This week we are asked to think about social me(dia) rivers and the the impact of our collective online output e.g. Tweets, blog posts, Facebook status updates etc. What do these tiny bit-sized pieces of information say about us?

We were asked to consider the analogy of Twitter as a river – looking at Twitter is akin to looking into a river in so far as there being lots of different things to look at today and then when we look tomorrow the flow may have changed and there will be a host of other interesting things to look at in this constantly changing environment. Also consider that there is a lack of permanence present in Twitter. Just as in the river, what is there today is gone tomorrow. We merely enjoy brief encounters with what we see. This is in contrast to a medium like blogging which has archival qualities and can be re-visited well into the future.

An activity for this week was to take a closer look at current Twitter ‘trends’. I actually cheated a bit on this one… the account I created for this unit is not the main account I use and I was more inspired to try this activity with my personal account as I follow more people on this one.

I felt completely out of touch when I took a look at what was trending – I couldn’t work out what most of the trends were actually about! Some were fairly obvious… The Rapture is obviously a hot topic at the moment with the supposed end of the world occuring on May 21st (nothing happening so far). Many trends were related to this – #endofworldregrets, zombie apocalypse and Harold Camping (who apparently is a Doomsday prophet).

What struck me was that there was an incredibly eclectic mix of trending topics including: Former NRL player Benny Elias (probably popular because State of Origin is coming up – Go the Blues!), the William Gibson novel Neuromancer (no idea why this is currently trending) and Winton (after a while I worked out that this is a V8 race rather than Tim Winton the novelist, which was my initial guess.)

These weren’t really themes that featured in Tweets from my friends today although I did notice an ‘end of the world’ tweet from my husband. That just actually made me feel sad that instead of hanging out with him in ‘real life’ I am in the study researching social networking and he is in the lounge room on his iPhone engaging in social networking. Is this what life has come to?

I understand the river analogy in terms of Twitter being in constant motion and lacking a sense of permanence in so far as the trends and tweets that I see today will not be what I see tomorrow.

We were also asked to sign up for a Friendfeed account, aggregate feeds from the other accounts we set up earlier this semester and analyse what the output says about us. My feed would suggest that I am obsessed with genealogy and family history research as the uni accounts I set up a few months ago have been used purely for my online presence project. Subsequently, this represents just one aspect of my life and one interest and although family history is a hobby I spend quite a lot of time pursuing, it certainly doesn’t represent a complete picture of who I am.