Thoughts on social media

communication tools, technology

I thought I’d take a moment to share a bit about my personal views and take on Social Media.

Twitter

I am ThatAdamGuy on Twitter.
Some notes…

  • I don’t subscribe to that many people (proportional to the number of people who subscribe to me).
  • I find Tweetdeck to be incredibly awesome.  Indispensible. Before I discovered this program, I practically loathed Twitter. Now after using Tweetdeck (and creating must-read and read-when-time
    lists of people I follow), I actually find Twitter to be reasonably usable and enjoyable.

Some thoughts on why I still find Twitter pretty frustrating…

  • Lack of context: It seems that the vast majority of Tweets lack context, and even I am sometimes guilty of this.  Especially bad are the retweets and @replies (“@pookiebear42 Heh well i cant believe that LOL!!!!!”)
  • Terrible communications structure:  Twitter is a bad bad super-awful-no-good way to have thoughtful or deeply personal or even mildly productive conversations.  Attempts at public conversation are maddening due to the lack of threading, and private conversations are either inconvenient (yet another inbox) or simply thwarted due to the follow-symmetry required (though — thanks spammers! — that’s probably for the best).  Added to this… the low threshold (one click!) to @reply + lack of context typically can so easily lead to content that — to me at least — is low-value.
    • This wouldn’t bother me so much if not for the fact that people still try to shoehorn substantive conversations into Twitter. For the love of dog, people, even Facebook messaging (which I hate hate hate) is better than Twitter “conversations.”  Let me clarify: one-off @replies (“@thatadamguy, my family’s from Bergen; glad you loved it!”) often make me smile and I do read every single @reply.  But if you send me an @reply like “@thatadamguy, can you explain to me how [foo] works?” I will roll my eyes in disbelief.  No, I will not explain [complicated concept or product or philosophy] to you in 140 characters.  Or in a set of 140 character tweets.  Instead, I welcome you to contact me via means that allow for more natural forms of expression.  Like pretty much anything other than Twitter or smoke signals or grunting.
  • Jarringness:  Reading through large sets of tweets still often causes me to suffer from mental whiplash.  Friend is depressed (I think).  Link to a pie recipe!  Angst over perceived privacy violations.  This person is… huh?  Er, wait, this tweet is from… who is that again?  Ah, this person @replied me, but what are they referring to?  I might be able to check with a click or two, but…
  • Short URLs stink.  Yet another tweet is linking to apparently some cool new photo site or an XKCD comic, but I can’t tell if it’s one I’ve seen 100 times already due to the persistence of the infuriatingly-lame-but-necessary-on-twitter short URL (seriously, how many people still get tweets by SMS?  Why can’t twitter just shorten URLs on the fly for those 42 people?)
  • Assymetry of value/convenience:  In a nutshell, Twitter reminds me of Old Voicemail. Pretty easy to leave messages, but frustrating to slog through ’em.

So why in the heck do I still use Twitter?

Yeah, yeah, I am a hypocrite, let me just get that out of the way.  A jerk and a hypocrite.  So I saved you the trouble, okay? 🙂

Venting feels good and it works!  Essentially, I like venting from time to time and twitter gives me a surprising (and probably undeserved) platform for reaching 2000+ people plus random reps from various companies I rant about, sometimes even leading to happy issue resolutions.

Gosh darnit, people like me*: Also, I’ve also found that — sometimes inexplicably — people seem to enjoy my micro-ramblings, and that in turn gives me joy. [*Saturday Night Live reference, honest!)]

*  *  *

Certainly, though, I can’t wait for a better platform to come along.  No, let me expand upon that.  Better, more useful platforms have come along (hi, Jaiku!), but they never gained traction and thus were decidedly
less useful.  Network effect = win, at least in the world of social media.  So I am excited about, hopefully someday, enjoying a mass-adopted platform that provides ease-of-publishing and ease-of-conversing.

What’s that you say?  I’m describing blogs-with-comments? Like so-easy-my-dead-imaginary-hamster-could-set-it-up Blogger or TypePad or Wordpress.com?  Sure, sure, but most of us are lazy and impatient.  Ha!  And yeah, even my curmudgeonly soul has come to realize that blogs and microblogs fill different needs, so I’ve become at peace with this :).

Facebook

I generally like Facebook.  Sure, the ads are usually pretty bad, and yes, what the heck has been going through Facebook staffers’ minds during those many bizarre Newsfeed faceunlifts, but hey, now most of it’s pretty copacetic.

Except for them crippling the people search mechanism, so I can’t find fellow lindy hoppers via Facebook when I travel.  Or do much of anything else useful with Facebook search.  And yeah, those quizzes.
MAKE THEM ALL GET OFF OF MY LAWN OUT OF MY NEWSFEED!  THEY ARE EVEN MORE ANNOYING THAN ALL CAP RANTS! Those annoyances aside, I think Facebook’s pretty cool.  No, really.

I try to log in daily to check through a list of friends’ updates, and while I haven’t seen (nor tried to have) deeply meaningful conversations in the comments, I think they work well enough for some friendly back-and-forth
(and they’ve even helped me get to know some friends-of-friends). Facebook’s continual closedness makes me very sad, though.

Something as simple as importing my (MY!) Facebook contacts’ info into my Gmail addressbook should be doable without ands-ifs-or-butts.  I mean, come on, Facebook; you rudely ask for my Google account username and password so you can rifle through my friends’ contact info in Gmail, but you won’t return the favor? That’s just rude.  It’s a testament to how enjoyable and useful Facebook is overall that I still regularly use it despite the above substantive objections.  And yeah, admittedly there’s that network effect thing goin’, too.

 

Orkut

I don’t use Orkut.

 

Friendfeed

I sadly gave up on Friendfeed.  None of my close friends regularly use it, and it was yet another inbox I had to deal with.

 

MySpace

I have an account on MySpace, but only so someone can’t steal my favorite nickname and impersonate me. I log in about once a year.

 

Foursquare

I am ThatAdamGuy on FourSquare. I don’t get FourSquare.  My ex-officemate politely told me that this is because I am old, and by this he meant totally unhip and more apt to sit in my room and write stuff on a Friday night.  The nerve!  Sometimes I go to sleep early on Friday night and write on Saturday afternoon!

Er, back to Foursquare.  It doesn’t help that I’ve found FourSquare to not know where I am 30% or so of the time; my phone’s GPS is working fine and Google Maps has me in the right place, but FourSquare oddly doesn’t recognize that I’m eating at a pretty popular and long-time Vietnamese restaurant and yeah, I’m too lazy to manually enter in yet another venue.  Besides, have you ever tried explaining to a good friend / hot date / boss / beefy mafia companion / sugar mamma / patron saint / Grandpa, “Uh, excuse me for a moment while I totally ignore you and type into this thing.”  You have?  Oh, you must be a fellow Silicon Valley resident.  Carry on.

 

Yelp

I am Adam L on Yelp.  I use Yelp and like it.  Except for how some people dufusly give bogus ratings like “ZOMG, amaaaazing food and service!  But my girlfriend broke up with me here.  So one star it is!”  But if you read the reviews rather than rely on the star-ratings, Yelp can be pretty useful. I had some fun posting in the forums a few years ago, but haven’t tried it since, so I don’t know what they’re like nowadays. I was Yelp Elite for a year and went to a few Yelp parties, but — being far less of an extrovert than people suspect and not all that much of a partier/drinker — I didn’t find them very enjoyable and didn’t shed many tears when I was downgraded to the hoi polloi a year later.

I’m also bummed that Yelp hasn’t made an Android app, but luckily their mobile web site is reasonably usable.

 

Other sites which might be considered Social

I’ve already rambled long enough.  I use and like Google HotPot, Pandora, lala, last.fm, LinkedIn, YouTube, flickr, Picasaweb, though I’m not sure if they qualify as social sites.  You can find Everywhere I Want to Be on
my Google Profile if you’re really curious :).

0 comments… add one

What do you think?