We’ve become a society that is glued to our technology devices. We continually feel the need to stay connected, informed and entertained either through the television, movies, mobile phone or video games.

I started thinking about social interaction and what are those online tools/resources we tend to utilize to stay connected to people.

Obviously there is Facebook and Twitter, but outside of those two what are the top social interaction tools utilized on the web?

Below is a short list I’ve compiled (that’s not in any specific order), using help from an online poll I distributed.

Tell me if something is missing from the list.

Facebook – 600,000+ million people ain’t bad for a relatively new company. Trust me, we’re all not playing Farmville either – there is real interaction, and real networking happening on the largest social network in the world

Twitter – Interestingly enough this is still a tool used by a minority of the population. Twitter can be challenging to get comfortable with. Especially when the full Twitter Firehose was opened up and clients, like TweetDeck, Seesmic and HootSuite allowed users to see updates in real-time, it’s no wonder how it can be somewhat overwhelming at times to use Twitter. But, even with that – I, personally, get a high percentage of my news from this tool

Quora / Formspring – Crowd-sourced questions and answers; that’s the best way to describe both of these tools. As a matter of fact, Quora is the tool I used initially when doing research for this post. Quora tends to be more professionally-focused with the topics, while Formspring tends to be more casual and inter-personal focused. Both are excellent forums for gaining feedback and varying opinions on a topic

LinkedIN / Plaxo – The business social networks. I segment all of my professional communication, such employment data, business development opportunities, etc and use LinkedIN for those. There are no cute pictures of my kids, quirky Twitter updates, or anything that could remotely be construed as  offensive on LinkedIN. In other words I keep that stream completely “PC”. Plaxo is an honorable mention here because I see that also as a professional social network, but their development teams and strategy has been to try to bridge the divide between professional and personal. I don’t proactively use Plaxo as much anymore, I actually have RSS feeds from Flickr and Facebook that auto-update Plaxo.

Email / SMS – Don’t get it twisted, email ain’t dead ! Yeah no one seems to want to have a phone conversation anymore and they’d rather send a text message, but email will always be a viable resource for allowing people to express themselves verbosely (like I tend to be very long-winded sometimes when writing blog posts…). The evolution of email is happening already whereas we’re moving from strictly desktop, singular location-based POP solutions and instead migrating to those that allow web-based anytime, anywhere IMAP connectivity, giving users the ability to log in online anywhere and have consistent read vs. unread listings in their mail folders. I’m a big fan of old school email ! SMS texting is near the bottom of the list for me.

Empire Avenue – Here’s the real reason for me writing this post. Lately I’ve become fanatically engaged with an online experience called Empire Avenue. It’s an interesting twist to how you choose to interact with people online. Instead of rating someone’s perceived influence, like Peer Index and Klout, what Empire Avenue does is actually rate a persons activity online through a defined list of services (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIN, and Flickr).

Each participant earns eaves for their online activity; consider the eaves as a point system. Those points can be used to purchase shares in other people, businesses, and brands that are online. If you find yourself become more active with a particular participant, buy more shares in them to show your appreciation for their online activity. It’s basically a social interaction stock market-type game where you can choose to buy/sell/trade shares in persons and services online that are of value to you.

Of all these services, I’m seeing a huge attrition towards Empire Avenue, for reasons such as, it’s integration into Facebook with an app page, the fact that there is a iApp that can be installed on your iPhone or iPod Touch, the inclusion of a plugin that integrates with Seesmic Desktop, and the list is growing with varying apps and tools that have a hook back into Empire Avenue.

To provide an additional opinion on the addictive nature of Empire Avenue, here is one of the more widely known tech geeks, Chris Pirillo talking about tips and strategies that he’s documented for participating in the game.

I realize that we are in a time where the need to stay connected and have the capability to rapidly communicate for both personal and professional reasons. The software developers of the world are definitely doing their part by bringing us smarter tools that co-exist and interact with each other, regardless of computing platform. That’s a good thing!

What are your thoughts? Do you use any of these tools more than the other? Or is there something you rely on more than what’s listed here?

[image via]