At the turn of the century, the internet seemed to have changed from a mere informational medium to a real-time virtual hangout place. I can still remember in the mid 90’s when the most you did online, besides search for static information, was to chat on IRC. Or join newsgroups (I was big on this one in particular). And instead of a MySpace page, you probably had a Geocities homestead. Today, it seems like social networking is just “the way you do internet” now as reality TV is “the way you do TV” now. It’s a way of life to know someone from anywhere around the globe as if you grew up in the same street. Interesting, indeed. The world seems so much smaller today than it was just a decade ago. And that’s a very good thing in my book.
But much like TV, social networking could easily take up a huge chunk of your life, if you’re unaware. Unless, of course, you consider it your entire life. And perhaps, there’s a reason why it should be. On the other hand, sometimes, it slips our mind that there are other important things we could accomplish for the benefit of our future than just hanging out with, and virtual high-fiving our online buddies 24/7. Now, I’m not saying to stop doing that. I’m just thinking of alternative means of interacting in cyberspace. Especially, the ones that encourage personal productivity. The ones that can actually help lead us to a better place at some point in time; be it spiritually, emotionally, physically or financially.
The web today seems to have something for every imaginable lifestyle and demographic. Both good and bad. However, a lot of times, popularity leads to trends and unfortunately, you get sucked in one way or another. After all, don’t we all want to feel connected? Or even cool, validated and relevant? That’s life, I guess. And so, what do we do? We sign up for an account and join the crowd. Ha!
Lately though, I’ve discovered many new sites that aren’t as hip as the ones we’re normally familiar with. At least, not yet. And when I started journaling online a few of years ago, I never expected any social interaction. Yet, I appreciate that it actually enables you to make friends and/or inspire people with the words you write. Being a creative creature, writing gives me a valid reason to spend time blogging. It is being productive, much like I consider writing and recording songs a true form of productivity. Simply because that’s just who I am and that’s just what I do to make my life worth something.
Besides reading blogs, I like going to places where I actually learn something. Like Yahoo Answers, for instance. It’s cool that you can ask any question under the sun and you get responses coming from your own town all the way out on the other side of the planet. Your perspective is drastically widened that way. You’re offered several viewpoints instead of just one. I love it. And then, there is Lifehack.org. It’s my Dear Abby on living a productive life. Very cool.
Okay, I feel like I could go on forever on this topic. I simply want to share some of the places on the web I’ve been hanging out lately, actually. Maybe, you can check out some of them yourself and see if they can help enhance productivity in your life online, as well. I know it does mine.
Besides the obvious ones (and the ones I’ve already mentioned above), here are some other sites I consider regular stomping grounds:
- del.icio.us – Your browser’s Favorites is a thing of the ancient past. Get on with the times and access your bookmarks on the web, already. Also, it’s cool that other people give recommendations, too. I never would’ve found out about an important link if no one bragged about it. I don’t go a day without using it.
- digg – If you’re a news hound like me, this could get addicting. I purposely try to stay away if I know I need to get something else done.
- Bibsonomy – A place to share publications and literature. I go here to randomly learn about something someone wants the world to learn about. I’m just an information addict, I guess.
- 43 Things – List your goals, share your progress and cheer each other on. Very cool site. I have yet to utilize this one though… I am still afraid to make some commitments. But I try to get inspired by others who have made their goals, persevered and got cheered on.
- LinkedIn – Want a better job, start rubbing elbows right here. Me? I really hope I get to keep my present job as it is the best one I’ve ever had in my life.
- Twitter – This is micro-blogging at its best! I use it to keep up with (literally) up-to-the-minute news updates on just about anything from top headlines to a hospital patient’s minute-by-minute progress. I got it set up once to send updates through SMS on my cell phone until it started ringing off the hook and drove me nuts!
- Last.fm – One word… music. Now, you might not consider this productive, but as a musician, I am in constant need of inspiration. This is definitely optional, just for people who consider music the air they breath.
- Tumblr – I’m new to this one and have yet to make full use of it. It’s a nice little area for showcasing my art without having to explain it in words, I think. It’s a tumblelog, after all. A what, you asked? A tumblelog!!!
- Netvibes – Don’t get me wrong, I think iGoogle works fine. But Netvibes is iGoogle in designer clothes with lots of bling, cash and is fatally attracted to you. I’ve been on it for two years now and they’ve come a long way since. This cool portal helps put everything I have online all in one convenient place.
The following sites, I don’t use but still find interesting, nonetheless.
- LibraryThing – Book lovers, unite! If the library is your regular hangout spot, here’s an online version for you.
- GoodReads – A social cataloging site similar to LibraryThing. Unfortunately, I’m not a bookworm or I would get lost in here on a daily basis.
- StoryMash – For fiction readers and writers. It allows members to collaborate in the writing process. This system of user-generated content pays all authors over 50% of all revenue made by the content they publish. Very cool, indeed!
- CakeFinancial – This one’s specifically for investors. It allows members to share their real stock portfolios and performance with other members. I might use this one day, when I finally learn how to invest!
- Care2 – Do you love the earth? I mean, like way more than your average green practicioner? Then, come on in and join your fellow radicals and activists.
- ExperienceProject – This online community connects members who share similar life experiences. Like, if you’re suffering from depression, or being haunted by a rough childhood memory, you’ll be in good company here. I really thought it a good place to find some kind of healing.
- Jaiku – It’s a micro-blogging site similar to Twitter. Nicer, in fact. But not as popular. And, it’s owned by Google, I think.
Anyhow, I’m sure I barely scratched the surface here. But, like I said, there’s so much interesting places out there on the web, that we now have several means to improve the quality and productivity of our lives… if only we knew where to find them. Hope this helps a bit.