Tuesday, March 30, 2010

So Long, Finger Poke. Later On, Weirdsies

Just about every week, Ben and I talk about how this is the week we're done with Facebook and Twitter. We talk about how big of a distraction it is, how little great information we get from it, and how things people say can get us worked up for no great reason. Tired of the .02% of your "friends" who just flood your information streams with useless status updates or political rants.

Don't get me wrong, I think that 1-2% of the stuff that I read there is interesting, nice to know or informative. But that's a pretty low hit rate for signal vs. noise.

There's this weird and unhealthy emotional attachment to it, which causes me to never hit the off button. Sometimes I feel like I've built up this big property, and I'm scared to just let it go (like there's a bunch of other jfiorato's out there waiting in line for that username). Then there's just the fear of missing something important, that I won't see anywhere else, or that I'll be doomed to find out later than everyone else.

But I don't like the way these attachments make me feel. As if we don't have to enough live in fear of these days, fearing that I'm not up to date, or fearing that I'm not marketing myself as well as I could, just isn't necessary anymore. I've just been sick of having so much of my stuff owned by others. Tired of banks owning my shit. Tired of TV owning my CPU cycles. Tired of Facebook and Twitter owning my words and pictures.

I feel like I got so much more value out of reading and writing more than 140 characters, but all these 140 character "efficiencies" have ended up paralyzing me.

But, still, unready to fully commit to anything, to test things out, Ben and I made a pact to not check Twitter or Facebook for 2 weeks (had our wives change our passwords), and then see where we're at then. Maybe after the two weeks, deleting the accounts, or maybe just leaving them there without knowing the password, not sure yet.

So, I'm hoping to pick back up here, and start really writing again.


finbib said...

I let my Twitter account stagnate after about a month of constantly checking it. I can definitely relate to the time-sucking feel of both of those services.

Tom Wessels said...

Glad to hear you're back to blogging!

I don't get much use out of Facebook, but I do find Twitter helpful. I use it to follow software trends and, more importantly, to keep tabs on people who I don't frequently contact yet still want to stay in touch with. For instance, I'd have no idea you had a fourth kid if I didn't follow you on Twitter. Perhaps I should opt for a more direct, personal form of communication, but for now, my passive consumption of tweets is better than nothing.

Since I now don't have access to Twitter during the day, I typically only check it in the morning when I eat my breakfast and then shortly after I get home from work. To my surprise, this seems to be working for me, as I'm still able to review updates but don't have the interruption while at work. And I haven't felt a sense that I'm missing something important or finding things out later than others. But ignoring Twitter entirely would give me a sense that I may be missing something noteworthy, and I think this is because for me, Twitter is a unique source of information - unlike Buzz, where most of the information I get from it is duplicated from another source.

Mark Fletcher said...

The problem you describe can more or less be attributed to any source of information that is delivered in a stream.

Take RSS and RSS Readers for example. I subscribe to several RSS feeds, but I find a lot of my time is spent glancing through the feeds and deleting posts that dont interest me. Then more time is spent going through those posts and actually reading them, before deciding to keep them or delete them.

The solution would be to have some kind of algorithm (best choice of word, Im not sure.) that would be able to filter out information that you're not interested in.

Right now this is a completely manual process. For example, in Facebook, Im not really interested in posts regarding peoples kids. Id really like Facebook to take that preference into account and filter out said posts, instead of having to hide the poster.

Or another example, again in Facebook, are people who copy their Twitter updates to their Facebook status. What happens then is that more often than not, the person posting via twitter crowds out other more valuable updates from the stream.

You could block out the stream completely, ie quit Twitter, Facebook, stop using RSS, but then you lose access to valuable sources of information. I like using Facebook, because I have friends and family distributed across the globe and its an easy way to keep up with what they're doing.

In the end, the person that can come up with an algorithm for managing streams of information is sitting on a goldmine.