Sometimes when I talk with newspaper people about the value of incorporating social networking tools and techniques into their websites, I get the counterargument: Haven't Facebook and Myspace already won that battle?
Today while looking for a screenshot to use in a presentation, I had a devil of a time finding the Augusta, Ga., regional page on Facebook -- even though I'm a member of that network.
Out of desperation I finally played "guess the URL" and managed to find this:
Back in the early 1800s a young French writer wrote some observations on the character of American society that I think have something to tell us about how journalists and newspapers should use the Internet.
The writer was Alexis-Charles-Henri Clérel de Tocqueville, and he wrote Democracy in America, a remarkably clear and astute commentary on the nature of American society.
In some ways, we're all multiple personalities based on context.
I am a different person in the context of my family (where, silly me, I imagine myself to be king), in the context of my wife's friends (who think I'm with the CIA because of my mysterious trips out of the country), and in my various professional roles.
So I can completely justify being in multiple social networks with multiple purposes.
But with the explosion of online social networking, I face a multiple-personality problem. How many social networks are too many?
Mallary Jean Tenore has a piece at Poynter.org titled Journalists Develop, Dismiss Digital Identities that includes the predictable "other side" in which a luddite just doesn't have the time.
In this case the luddite happens to be the "editor/opinion pages" of the Houston Chronicle. That's sad, because it's another example of failure to perceive opportunity.
"Digital identity" is just plain identity. Either people know who you are and what you stand for, or they don't.
Get this: 35 percent of all online teen girls blog, while only 20 percent of online teen boys do so, according to the latest report from the Pew Internet & American Life project. This comes as no surprise to me; I have two such female creatures in my household and it's something I can observe up close.
Over the last five or six years we've seen a tremendous shift in power from destination sites to search. Google has been the big winner. In general, newspaper websites have been slow to recognize the implications of this shift, and have adjusted poorly to the new realities.
In the last 24 months a new contender has arisen: social networking sites, which are so "sticky" that they're displacing everybody else, even Google. And again, newspaper sites are slow to recognize the implications.