I resonate entirely with Chuck Matthews. If I'm looking to find authoritative answers to my technical questions, I'll never find those who write textbooks or teach college level stuff on internet forums or social media. If I want to help other engineers (or sound system designers in my case), I find these same venues filled to overflowing with hobbyists and others who apparently enjoy nothing more than flaming anything they disagree with. I'll stick with websites and e-mail, thank you, where these people can't hide behind anonymity. In my work, I could care less what a teen idol had for lunch or who they're dating ... and that seems to be the primary use for pop social media - aside from it's appeal to retail mass marketers. Further, I have no time (or desire to hire an employee) just to find the needle in the haystack of posts from folks with nothing better to do. "Laggard"? "Luddite"? I don't think so. I put quality before quantity when it comes to technical communications. Can you twitter or facebook a schematic?
Maximn, I have to admit that I am biased on social media, since advising companies how to use it is my business. When you say that you find it totally useless is the very reason I have a business. I recently singed on to advise a company on the use of social media and the decision was to focus directly on one platform. The company had been around for a couple of years and were struggling to find the right contacts within their market segment, much less get meetings with them. Within three days of signing the contract, using this one platform, we not only found more qualified leads than they had received at their trade show efforts but had set up demonstrations and potential evaluation contracts with three major customers. We had also gotten the attention of two significant journalists who followed up with meetings. This cost them less than what it cost to put out a press release.
People who find no value in social media really have no idea what it does. Moreover, they are being left in the dust of their competitors.
To lighten things up a little, here is a link to the blog post I wrote in response to the LAST social media survey of engineers by EE Times: 5 Reasons Why Engineers Should Love Social Media
The definition of social networks here might be too limiting... I think engineers might well use OTHER social sites which are more work-like than Facebook or Twitter...
Such as these comments in the EETimes, or StackOverflow and the StackExchange sites. Or even Wikipedia or various code sites like sourceforge and github.
Also, they might have internal social network systems like Jive or Wikis that would not register here either.
Social Networking using places such as the IEEE conference or other workshops, is useful. For other sites (such as Linkdyn and Facebook) all I found was it a quick transition of what can I sell you? That does not help at all. Also, a lot of recent graduates are solely trained in Computer engineering but would like to think they know EE as well. But their questions make it obvious they need some basics to even begin.
So, EE Times - if there is any value in this study, social websites are NOT the place to look. Intelligent, engineering related communication is not possible in the way these sites are set up.
I can't speak for anyone else, but I'll share the reasons why I consider social networking sites a complete waste of time for most technical business purposes. First and foremost, the style of on-line discussions and usenet postings is so terribly disrespectful. Rarely can any discussion proceed in a civil manner for long before someone gets angry with a comment from someone else and drives the discussion into a sad exchange of nasty comments about each other's parentage. Even if you don't agree with someone's position, that doesn't make them evil or stupid. You should still treat your "opponent" with a certain level of respect. (Unfortunately, we have far too many authority figures these days whose examples teach us otherwise.) Second, there is no easy way to assess the quality of knowledge in the on-line community. Conference papers and books at least have some level of authority behind them based upon the use of peer reviews and fact checking. Far too many blogs and discussions treat fact-checking as something that only the other guy needs to do. Until people accept the concept that they have a responsibility to make their on-line comments as accurate as possible, the on-line community will remain a questionable source of reliable knowledge. Finally, the sheer volume of blogs and on-line postings creates such a huge mass of information, that it is difficult to find anything worthwhile in the big ball of mud out there. (My apologies to Brian Foote and Joe Yoder for borrowing their so very elegant expression.) Because the Internet has lowered the cost of publishing your thoughts to zero, it seems that everyone has something to say but so little of it is actually worth reading.
I agree with several prior entries;
I have no use for social media in my work.
I go directly to the forum hosted by the software or hardware at issue. I get precise answers rapidly. A social network would have me wading through tons of non-relevant answers by non engineers.
I'll admit to having a Facebook account, but only because it's a good point of contact for one of my hobbies.
Duh. Because that limits you to those you know. You've just cut off 99% of your resource pool.
Another thing: if you've never tried it, how do you know it's worthless? Sounds like a closed mind, to me. How come you're an engineer?