Interesting article in the NY Times magazine section yesterday on the effects of Facebook and Twitter et. al. in terms of social awareness, friendship, and host of other aspects of how our lives are being affected by these technologies. A lot of it made me think, “yeah, that’s me,” especially parts like:

Many avid Twitter users — the ones who fire off witty posts hourly and wind up with thousands of intrigued followers — explicitly milk this dynamic for all it’s worth, using their large online followings as a way to quickly answer almost any question. Laura Fitton, a social-media consultant…recently discovered to her horror that her accountant had made an error in filing last year’s taxes. She went to Twitter, wrote a tiny note explaining her problem, and within 10 minutes her online audience had provided leads to lawyers and better accountants. Fritton joked to me that she no longer buys anything worth more than $50 without quickly checking it with her Twitter network.

It’s not all pretty, obviously, (some interesting thoughts of what this means for kids which I hope to write about more later) but what intrigues me so much about what the article brings up and about all this stuff in general is simply that it’s different, and that we’re in the midst of learning what it means right now, all together. At the end of the day, that is still the pull of social learning with social online tools for me, the fact that that brain work is transparent. Sure, I like knowing where folks are or getting some snippets of their personal lives; that adds to the picture, no doubt. But what I really like is being able to tap into the thinking of hundreds of really smart, active, engaged people who are willing to share their work and their learning with me on a scale that was not possible even five years ago. (Maybe not even two years ago.) How I manage and navigate all of that to the maximum benefit is always a struggle, but it’s a struggle that I enjoy greatly.