That's right... social media is catching up with us engineers. But I think the reason why is that being sit in front of a computer screen removes a part of the social interaction and thus makes us think we're still working and doing some engineering stuff.
And the fact that the internet allow it to address a broader audience makes us think of it like an OpAmp amplifier doesn't it? Social Engineering perhaps :-)
My hypothesis is that it's not that Engineers are not compatible with social media, but that hardware engineers are about half a decade behind the rest of the world in this respect. It's important to differentiate between hardware and software. Many software folks have been living on the Internet for a very long time.
Most electrical engineering types that I've known over the years are fine being early adopters, provided the technology being adopted has a high usefulness to time-wasting ratio. Certainly there are aspects of the Internet that meet that criteria and are embedded into the lives of just about every EE. Digikey has been on the leading edge of the Internet and has always been far more function than form. Amazon and many of the other online retailers make many life tasks quick and easy.
The biggest problem that I've seen with much of social media is in its roots. So much of it started with the non-technical youth set or was over-hyped by high-ego'd promoters.
That is changing now though. The 555 contest is a good example. Last year, electronics folks really didn't spend much time with social media. Next year, we won't remember that social media ever didn't exist.
Duane, couldn't agree more. Sometimes I call that the engineering paradox (that hardware guys lag the software guys in adoption). The software guys are in many ways responsible for the user experience, so they have to be involved.
And to your point, hardware guys are early adopters in other areas (I'm thinking back to the EV-1 electric car and the all the engineers who had early versions and hacked into their computers for fun.
By the way, if you haven't seen Michael Barr's useful guide to social media for engineers (Duane's already weighed in!), here's a link:
As an engineer I worried about putting my reputation on the line with social media.
What if a potential employer reads my posts and it hurts my chances of getting a job?
Will my colleagues look down at me if I make a mistake when discussing an engineering topic?
I had a wake up call about my online image after an interview around 2007. The interviewer on the other side of the table said "I Googled you."
What was he seeing? I was surprised to find top Google hits were blogs by fans of my work with incorrect or incomplete information and a vandalized Wikipedia article.
From that point on I decided that I would be more active online and present the story I wanted to be told and not let random people who chatted with me for 15 minutes at a trade shows fabricate my online persona.
All social media is important to be involved with. Twitter give great access to other engineers and companies. Access that you just canít get any other way.
Having LinkedIn account allows others to see exactly who you are and what you have done - itís not just about posting your CV. Itís an important port of your online profile.
And writing blogs allows you to voice your own views, talk about what interests you and will encourage others to connect and talk to you.
It may all means like hard work - but the benefits is having a network of engineers and resources at your finger tips.