to time which I have thus gleaned. One friend has kept a huge group aware of the recovery progress of his wife through a huge cancer operation. Posting once a day has been a lot easier than communicating with three hundred individuals.
How do you choose between sites? There are applications that now enable you to update your 'status' (what you tell the world you are doing/thinking) on more than one site at once. Tweetdeck is one such, and free.
Sometimes you get the impression that you have wandered into a world of alternative language on the internet. Plings, for instance, doesn't sound like it should be anything. Mind you, neither did tweets or blogs ten years ago. It is a site that '...helps people discover trusted information about places to go and things to do for young people. This information can be accessed through different websites, social networking and mobile tools and local authority portals.'
Ning is a place to go to create your own social network or join an existing one around a particular profession, skill or interest.
An absorbing exercise would be to google any word that sounds like it comes from a Goon show. Someone will probably have made it a social network. Ying tong iddle I po. Stick that in your search engine and click it.
Tim Davies is, '...an independent consultant and researcher from the UK, writing about young people's participation, social media and social change.' He promotes the '...effective use of social technology in participation and work with young people.' He knows what he is talking about, both at the cutting edge and in interpreting what he finds academically.
As politics moves, apparently inevitably, towards a general election and change of government there are few sites that offer much more than platitudes. John Prescott is a massive tweeter. If you want an example of not giving up then find him blogging at Go Fourth. It's dedicated to securing a fourth term for New Labour. You may find David Cameron's blog interesting – someone has high-jacked it. Visit before it gets closed down. An eclectic bunch of people contribute to the lively debate at The New Statesman.
I get confused (the sentence could end there but stick with me) when I read on one day that coffee causes cancer and on the next that it stops heart disease, or something similar. Shared cups at communion – good or bad? The NHS Choices site has a good article about how to read the newspaper headlines.
I don't plug many shopping sites but Mydeco, a fashion and design hub, has a nifty piece of freeware to enable you to design your own room in 3D.
Useful for church administration is Moo. Here you can customise your own business cards, postcards and other publicity, or choose from a range of off-the-shelf products.
A Google application that can be used well by larger staff teams working from separate locations is Google Calendar. It enables individuals to access each other's diaries on-line.
For those about to travel, Digihitch collects stories, tips and advice about hitch-hiking, back-packing and budget travel. Paste the URL into whatever portable device you are taking with you. Closer to home, Liftshare is a site where you can find someone travelling your way and share the journey.
Previous columns archived on my blog.