I get lots of work done due to systems to improve my efficiency. My mail is meticulously filtered with mail rules. Server data is neatly arranged. RSS feeds for the blogs I read are ruthlessly ordered in Netvibes. I’m hence reasonably good at getting the news I want from the sources I want in a format that suits me and – importantly – it’s a system where how much information I get, and whether to go back over old posts, is determined by me.

I’m also active on Facebook and Twitter, and the surprising things those networks turn up are the equivalent of browsing the pages of a newspaper – something catches your eye. Discovering this piece on Twitter’s great pretenders, thanks to a tweet from Evan Harris, was a highlight of the past week. I saw this because I happened to notice that tweet at that time – 2 minutes earlier or later and I would have missed it. Same – in reverse – for anything I ever tweet or post on Facebook and friends who read those. How do I know if what I write, and when, fits the systems, the everyday habits, of my audience? For social media (especially Facebook and its algorithms to determine what’s in a home feed) is serendipitous and opaque to understand at best.

Where is the balance between the two approaches? And what does all of this mean for trust and networking on the web?

Thinking about this was prompted by the post last night about the fact this blog features on so few blogrolls. The comments on the post were illustrative – 13 comments on the post imported as a note on Facebook and just 5 on the blogpost itself. On Facebook the author of Never Trust a Hippy basically stated that the only reaction he ever now gets to blog posts is among friends via Facebook, or via Twitter.

But surely there are two problems with this? First if I happen to miss a wall post or a tweet, then that’s it, if a post doesn’t catch my eye now it’s lost. I don’t want to keep on tweeting links every few hours, yet no other systematisation strikes me as possible. Second, I would hope that my blog would appeal to a wider audience than those that are friends of mine on Facebook or follow me on Twitter. I would hope – thanks to thoughtful blog entries – to build trust with my readers even if I don’t actually know these people offline. Facebook, and to a certain extent Twitter, are not really designed for that.

Or perhaps, as someone who blogs in his free time, I need to just accept the gist of Jeff Bercovici’s piece (link thanks to Europasionaria) that hobby-bloggers are increasingly just turning to social media and are blogging less, and the place for this blog low down the long tail is just the way it’s going to be. Stats on the usage of RSS readers are none too rosy either.

Overall though, I reckon I’m not the only one craving a bit of ordnung in all of this. Question is how to do it.

Photo: tin.G “IMG_2819 SOS” October 15, 2006 via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution


  1. I have actually organised my twitter reading (with lists) and RSS consumption (with Google reader categories) into A, B and other. This kind of “slows” down the stream for sources that are more important to me than others and I am able to follow certain “feeds” even if I don’t catch the conversation in real time.

    I other words: I might sometimes go back a day or two on my A lsts, but would probably never do that on the B or remaining other lists.

    Anyway, this is just from a consumption side and not from a communication point of view, which was probably your key point.

  2. @Brusselsblogger – it’s an interesting approach! I’ll maybe adopt the same… Problem is that I think few people will be that systematic!

    @MatGB – agree re. Twitter – it’s eating up Reddit, Delicious, blogs, RSS, the whole lot. Not necessarily bad, but it’s very for-the-moment, and not systematic, which I don’t like necessarily. But at least it’s easy enough to work with Twitter as the platform is predictable. Facebook is harder as the terms and systems keep changing…

  3. Mark Pack tells me that it’s a rare blog these days that gets most of its comments on site, Facebook comments are far more likely.

    I’ve not experienced that myself, but then my personal blog (and Jennie’s) have always been atypical, being on a social platform already. But even my comments split between the main host and the LJ mirror.

    Hopefully, if Salmon gets widespread adoption, the comments in multiple places problem might be reduced a bit (although some will complain about privacy concerns, which could be sorted by a good UI).

    I still use my archaic in style reading page on Dreamwidth, which does some weird things with RSS/Atom feeds that I still like. Lots of users still like that.

    I’ve almost given up on Twitter and Facebook, which is a bit of a shame. There must be some way of aggregating and spreading stuff–One of the advantages of Twitter is of course retweets-half the time when I find something good via Twitter, it’s a retweet or a relink.

    Twitter has become the all consuming monster for a lot of people, doing a bit of what Delicious does, a bit of what Reddit does, but making it social and fun, with a nice simple UI.

    Ideally, Facebook will fall, just as it supplanted MySpace and similar, and what replaces it will be a lot more open, allowing easy integration, a distributed network of some sort.

    There’re a lot of protocols in the works to help with that. The big problem’ll be getting widespread adoption then getting critical mass.

    Fortunately, Facebook appears to want to play along and help, I suspect they figure it’s going to happen anyway, might as well shape it to help them survive.


    I don’t know if any of it’ll actually work.

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