Last year, at PodCamp Boston, Chris Brogan was playing with what Citizen Journalism meant, and how to create channels of meaningful content. He founded Grasshopper New Media, and it has some great channels of content, run by intelligent and dedicated people, all working for passion over profit.

At PodCamp, I learned how important it was to add a blog into my repertoire of new media skills. Since the web and search engines are driven by text and those boolean searches I first encountered in law school, having a text based format to any audio or visual media will make it easier to find. Now, three separate blog projects later, I feel I am doing more writing now than I ever did when I was working on my book project pretty much full time. The heart of the blogs is not only self-expression, it’s also about trying to build a community around a subject matter as broad as parenting, or as narrow as learning disabilities.

Then came my next step-reading and commenting on blogs. Then I started joining communities like MySpace, FaceBook, and Twitter. Now Pownce.

Lynette Radio posted about Social Media overload recently. I agree. There’s simply too many things on my “should do” list regarding optimizing the ability to be seen on the web, to make it seem possible to ever get truly optimized. It’s a continual struggle not only to keep up with all these services, but to keep up with friends and family in real life. And I’m also finding I’m talking to the same core group of friends through all these channels, and haven’t yet really experienced much of a spreading out or connection to new people. It’s really just become a way to keep track of my friends and virtual colleagues over time and space.

I’ve been a part of a couple of parenting social media communities, including Maya’s Mom, Minti, and the Parents magazine social media site. I contribute from time to time to Gather. Some of these communities seem vibrant; others are dull. One was just infected by a troll festival. I receive newsletters and feeds from several sources. I’ve joined groups started by some of my friends. Oh yeah, and I’m speaking at BlogPhiladelphia and am lead organizer of PodCamp Philly.

Chris Brogan talks about extending the conversation and getting outside of the New Media fishbowl. I find I meet the best people at events like Podcasters Across Borders or at PodCamp- people I might have heard of online, but after sharing a cup of coffee, we become real friends, no longer limited to the virtual world. Yet how can I keep up with all of these people all the time? The answer is a simple- you can’t.

This means the continual partial attention disease will start to take hold, unless you learn to turn some of these things off.  You’re going to have to decide which channels to pay attention to more than others.

You’re going to have to make choices about your level of involvement in some communities, and decide which are most valuable to you than others.  The bottom line-  We have to make choices about where to spend the limited resources of our attention.

This means setting a few goals and working towards them incrementally, rather than just going with the flow/drinking from the social media firehose.

This means evaluating where your time and energy add value and where it is just another piece of information to deal with, for you and for others.

The bottom line is that for me, I would rather have close friends that I know, like, respect and can call on when needed, than an infinite number of acquaintences.  I like knowing about lots of people, but I value knowing a few very well even more.

What do you think?  Where is all this social media stuff going?   When is it just more distractions and less “optimization” of your life?

Maybe Julien knows. If you do, Jules, or anyone else- please share.  We need all the help we can get!