There are now too many ways to interact with people online. I am kind of happy that the Flash of Steel Facebook group never took off, because if it had, holy crap that would have been a mess.
The big new thing, of course, is Google+ and I am still trying to find a way to use it effectively. (My profile is here. I have invitations if you want one.) The celebrated idea, of course, is “circles”, the ability to organize your contacts so that you can have items or posts that are available only to selected people. For example, I have a friends circle of a few dozen, an acquaintance circle that is just online people I recognize from forums, one for co-workers, one for podcast regulars. Great idea in principle, but the fact is most of my life is already carried out in circles. Forums and IRC for acquaintances, private channels and instant messaging/Skype for friends, work email for co-workers, Facebook is mostly my family and very old friend circle at this point.
By all means add me to your circles in Google+ if you are on – it’s a great place to microblog or post small pictures. And if there is a photo that I only want four people in the world to see, G+ is a convenient location for it. I’ve added a button to the left sidebar. It’s too big.
Twitter is my big professional tool right now, and I can’t see G+ really replacing it. I like the brevity it enforces, I like how the stream moves quickly and how I can customize my lists according to client needs or personal interests immediately and ad hoc.
I was talking to a good friend who didn’t really understand why he would be on Twitter since he could never think of anything to say in less than 140 characters. The beauty of it is that you don’t have to. I know people on Twitter who just follow and never tweet; Twitter becomes an RSS feed of friends and personalities for them. You can have multiple party in-depth conversations over Twitter, but it is hard because it becomes a chore to follow where they lead. There are external sites and apps that try to get the flow organized for you, but it’s difficult because everyone is talking at once, not everyone follows the same people and once you throw in private, locked streams it can get even messier.
Twitter is a great place for sharing. I retweet client news, of course, as well as interesting things from colleagues and friends. Every weekend I try to tweet a Youtube video of my Showtune of the week. Should start doing that on Google+, too. The economy of Twitter is why I use it more now, I think, plus the Tweetdeck application means I can have it running in the background with alerts to when someone is talking about me.
The most fun thing online tool for me this year has been Formspring, though. Almost 800 questions asked in the last year and a lot of them very interesting. Questions about games, books, Canada, hockey, a very few about me (thankfully) and I’ve only had to kill a couple for being weird, stupid, drunk or incomprehensible.
I follow about 40 people on Formspring, but only maybe five of those people seem to get questions as regularly as I do, and now I get a few a week without any Twitter prompting. (Kieron Gillen has answered over 3000 and seems to get 30 a day, poor bastard. Mostly comic stuff now and the Dear Abby phase seems to have passed.) In any case, I’ve used Formspring in the past as a place where people can pose questions that I would hoard for podcast question shows.
Now it’s not perfect – the anonymity of it means that you need to be prepared for some level of creepiness especially if you are female; I’ve half a dozen female colleagues who have tried it, most have enjoyed it, all have had a healthy dose of weirdness and misogyny thrown their way. But for me, it’s a great tool to quickly engage with readers and listeners in a public space, no email required.
Not that I don’t like email. I still get fan mail, which is appreciated. Contact information up top. And, yes, you can still write me about the podcast. I want to play more games once the summer crunch fades a bit and be a more active contributor. But if the email is heavy podcast stuff (and especially about a show I wasn’t even on), make sure you direct them to Rob Zacny primarily. You can always cc me on them.
In the future, we hope to organize a proper place and means for show listeners to interact online so you guys can set up your own meet ups, online gaming sessions, board game nights and 3MA cosplay. Judging from how active our comments are, I think we really have a nice spread out community, and maybe we can take that discussion to a forum somewhere. Work in progress.
Oh, and the Youtube channel soon. Had to rewrite the script last night because I had a better idea. I am told that this is normal.
From time to time, I will be blogging a little at the corporate blog. Maybe some general PR theory this fall. I think we are doing strategy games wrong, but I am not sure how to do them right.