The American Camp Association (ACA) has invited me to run a session at the National Conference in Nashville 2008 on “Technology Tour—A Hands-on Look at Sites and Tools.” Last year I did a session on myspace and facebook to a group of camp veterans who were still in the dark on social network sites. At the end of the session most stayed an extra hour just to set-up their own site. With their camera phone and college aged son or daughter texting them, they maneuvered through the sign-up process, friended their kids and began messaging each other. Several of them have embraced the technology and used it all summer with their staff.
Despite this small cluster of tech-savvy 40+ year olds, most of the camp directors in that age group are not using social media like the directors in ACA Young Professionals (YPs). There is a great technology divide in the camp community that likely resembles other professions. When you are immersed in technology it is hard to imagine others don’t share your passion. Their eyes roll into the back of their head when you start talking about twitter, podcasts, or RSS feeds. Even college students stick to the basics of youtube, facebook, myspace, etc.
Chris Brogan declared that his next 100 posts on his blog are going to be on social media. I hope he talks about how social media can make you more efficient and productive. We know it helps build connections and conversations. I know for the average college student social network sites are productivity killers, especially during finals week.
Technology, for me, is a way to be more productive rather than more social. Facebook connects me to staff and until recently, the only friends I had on facebook were staff. Facebook was more like a business site for me. As more people join facebook those lines blur. Do I friend the parents of clients I see in my private practice just because they ask? What about that random person I met at an ACA conference that I will likely not see or talk to for another year? Tim Street wrote a thought provoking post on friends versus fans. I could relate to his comment that sometimes you will have fans that want to be friends with you and this makes things very confusing. While I don’t really have ‘fans’ I do meet a lot of people at conferences and have a great time once year. Can I really afford to add everyone who asks into my social network? The way the networks are set up currently, the answer is no. Facebook or twitter or whatever is next on the horizon has to allow me to segregate my ‘friends’ into groups and has to allow me to turn off the newsfeeds of people I don’t want to hear about. There was a great article by Dare Obasanjo about how Robert Scoble, a well known tech blogger, hijacked Dare’s Facebook News Feed. I personally liked most of what Scoble posts so that newsfeed issue didn’t bother me.
The way it is set up now on most of these sites, it is all or nothing and therefore I choose to be selective with those I let into my network since I am using them as a tool rather than PR for me as a brand.