Social tech takes more than tidy

The “tidy queen”, Marie Kondo, may offer transformative wisdom for houses and offices, but her methods failed me when I tried to apply them to my unwieldy collection of social media apps and tools. Her method “…encourages tidying by category – not by location” and she exhorts her many Youtube followers to “discard items that no longer spark joy.” But my collection strongly resists categorization and sometimes the changes in terms of use, pricing and functionality make a a tool unusable – even if it does spark joy!

A case in point – Flickr. Once one of my almost daily ‘go-to’ places (since 2004!) and the source of much joy, became an issue for me many years ago when Yahoo bought it. Their unwieldy handling and then outright neglect made me step away but I couldn’t quite make myself cancel my account. Then, a year or so ago, SmugMug bought it and immediately made some fairly significant changes. I had some concerns about the ownership terms and conditions and didn’t have time to dig into them for clarity. So, I stepped back again, downloaded and backed up my photos. I’ve gone back recently and found that so many people complained that SmugMug adjusted some of its new terms to address the biggest concerns – new storage limits for free accounts. Now I have to think through whether I want to find an alternative social photo sharing site, give up on social photo sharing and just share selected images on my blog site, or ? See, not so simple Marie Kondo!

But I didn’t give up on the Kondo method right away. I stepped back and thought again about categorization. I’ve collected free or low cost drawing tools, image editing tools, and presentation tools. Maybe they would be more straightforward to tidy up than a more complex social tool like Netvibes or Evernote? At least they fit (mostly) into separate categories. If I started from the goals or objectives I had for the use of each tool? And, instead of handling each one to think about whether it gave me joy, I could look at the functionality, the possibilities, and what I had actually created or done with each tool? But there are always additional factors to consider. Was I planning on using the tool for my teaching, writing, daily life? Did I have hopes that a tool would prove useful to other instructors I worked with or taught? Could it support creative methods of engaging students? Or was it simply a way to have some fun while traveling or waiting in line-ups? I need a tool for analysis – maybe just a simple table?

Factors1 Joy2 Happy3 Good4 Blah
Useful – teaching or writing
Useful – other instructors
Useful – personal
Stable ownership / development
Well-designed (ease of use, functionality)
Multiple options for sharing, saving
Free or low cost to use
Reasonable terms of use