I was fowarded (and reminded of) a great blog that I used to read quite regularly, called Girl At Play, run by Alex Beauchamp. I always enjoy her writing style and have an immense amount of respect (bordering on envy in some cases) for her experiences in blogging, traveling, and general outlook on life, all expressed with elegance and eloquence. If you haven’t checked her out, you certainly should.
In any case, Alex had a great post about Negotiating Technology and talks about how with all these social networking tools to navigate, have we shifted from using technology to ‘do more’ to simply ‘monitoring.’ And its true, its really easy to get swept up in participating in the digital conversation, posting to a blog, keeping track of friends on Facebook, etc. When do we unplug? And how much of the information that we consume over these different networks is REDUNDANT?
Alex says it better than I ever could, so here an Excerpt:
With the addition of Twitter, RSS Feeds, and Facebook, I’ve found myself receiving the same bits of information several times over. For example, I used to just subscribe to a blogs feed and access their info that way. But if that person is on Twitter, they’ll also tweet about their new post and link to it. If they’re on Facebook, chances are their Twitter hits their Facebook profile and I’ll get an update there, too. LinkedIn now offers the same. So instead of getting one piece of information one way, I’m getting the same information 3 or 4 different ways which results in an overload.
But what happens if you then remove that person from your Twitter feed? Will they think you aren’t their friend? This has happened to me. People have equated my Twitter removal with a friend removal even though in real life I did a lot more and gave much more support than just clicking “follow” on Twitter. So once you incorporate technology, removing it becomes really hard because of social and sometime business consequences.
So that makes me ask how and when we should unplug, and to what degree? I was thinking the solution may be similar to solving our energy crisis…. I’ve read different articles and heard statements by the likes of Al Gore who talk about how instead of waiting for the next groundbreaking technologies to arrive at our doorsteps, we can solve so much of our energy problems through efficiency.
I wonder if that’s one of the keys to keeping up with the ever expanding sphere of social networks. I know there’s not a huge incentive for networks to ‘standardize’ their information or services, but I think there’s a huge business opportunity for someone to build an app that eliminates digital redundancy.
For instance, as Alex said, I obviously want my network to know about this post, so I’ll send a tweet, which will also dump down to my Facebook profile, and I may supplement that with an e-mail blast (I won’t really, but let’s say I wanted to). Now if I have friends on all three platforms, they’re consuming the same information three times.
I want a service that will know what networks I use and if I’ve read the tweet, delete the update in my Facebook Feed, or delete the e-mail. Or if I get the e-mail with the update, don’t put the tweet in my list, or send me an RSS notification. Its the same problems that were created by having AIM, MSN Messager, ICQ, GoogleTalk, etc. I know there are clients that aggregate all the IM networks, so why not one that would take care of all my social networks?
I think this would go a long way towards helping people be smarter about the ways they publish content and communicate digitally.
What do you think? Would something like this work, and more importantly, is it a viable business model? And what is the breaking point for you? Is there a cap on how many social networking tools you will use or participate in at any given time? Would love you’re thoughts.