An Embarrassment of Riches

One of the things I like about the computer is that when I acquire software for it that I decide later I don’t really need, the clutter the unneeded stuff creates is totally hidden away once I turn off the box.  This is not the case for dresses or household appliances which seemed like a good idea at the time. Those things sit in my house, silently testifying to my lack of judgment until I overcome my guilt and lingering belief that really, they’ll come in handy someday, and finally truck them off to the Salvation Army.

With Web 2.0, though, my failed experiments no longer just live on my hard disk. They are scattered all over the Internet.  I realized this as I considered giving Explode a whirl after reading about it in Tony Karrer’s blog.  Explode is an attempt to bring people who are interested in the same thing together across the various networks to which they may belong. The idea is that if you have a page on Xanga or LiveJournal or Blogger or MySpace you can put your explode widget there, and somehow keep connected with your friends who are elsewhere. I thought there was a tag cloud thing involved here somewhere too, but maybe that’s MyBlogLog. I was playing with it today, too.

I sort of got derailed when Explode asked me to put their widget on my page. My page? Which one?  The one on Facebook? Or Linked-in? This blog? The ones I played with over on Blogger and TypePad? Or one of the multiple places I have photo accounts? My personal web site, the one I built lovingly by hand back in the days before Web 2.0?  The blog I put there a few years ago?

Only some of these options actually permit the addition of foreign javascript, so that limits the field a little.  But the reality is that I probably have 20 some sites on the web, leftover from experiments with various providers of blog, wiki, social networking, and photo services.  I’m not really using any of them all that actively, largely because of the fragmentation of services and of the way the people I need to connect with are scattered around them.  I keep a folder marked “registrations” in my email client which houses the login instructions for all of these places. But the reality is that I would have a heck of a time telling anybody where to find me on the web.  Thank goodness for Google!

The plethora of choices really is a bounty. But I can’t remember which sites do what well. Where should I put the project I’m doing with pictures and heavy text? I know I was somewhere (was it Google’s Picasa-now-merged-with-Blogger?) last summer which seemed up to this, but heck, odds are the feature sets everywhere have changed.

I hate to admit it, but it’s so tempting just to retreat back to my email box. I know how to find things there! The key people in my network are all nicely alphabetically arranged in my address book, just a click away!  I sometimes feel exasperated when customers try to manage their discussions from their email boxes, because our discussion rooms on the web offer so much more power and flexibility. But today, I’m feeling a lot more empathetic.