I've mixed feelings about social networking sites - they can waste a lot of time, yet for a writer they are attractive. When much of your working life is spent alone, staring at a screen or scribbling edits on sheets of paper, there's something reassuring about being able to contact a wider network at the click of a mouse.
I mostly use networks specific to my activities - two for writers (Litopia and Bloggers With Book Deals) and one for science types (Nature Network). Just like the watercooler moment in a normal workplace, these naturally bring together people with work in common, who can moan to each other about the latest problem, as well as discuss last night's hot TV. But I do also have a Facebook page, which I use less often, but like for its immediacy and the way it puts me back in touch with old friends and colleagues.
Yesterday I clicked on the 'people you might know' link in Facebook, and amongst the people with obvious links and those I've never heard of was someone called Jack Schofield. For some reason, that felt quite spooky.
I first got into professional writing (more about this in a future post) by doing columns and reviews for IT magazines. I never did this full time, but when the activity was at its peak I went to quite a few product launches and IT company events. Inevitably you got to recognize the grizzled pros - the full time journalists - and one of these was Jack Schofield. (For fans of his column/blog, yes he did always have a pipe about his person.)
Because I've rather slipped out of the IT world, I've not heard of him or seen him for years - now here he was. Of course, he wouldn't have a clue who I was, but it was an intriguing connection for Facebook to throw up.