I am ruminating on Con’s entry yesterday and not sure I quite have the words yet. A familiar space has gone and I’m not sure if it’s me or the space. I commented on an absence of conversational engagement but that’s not quite right and I want to say some sort of silo-ing but I am unclear where the silos are, or even if they’re generational of sorts.
10 years ago, 15 years ago, perhaps more, there was the fun of the new and a large bunch of folk all trying out new things together. It started out slow: 1 then a few, then a few more, then at some point or other it hit critical mass. It seemed to be cross generational and by generational perhaps I mean to say cohorts or tribes rather than age specific as groups picked up and came on board.
Newgrad stuff took off too. None of those original bunches are newgrad anymore: some are mid career, some top career, some retired, some moved on entirely. Twitter is sort of a bunch of familiar faces with occasional new folk but nothing revolutionary.
Perhaps the wave of social media excitement has crested and folk are tired. Then again, #blogjune seemed to start initially as a means to revitalisation. Recognition then, that we were falling off. The number of friends I have on facebook doesn’t change a lot whereas twitter is more public with chopping and changing. I keep trying instagram but it lacks traction for me. I initiate stuff on facebook but mostly respond on twitter. 2-3 forums seems to be about my limit.
Other folk do other things. Perhaps we now are the “old folk”, “old guard”, the folk we railed against and our approaches are less relevant. Perhaps we didn’t rail at all and that was a convenient ploy. An aspect of me and who I am is the struggle to easily establish new friends; friending people takes years. Perhaps that limits my ability to engage these days.
We are more careful these days, watching what we say, what we do. Comments in jest can be misconstrued, quoted out of context later. Everybody is in our spaces now, everything recorded. It’s tricky to find the right size space; a space sufficiently large for conversations by multiple players but not too large that conversations get drowned out and forgotten. Large enough to have a flow of people without being a quickly flowing river.
The fun has gone, but habits of community and communication remain. I have been here before. I had a decade or so swept up in the glories of usenet for online discussion across the late 80s and 90s. Then there was a pause for a while and then social media and public access took off. Different people for different times.
Perhaps pauses are natural as we stroll.
I was having a very similar conversation this morning, talking about how blogjune has reconnected me with a lot of voices that I’d read regularly during that fabled ‘golden age’ of library blogging (if ever there was such a thing) where we were bold, frank and fearless in tackling a lot of the big questions in our blogs, but was also very conducive to making social connections. That doesn’t happen so much anymore.
I do agree that a lot of the online discourse in professional circles is much more careful and measured these days. And yes, I also agree that fun is absolutely important. Some might say that it’s absolutely essential – after all, professional development is all well and good for its own sake, but having fun and connecting socially is a much better motivator – and helps prevent burnout and disillusionment!
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