Sunday, June 07, 2009

How the social network operates

Christy Tucker and I have been social media friends for a while now. Our association started in the blogosphere - reading and commenting on the same posts, reading and commenting on one another's blogs... that kind of thing. Now we are connected in several spaces. Thanks to Facebook, our relationship has become somewhat more personal. There is a genuine element of mutual caring, although we have never actually met. There are a few people who fall into this category and, were I to start naming them, I would inevitably leave someone out, so I won't go there. You know who you are!

Anyhoo, let me relate an incident that sums up how the whole social media thing works.

At 22:35 BST on Friday, Christy sent me a message on FB, with a photo attached. The message read:

OK, I know this is a random question, but you've had a knack for identifying plants for Stephen Downes. It's a long shot, but do you know what this flower is? One of my friends just bought her first house and this flower is growing there. She doesn't know what it is, and I'm useless at identifying plants. If you can't, no worries--I already stumped my mom, so you'll be completely excused for not being able to ID a random American flower. :)
It is true, I have twice managed to identify plants for the Downes from pictures he has published, but on this occasion, I was stumped... for a moment.

I published the picture to my FB profile page at 22:37 with this message:
Can anyone ID this plant for an American friend?
At 22:44, a response came from an English friend who happens now to be living in the US, asking what country the plant was growing in (if I remember correctly, she has a background in horticulture). Silly me, I had identified the friend as American, but neglected to indicate that she was still living there... as was the plant. With that point cleared up (also at 22:44), the answer didn't take long to come back:
OK, me again. It's a lamium (member of the nettle family). If you google 'lamium purple flower varigated' it comes up with a variety looking exactly like it called Purple Dragon. The thing about lamiums is that they spread all over the place by underground roots, just like nettles do. Mints are also in this family and, unless you want a whole ... Read moregarden full, you plant them in the pot in which they come to stop them spreading!! Lamiums are sold by garden centres as they grow well in the shade and the varigated ones brighten up a dark corner but they often don't come with a warning about the need to contain them! Hope that's helpful.
At 22:53, I sent a message to Christy saying
Okay Christy, there's an answer for you on my profile page. Check it out.
And that, dear friends, is a social network in action.

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