Tag Archives: digital world

The Power of Social Networking

In the spirit of true confessions, I must admit that I don’t check my personal Facebook account very often and I rarely post anything. A recent check, however, surprised me and got me to thinking about trends in social media and the power of social networking. A good friend of mine shared a brief post that essentially read, “My husband is having a stroke. The ambulance just left the driveway and I am on my way to the hospital. Please pray for us.” I was taken aback by the fact that she would take the time to make a post when she clearly had more pressing priorities. As I thought about it more deeply in the coming days I realized that she was simply reaching out to her community in a time of need. Her community, in this case, was her collection of online friends, some of whom could have been across the street but others were across the country or across the world. This highlights the importance and power of social networking.


As little as 150 years ago, we were not a mobile society. The transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869, the first Model T Ford came off the assembly line in 1908, and the first commercial airline flight in America came in 1914 although affordable air travel did not come until after World War II. Today, we are such a mobile society that we have friends, family, and associates strung around the country and around the world. One of the ways we keep track of them all is through social sites such as Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

Social Media Survey

In a 2011 survey on social media habits by the Lares Institute, it showed that we are increasing our use of social media and connecting with old and new friends. According to the survey “55 percent of respondents had ‘friends’ from social media they had not actually met, and 77 percent of those respondents had five or more friends they had not met, with 21 percent reporting that they had fifty or more friends that they had not met.” Our networks are larger than ever.

In Times of Trouble

The lines are blurring between our physical and online networks. Part of the power of a distributed social network is that we can put out a plea for help and even if someone cannot help us directly, someone may know someone who can assist us. Combine this with mobile technology that allows us to send and receive updates immediately and you have a very powerful, very flexible network of friends that you can call upon for help or to share good news. It is real, it is immediate, and people often want to help other people in need. This is the power of a distributed social network.


In times of need, do you reach out to your physical network or your virtual network? Which one is faster to respond? Are they really one and the same? What do you think is the power of a social network? Let me know your thoughts.


Author Kelly BrownAbout Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional, adjunct faculty for the University of Oregon, and academic director of the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT topics that keep him up at night.

Always On, Always Connected

I had the chance to camp for the last two weeks at a very large jamboree on the East Coast. While it was nice to disconnect for a while, I experienced some unexpected angst about being out of the digital loop. To be clear, the camp was well connected with wi-fi but I chose to concentrate on camping as opposed to being distracted with the normal stream of correspondence and news. It got me thinking about how hard it is to break out of the “always connected, always on” world. Is it good to leave it behind once in awhile and focus on the process of living, or is the angst that I experienced normal?

Mobile Computing

With the advent of smart phones and other portable computing devices, we are now connected 24/7. No longer do we turn off our computer and go home for the day or turn off our computers and go to sleep at night. Our computers are on all the time and we are on all the time. It is common to see people walking down the street glued to a small screen as opposed to being aware of and enjoying their physical surroundings. On this same trip, I was in a beautiful gothic cathedral and witnessed people engaged with their devices rather than enjoying their magnificent surroundings. Why even go out if you are more present in the digital world than you are in the physical world?

Hyper Connectivity

In a 2011 article in Family Circle, Christina Tynan-Wood discussed the balance between always being connected and being present. In the article, Tynan-Wood describes a recent family vacation to a remote cabin. When they arrived, they discovered that there was no cell signal. Panic set in. She states: “The uncomfortable feeling that we were missing out on something important overtook our intentions to enjoy downtime together.” I believe that more and more we tie ourselves to our network and feel the satisfaction of being needed in that network. In doing so, however, I wonder if we are missing out on the sheer joy of being present in the physical world?

Being Present

I am trying to strike a balance between being connected in the digital world and being present in the physical world. In a May 2013 article, social strategist Amber Naslund suggests that finding that balance is a personal choice for each individual. The author states: “…the way I use my phone or my computer or my iPad is my own, and when I’m the only one affected, doing so doesn’t make me less present, it just makes me present in a different way, on different terms, in a different context. It’s every bit as real to me.” Maybe the secret is to focus on one task and one conversation at a time.


Is being connected 24/7 the new norm? Can you be connected and present at the same time? Have you found the perfect balance for yourself? Do you ever experience angst about not being connected enough or not being present enough? Let me know your thoughts.


Author Kelly BrownAbout Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional, adjunct faculty for the University of Oregon, and academic director of the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT topics that keep him up at night.