I've just done something "unusual" for me!
Normally, I'm very careful about the kinds of things I download to my computer. I tend to trust only the stuff recommended by trusted friends or I do careful research first before I hit the "Install Now" button on any new application for my beloved "Preciousss" (aka my MacBook).
Today, however, on a complete whim at the suggestion of a stranger, I downloaded the Diigo Beta toolbar.
I hardly know what it's supposed to do really but I'll plod along until I have it all figured out.
Basically, Diigo (pronounced Dee-Go), is a new Social Bookmarking tool - I think! The tag-line for the concept is "You are what you annotate"...ergo, the stuff you read and research, subsequently bookmark and make commentary on can be made available to friends and of course the world - if you so choose. Now people can define themselves not just by how they chat in IM, how they Tweet in Twitter, how they network in Facebook or Myspace, or how they look and behave in Second Life... they can define their online identity just that little bit more by sharing what they read and watch on the net. Being the Wannabee Geek I am, this is a rather delicious prospect. I quite like the idea of people knowing I like reading The Long Now blog or watch the occasional TED talk! Makes me look super hip, with-it cool. Well? Doesn't it? ;)
This is - so far as I can tell - a sort of Web 2.0 version of a Book Club. A really, really BIG Book Club mind you. Or, it's like going to the library, (those big buildings they have in cities with lots of books made of paper in them - I jest of course) - you go along to read books there but can also end up meeting the love of your life behind the Humanities section - well, we live in hope yeah? :) Diigo and other Social Bookmarking websites are like this I suspect. This is literary sharing on a very grand scale.
The interesting thing about the internet is that for sociability, it is probably easier, faster, and more efficient at helping people reach out and make friends than it is in Meat Space. It's true! The judgments of physical appearance, social etiquette, the cultural protocols of simple first meetings are eliminated somewhat from the equation. On the net, you simply open the conversation, not with "Hi, my name is .... What do you do?" to more like "Hi, Did you read the new XKCD comic today?".
The conversations are more focused and immediate and the interactions are less fraught with self-conscious noise. At least that's how I see it for me. I don't have to worry about my tendency to see myself as I think I'm being seen through a strangers eyes! Ugh! That is such a horrible waste of emotional energy and I've tried hard - very hard - to scrap that bad habit of mine albeit only marginally successfully. The social web relieves me of some of that kind of personal torture! The veil of the computer screen predisposes, what I believe, is my TRUE self to emerge through the power of words!
Diigo is yet another tool in this social revolution. None of these things will ever replace the intimacy of first life contact...yes, yes, yes...I do understand all that! I really do! But it does make first meetings so much more entertaining, less charged with anxiety, and it's really easy to choose who you want to spend your time with! You can quite literally "shop" for the right crowd for you on the net. That last bit may prove to be a bad thing though in time. We will see!
I'm not entirely sure I'll become a devotee of Diigo though despite all I've said above. I have a lot of places on the net where I can share quite a bit of my online self with strangers and friends alike. This application does fascinate me though, and if its going to make finding information, sharing information, learning, studying, researching, and simply making new friends "easier" then I'll give it a jolly good go anyway.
At present, I feel like I did when I first landed in Germany last year - more than just a little lost but having just enough of the language to get me out in a pinch. Diigo is very "difficult" to get right off the bat. I'm pretty web application savvy for the most part but it can take me time to adjust to new UI's and tools. For those with barely any Web 2.0 knowledge of even applications such as Skype or Facebook, Diigo may seem like an off the scale learning curve requiring a doctorate rather than basic web skills! It's going to take me awhile before I fall in love with this thing - if I ever do!
If I do "get it" - Diigo that is - I'll be very excited and let you all know how cool it is!
BTW - just an aside: I raved about Dropbox a couple of months back. I am still using Dropbox and it's become an absolutely fantastic sharing tool for larger than average files than email will often allow, with far-far-away friends. A remarkable and incredibly useful application and worth getting. I've been sharing comics, music and bat likes to read ahead on my "The girl who couldn't cry" story, (coz he's my friend and he's allowed ;) and he has been very good and not made any edits to the doc without me knowing so far! hahaha).