Going home(page)

There is a good reason many holiday songs reference the sacred pilgrimage of coming home. Everyone is back – whether it’s a new back or an old childhood back or back with a significant other – home.

In lieu of using the holidays as the another metaphor for real social networking, let’s just jump (polar plunge optional) into another post about the world of social networks.

Mashable’s 2010 rankings show that YouTube is the most popular “social network,” though I wouldn’t be the first to say that defining a social network is about as scientific as my Aunt Janet’s cheesy potato recipe.

She can’t write it down because even she doesn’t know the ingredient ratios.  But we all know cheesy potatoes when we see them, smell them and gorge ourselves on them.  Social networks won’t be morphing into potatoes via any culinary alchemy, but they aren’t new to experimentation.

Both Twitter and Facebook are serving as the fertile soil for fresh ideas about how an article, movie, or other story form can actually be considered “published.”

The Washington Post (bow thy head to the old guard, lest ye be considered unjournalistic) published a story a few days ago consisting of Facebook status updates. Presenting design and layout challenges for both print and the web, editor Marc Fisher said the story has a “power” in an interview with Nieman.

“This is the blessing and the curse of Facebook in that people are narrating their lives in this very intimate and granular sort of way…”

Twitter has been used in mini-movies, comics, short (really short) stories, and in October, a full-length piece by TBD via tweet stream.

According to Nieman, “curated tweets can engage the devices of fiction – suspense, forward motion and characters – in a story that unfolds close on the heels of real events.”

Yet the swirling lava lamp in which social media currently reside isn’t all about creation.  NYT just eliminated its social media editor position.  It is more a move of integration – the whole staff needs to be in on this, they say – than it is another casualty of newspaper high-horsing.

Still, the change is part of this vast, dare I say, revolution that we are experiencing in journalism overall, and especially with how social media fit in our tool kits.

In other news:

Around half of parents are Facebook friends with their children, but that Friend Request is a scary one. This flow chart can make that mouse-click easier.

• Mashable’s list of top viral video ads has some gems. The Old Spice guy with his massive reply campaign takes the cake, but also catch Embrace Life, Guy Walks Across America, and Swagger Wagon.

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