I recently came to this conclusion: as an interaction designer, if I’m not actively using social networks, then I’m just not doing my job. It’s obvious to say, but social media is the evolving, messy, inexorable and probably bright future of this business. Its all-comers approach to the creation of content and value is exactly in line with my philosophy for how design needs to change in order to matter in the coming decades. Still, that inevitability hasn’t stopped me from more or less ignoring these networks for too long.
To be sure, I have found some limited entertainment and satisfaction in social networks; Flickr is a good example. But frankly, I more often find them to be incredibly tedious. When it comes to a site like Facebook, whose proposition as an integral part of how we will all communicate, commiserate and transact in the near future is almost a sure thing, the time I spend on it seems more like homework than play. For many months, my position has been: email me and instant message me all you want, but please, whatever you do, don’t make me sign into Facebook. It’s just too much of a drag.
I admit that’s a bad attitude. Actually, it’s an irresponsible attitude for someone who purports to be a forward-looking designer. It’s a disservice to my colleagues and my employer, to begin with, as it basically amounts to sleeping on the job. But it’s also a terribly ineffective way to manage my own, long-term career development; ignoring social media in 2008 is not dissimilar to ignoring the emergence of the World Wide Web fifteen years ago. Those people got left behind, and the same thing could easily happen to me.
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