Thursday, 11 October 2012

I Need Some Aspirin - My Head is cyPOPping

It seems to me that, since Facebook and Twitter started to prove themselves so popular, you can hardly take a breath without another social networking platform popping up somewhere on the internet.

Wikipedia lists 202 of what it calls major active social networking websites but notes that the list is not exhaustive, excludes dating sites and consists only of notable, well-known sites.

Personally, it took me quite a while to work out all the ramifications of Facebook - something not helped by the new 'timeline' format which was introduced some months ago.  But at least I could understand what Facebook was about - what it's rationale was, so to speak.

Twitter, of course, is relatively simple.  Once you've worked out how (and who) to follow and unfollow and how to use direct messaging and tweeting, you've more or less learned it all.  Perhaps that's why I like Twitter.

Because, to be quite honest, I don't have a lot of time.  I work long hours and, if I'm going to use something online, it's got to be both straightforward and useful.  I don't want to have to waste time trying to work something out, particularly if I can't see the point of it in the first place.

Which brings me to cyPOP.  I can't remember how I first came across it.  I think it was mentioned in an article I read, and it sounded intriguing.  It describes itself as "a uniquely designed online destination where meaningful content, engaging conversation, and vibrant images are all centered on like-minded people with similar interests".  It tempted me to investigate further.

As on any of these sites, you can't find out much without actually joining, so I filled in the form . . . and read the initial instructions on how to use cyPOP.  It appears that an interest forum - perhaps equating to a Facebook page - is known as a cafe.  You can set up your own cafe or join other people's.  To join a cafe I would need to search for topics I was interested in, locate a cafe I wanted to join, and click the 'join cafe' link.  Seems straightforward enough.  I was a little put off by the fact that the owner of the site (or whoever had written the instructions) didn't know that the plural of cafe is cafes and not cafe's but, what the heck, I know a lot of people have problems with apostrophes.

So I clicked on the 'members interest map' and started to look for things that interest me.  And couldn't find them.  There was a heading for 'classical music' but no cafes.  Similarly a heading for 'Buddhism' but no cafes.  And there wasn't even a heading for 'antiques'.  The closest I could find was 'collections' which came under 'hobbies' but comprised of three sections entitled 'PEZ', 'Bobbleheads' and 'Transformers'.  On which, your guess is as good as mine . . . or perhaps better because I have no idea what they mean.

OK, so it looked as though there weren't yet many people on cyPOP with my interests.  Perhaps if I started a cafe for antiques, say, other people might join.  I looked at the 'how to set up your own cafe' instructions.  I was told to click on the 'create a cafe' link, then select a unique cafĂ© url, an interest category and then select the privacy settings (public, private, by invitations only) and finally to click on 'Create Your Cafe'.

But what, I wondered, if I couldn't find the category I wanted?  Eventually I worked it out . . . using the main heading of 'arts' and the subheading of 'crafts and decorative arts', I was then allowed to put in a further heading of 'antiques'.  I chose whether I wanted my cafe to be public, private or by invitation only . . . and there it was.  My cafe.  Except it still needed to be formatted - I would need to create discussion categories, provide shortcuts, edit my home page layout, edit the main page add content and invite other members.  At which point I gave up.

If I want to chat about antiques, say, with other enthusiasts I can do so easily on Twitter or on Facebook, or on a dedicated forum.  After all the work that setting up a cafe on cyPOP entails, what would be the advantage?  Quite honestly, I could see none.  So I left my newly created cafe undecorated and unfurnished, with the door still firmly shut, and walked away.

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