Do You Hear the Quiet Noise?

Eavesdropping on a conference hall conversation, you can hear people talking about things that bother them and asking for or giving advice. I really think that is why environmental professionals (EPs) go to conferences, trade shows, and sponsored luncheons—to share what they know with a variety of like-minded individuals and learn from one another.

Because of time, money, and coordination obstacles, some EPs are reportedly trying other avenues to network and connect. But it doesn't look like very many are jumping on the buzz bandwagon. Some of the "environmental groups" listed on Linked In have fewer than 50 members, for example.

I'm wondering why environmental professionals' participation seems low. Is it because learning about a networking site is, again, too time-consuming? Is it because Twitter just seems too silly? Are these media tools just not useful or do you just not know enough about them yet?

I am using these tools, but I'm still assessing their value. My Linked In page has about 40 connections. I like getting notices about what my colleagues are doing professionally. Twitter allows me to provide 140-character updates to what is going to be posted on the Web sites, but I need to further develop a following. According to this site's stats, about 40 percent of its tweets are from the United States, which says a lot about what the international community is providing.

The immediate interaction -- the ability to ask questions and receive answers in real time -- is missing. Often, the only reaction from putting stuff "out there" is the equivalent of a blank stare.

Do you see any value in Internet-based "social" networking tools?

P.S. There's something called Digg out there, too. Ken Barbalace of provides his insight on that tool. I omitted any discussion of Facebook because I think it is more of a social, and not professional, tool.

Image courtesy of NOAA Bonaire 2008 expedition.

Posted by L.K. Williams, EPonline on Aug 25, 2009

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