In my post regarding Networking, online networking, audio networking, and direct networking, I described networking, ultimately, as the action of building one's network of friends and acquaintances. If networking doesn't require action, what does it need? I mention that in this context because I am loathe to try to harness the wind. I am also disinclined to limit my network to just one site. This view, however, promises to make life very challenging unless technology catches up (fast) with vision . . .
At present, there is a presence of some kind for the Cop Connection Network on 1) The CCN site, 2) LinkedIn, 3) Facebook, 4) Myspace, and 5) Google groups (and the Facebook and MySpace Groups have a link to the Introductory video). In the near future, I will add 6) MSN, and 7) Yahoo, and will then begin prioritizing a strategy for evaluating the need/benefit of a presence on sites like Xing and Xanga and Bebo and others (I'll gladly accept recommendations, by the way :-). The essential reason for this decision is that I think at some point we use these sites due to habit and preference. Ultimately, there promises to be simple-to-use software that will allow cross-platform postings and updates. I believe it will be soon (about the time that managing an umbrella network like CCN becomes unworkable) that a useful interface will allow us to do cross-platform communication (maybe a translator widget :-). There's more later on this solution, but first let's examine networking in policing.
In the context of networking with those involved in policing, I have learned a few things. For the most part, cops like to be social, but they also like their privacy. Anyone who has ever read any pre-1990 Joseph Wambaugh books can attest to both of these claims, but I want to explore a bit more. The challenge of encouraging many in the field to do any sort of online networking can be tough.
I'm not sure, though, whether the effort that it takes to do online networking is the problem, or whether it is the perceived lack of privacy provided by these networks. By privacy, I am actually referring to a combination of 1) not wanting anyone else to "know my business" and 2) not wanting those who I don't affirmatively share "my business" with to have access to it. The first can be overcome with time - as we get to know people (and their "business"), we tend to share more of us with them. The second is more difficult to explain.
I spent some time working in the area of Crime Prevention, a field that has now become a very lucrative (for others) calling. The focus of crime prevention consultation, as we practiced it, was finding the balance between security and convenience. It was not unlike the method we use to choose a password for our techno-presence. Most have figured out that choosing no password, or one that replicated our username, is the easiest (more convenient) way. But there are people in this world who have the desire to cause us harm (physically, financially, or otherwise) and those people are smart enough to try those easy (convenient) passwords in order to get to our stuff.
So the experts recommend that we use a strong, tough to guess (security) password, one similar to the combination of your initials and 6-digit date of birth shuffled in with those of your wife, mother, and twenty of your closest neighbors. None of us could remember a password like that, so we would be required to write it down, thereby exposing ourselves to those wishing to do us harm that have access to where we stored the password. Consequently, we come up with something that is easy to remember (convenience) but hard to guess (security). In my case, I would intersperse numbers that looked like letters into a fairly long word that I could easily remember -- like razzledazzle (or R@zz13D@zz13, in encoded form).
Feel free to Google that - you can use it as your own password, too if you want . . . I never have.
Note that this method looks remarkably similar to the cyberspeak seen on todays walls and text messages. I'm thinking the criminals of tomorrow are learning their code language today . . .
If that makes sense to you . . . Here's the follow up. Many cops feel the same as I do. We like convenience, but we need the perception of security. It may be that no online site has real security, but at this point in time, the open concept just doesn't seem to work well.
Consequently, this network -- the Cop Connection Network -- will need to exist in more than one location -- like air, our thoughts, and (of course) God. It cannot be limited to one location, as this constriction could cause the network to fail (or at least be more limited than needed).
There may be good news on the horizon, and some of it may be right here, right now. There are indication that we already have a form of hub for our social networks available so we can take the time used to log in to all our networks and apply it elsewhere -- check out what Gmail (or any E-mail Account) can do, with these step-by-step directions on how to:
- use Gmail to post to social networks
- track your friends and their replies using Gmail
- build a "lifebase" inside Gmail that maintains a record of your various friends/connections
- use Gmail to prioritize the right friends and weed out the ones you want to un-friend
Meanwhile, Jay Deragon is providing a glimpse at the (apparently) not-so-distant future, when he notes the forthcoming emergence of a user centric social web portal in which we can manage all out activity -- like a social dashboard. Jay has apparently seen a demonstration of this capability, so stay tuned.
What do you think?