I don't think I've got much to add to what has already been said on this subject, at least by advocates of the use of social media. Phil Bradley has recently looked at librarians' use of social networks: if you haven't read it yet do, as it is a good summary (and not just for librarians). Interestingly, in the very week we were asked to consider this subject several librarians using Google+ deleted their (new) accounts.
- hold on! wait for me! I haven't got into it properly yet and people are leaving already!
See Woodsiegirl's blog post here for some of the reasons why she and others have already given up on Google+.
What are the advantages to social networking in the context of professional development? Can you think of any disadvantages?
Advantages in the use of social media for librarians include the bringing together of what can be a scattered and sometimes isolated group, especially for solo librarians and back room staff. In these times a sense of cohesion can only be good for the profession, and social media can provide moral support for those actively involved in defending libraries. It is democratic: you can become accepted online in a way you might not at a networking event, especially if you are shy and/or not politically minded or looking to advance your career. Online nobody can hear your accent or be put off by your appearance: it is a leveller, in that sense.
There can be negative things too. We're all adults and grown up about this, but the whole following/not following/unfollowing thing can be irksome. I'm often surprised by how many people seem to have issues with their colleagues and social media, but I can see that problems could arise in an institution, as I have mentioned before here.
JISCMail lists are a survival of earlier attempts to provide a forum for sharing ideas and information, but they are less "social" than newer social media. They are periodically subject to lengthy posts which are not always "on-topic", or else rather tedious requests for missed recordings (the list fulfils its function if this provides a useful service to some). The tone of these lists is usually more formal than that of more recent channels of communication. Discussion lists and online message boards seem less friendly than more modern expressions of social media.
Social media can be time-consuming. The boundaries between work and play become blurred. I read a comment somewhere and now can't remember where (bad librarian) that employers used to worry about employees spending work time on leisure activities, but that it has worked out the other way round, with people thinking and talking about work late into the night and when supposedly on holiday!
Did you already use social media for your career development before starting CPD23? Will you keep using it after the programme has finished?
I'm a convert (not an early adopter usually). I've found my use of Twitter professionally helpful but I can't really imagine using Facebook in the same way. I have joined Google+ but have only lurked on it. Having got used to Twitter I'm finding it quite hard to change my habits again and try other things. I am sure I will keep using it and I hope try others after the end of CPD23.
In your opinion does social networking really help to foster a sense of community?
Social networking can create its own "in-crowd", but it is one which is at least in theory open to all, although as time passes and friendships or alliances develop it may become more difficult to break into. It certainly can help foster a sense of cohesion and community.