Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Plurk And Me

Back in September of 2008 I wrote a guest blog on a website that has since changed it's focus. After a bit of creative searching I managed to track down the article and have brought it home to Between Keyboard And Chair. So after some minor changes and with no further ado here is Plurk And Me

I assume if you’re reading this article you may already know about Plurk. If not, there are plenty of other articles online that will explain Plurk. As for the “me” in the title, I’m a 67 year old, retired Public Servant, Linux advocate, computer aficionado, avid Internet user, social networking junkie, photographer and musician (see Grateful We're Not Dead) - all of which I engage in with varying degrees of success. But the only thing I intend to talk about today is social networking: Plurk and me.
I originally became involved with computers in 1978 when I purchased a Commodore PET 2001. By the early 1980s I had my first exposure to what could be called “early social networking” via Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) and I actually ran a BBS out of my home for a number of years. By the early-90s Internet access had become available at home and I started using email and Internet Relay Chat (IRC) to communicate with people.
Then along came ICQ in the mid-90s and I started to connect with people world wide. I used various Instant Messaging Services until 2007 when I was introduced to the social networking / micro-blogging service, Twitter, during Ed Dale’s Thirty Day Challenge. I started using Twitter on a regular basis meeting more and more people around the globe. One of these, Allan Cockerill, a friend in Australia, introduced me to Plurk in June 2008.
Once I saw Plurk’s horizontal, scrollable timeline of time stamped messages (Plurks) along with the drop-down window containing all responses to the Plurk, I was hooked.
Plurk has become my main means of communicating within the social networking milieu mainly because of the ease with which I can track ongoing conversations (Plurks and responses). I quickly came to realize that Twitter was good for making announcement but Plurk had put the “social” back in social networking. I build my network of connections (friends) by checking the timelines of those who have responded to a Plurk, if I have not encountered them before. If the content of their timeline looks interesting I will either add them as a friend (once they have agreed to the request) or simply follow their Plurks. And in turn, I receive friendship requests from Plurkers who have come across me in a similar manner.
The one thing I find within Plurk is a sense of community that quickly builds up amongst the users. You can quickly become emotionally involved with the successes and failures, the joy and the sorrow of these on-line friends. If they disappear for a number of days you begin to worry about them and make inquiries of common friends. If they have a birthday, get a new job, have a baby, get married, etc., you celebrate with them. If they feel down you try to raise their spirits. As in any relationship, occasionally there are disagreements and arguments but as in most friendships these are usually resolved in an amicable manner.
As my group of friends has grown it has become virtually impossible to respond to every Plurk that appears on my timeline. However, there is a core group that I normally converse with, however briefly, each day. I then scan the timeline looking for interesting Plurks for which I may have a response. After that, I must confess, the remainder get MAAR’ed (Mark All As Read). But I do try to respond to every active friend at least once or twice a week.
Will I continue to use Plurk in the foreseeable future? I believe so, simply because of the emotional connections that have developed in this community of users. These are people I would miss if I didn’t hear from them occasionally. These “digital world” friends do not replace those in my “analogue world” but strongly supplement them.
I imagine I’ll continue to build my network of friends and acquaintances for quite awhile to come. And hopefully, if you’re interested, I’ll meet you in Plurk as well.
And if you want to link up with me on Plurk you'l find me at http://www.plurk.com/user/donwhite

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