July 13th, 2008
Recently we, as a collective internet populace, have become very good at republishing our comments, images, and other life streaming features to multiple platforms.
Our status updates are the most common, with Twitter (and for the early adopters, FriendFeed) being the easiest and most common to republish elsewhere. Some of the common places to push your updates to are the darlings of years past, LinkedIn, Facebook, Skype and of course the common blog to name a few. Most services offer a way to either push or pull these updates, so we tend to forget that when we speak in these micro mediums, we do not just speak to our friends on that stage, we speak across all our stages at once.
For me, I have all but forgotten Facebook, which stopped being interesting for me a while ago as it loaded up with applications that felt more like spam than fun. However, I still have my updates pushing there from Twitter, so for anyone who is a friend on Facebook and isn’t aware of my twitter account, it appears I am a very active Facebook status updater.
This is all well and good in that we have finally learned the lessons of write once, publish everywhere, which is surely one of the benefits of being digitally connected in this world. But what of the nature of this echo talk?
When I have my comments echoed to Facebook, the words are not written for Facebook, they just end up there. In fact, as I alluded to earlier, it is a place I often forget is even getting my updates. Without the targeted voice, we also stop listening to the responses and with this I start to see a weakness in the trend.
What we have is ghosts in the social networks, echoes of something that was said in another place being brought out of context.
Of course, FriendFeed has sought to rectify this to some extend by denoting the source of the information, setting itself up as the place to collect all your disparate conversations with the digital world. Google also has some strategies to clean up this fragmentation and duplication with Open Social and similar endevours to connect the disjointed networks with one framework. But those are the big bucket solutions, It is the trailing echoes in the networks that we no longer use that becomes the ghost.
Perhaps it is time that we stopped trying to talk to everyone (as pro-blogger Jason Calacanis has pledged to do recently), and concentrate on talking to the few important ones. The social capacities of the internet have opened us up to more new connections than we will ever need (and many that we didn’t want in the first place), but it is a seriously powerful tool for passing new information, which we now see at close to real time, and the concept of public sharing over commercialism seems to be gaining momentum at the individual level as a result.
I can deal with echoes and ghosts for the time being, as long as I give pointers to where I really exist, but the validity of various platforms seems to wane now based not on the number of accounts, but by the number of users who use it to keep up with their contacts. It becomes our telephone address book (and in some cases really becomes our telephone address book) for the 21st century.