Earlier this week, I wanted to send a Facebook message to my dancer friends in the Bay Area to invite them to a local event. I ended up manually sifting through my entire friends list, since there’s no way to invite or message an intersection of friends. Similarly, I wanted to post a twitter note to my Google buddies in a particular geographic region, but Twitter doesn’t support any sort of useful narrowcasting, either.
Basically, social service nowadays seem hellbent on having us share our lives and connect with more and more people. I don’t want that, and I’m betting a lot of you feel the same way: we want to deepen our relationships with our current friends, share details of our lives with the friends who are most likely interested in those particular details, and so on.
A lot of the brouhaha over FBs aggressive more-sharing push has been over privacy, but in the rush to protest “ZOMG, I don’t want my mom to know THAT!” the complementary concerns of narrowcasting have been largely ignored. I’m personally a lot less worried about someone finding out something I don’t want them to know about, and far more concerned about burning out my friends with info they find irrelevant and uninteresting.
Is it not madness that I can’t post a note joking about a local politician just to my Mountain View friends? This highlights one of a great many situations in which there are no privacy issues (I’m not trying to keep my bad sense of humor a secret from my friends in Europe), but rather that my friends outside MV aren’t likely to care about this topic. And worse yet, these friends will likely stop reading my posts altogether unless I either post less overall (a bummer!) or magically somehow write entries that are appealing and relevant across my diverse group of friends (pretty impossible).
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I think I speak for most of us non-hermit’y types in noting that:
- Our sphere of acquaintances and friends is growing at an astonishing rate… due to the awesome people we meet online, at work, via friends, from family members, etc.
- We have an innate desire to stay in touch with many of these folks and to share interesting and relevant stuff with them.
- Relationships are not symmetrical, nor are the related communications desires! I may hang on the every brilliant and witty word of a friend, but she may be, um, less fascinated with my mutterings (while still wanting to keep in touch with me overall)
- There should be easier ways for us to finetune who (and what groups) we share with and who we hear from… beyond the scope of privacy considerations.
- For instance, it’d be awesome to be able to tell our computer: “I want to share this musing with my friends who love hiking and are within 20 miles of Mountain View” or, conversely, “Highlight messages from friends who live nearby me and aren’t talking about politics.”
But alas, services like Facebook seem to be lately more concerned about giving people a megaphone than letting them share and filter more effectively. They’re amplifying and extending the noise, which from what I gather, is more likely to alienate people than have them maintain Facebook as part of their daily routine. And that’s a shame.
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What do you think?
– Do you share my interests in narrowcasting?
– Or do I have an unusually large addressbook and/or overly geeky demands re: sharing and filtering?
– Are you familiar with any services that are helping folks connect more deeply vs. broadly?