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May 2009
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Social Computing: How I Got Started
Filed under: Computers & Internet, Social Media
Posted by: Tim @ 1:47 pm

A manager at my employer asked me this afternoon how I got involved with social computing and social media.  Coincidentally, I had recently read blog posts by Laura Fitton (Pistachio Consulting) and Chris Brogan (ChrisBrogan.com) about how they first got involved.  So I figured I might chime in as well.

Several years ago - maybe 2004? - I somehow found out about podcasting.  I don’t even remember how.  I soon had subscribed to several podcasts about things that interest me: Catholicism, sci-fi, space, and computers/internet/technology.  The podcasts to which I subscribed would often start talking about different “social” web sites and tools like Twitter, Jaiku, Pownce, del.icio.us, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc.  In some cases I also received invites from friends and acquaintances.

After hearing about a certain “social” tool enough times from enough people (or if something just sounded really, really cool), I would register for an account and start participating.  In most cases, I used the tools just to share with friends & family - Flickr photos and blog posts for example.  But it was Twitter that really generated the most excitement for me.

Why?  What’s so special about Twitter?  First of all, I work full-time from an office in my home, so I don’t get a chance to interact with other people very often during the day.  Twitter became the virtual water cooler for me - a place to interact (or even just listen) to other folks who share the same interests as me.  As time went on, though, I began to expand my network.  As my network expands, I hear about different things that interest me fairly frequently just be “listening” in Twitter.  But I have also been able to participate in some different activities as well through connections made on Twitter.  So Twitter has accelerated the rate at which I hear about the latest news, tools, etc.

One of the reasons I love social media is that it provides a way to interact with people as real people and not faceless cogs in corporate machinery or untouchable stars that site high upon pedestals.  It can provide a very personal experience.  I’m just an average Joe, but I can interact with podcasters, CEOs, entrepreneurs, NASA scientists, you name it.  How cool is that?

Anyway, in a nutshell, that’s how and why I got started in social media.  It happened essentially by accident, but has taken on a life of its own.

P.S., Feel free to follow me on Twitter.

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