Dan Dot Blog

Based on a true story

Content Concatenation

One of the more exciting things, I think, to come out of social media lately is the ability to share and have seamlessly threaded discussions on a variety of issues. Facebook does this fairly well within its own domain, but with some limitations (that I think they’re working on fixing). Most significantly they’ve eliminated geographic constraints in having real time conversations. It’s sort of what I think chat rooms were always supposed to be, but by giving conversations context it cuts down on the cacphony. However, most of the discussions are, as in real life, sparked by the minutia of our daily existence: they are commentaries on birthdays, new pets, photos of silly hats, etc. That’s not to say these experiences aren’t important, which is why I still spend a lot of time on facebook, fulfilling these social needs. For now, facebook does a good job of alerting us as to where these conversations are happening and keeping us in the loop, but it doesn’t generate an easily searchable (YET!) record of our conversations, which for the most part is fine; how often do we really need to recall one of these comments.

In real life, so many potentially good conversations begin with, “I was reading a piece in…” or “Did you see…” and unfortunately the answer is often no and the conversation enters a period of retelling rather than analysis. Facebook is starting to fill this gap, too, which “Share on Facebook” bookmarklets and the ever-improving News Feed, but it’s still a little clunky. I do most of my reading via RSS using Google Reader (which has both really hurt and really helped my productivity), and the recent abilities to share and comment on things from there is really fantastic. However, it has nothing like the audience that Facebook does, and when I read neat stuff, I want to flag it as such and be able to have discussions on the common content with friends.

Unfortunately, right now only one other friend actually uses Google Reader, and I don’t know how many of my friends are motivated enough to snag my RSS feed (here it is if you are link, RSS recommended), and even if they do, they need to be in Google Reader to participate in the discussion. Google Reader and Facebook were not playing nicely recently, so that, in effect, sharing an item on Google Reader basically meant sharing it with Chris, which made me a bit more self-conscious when sharing articles.

I’ve seen people really have fun with Tumblr, which seems like a happy medium between micro-blogging and the kind of full-fledged stuff that I do here, but it has NO native commenting system (though that can be brought in through disqus) but still does a seemingly poor job of at least identifying trends for posted items in the way that Google Reader does (if I “share” something there I can, I believe, see discussions happening on it from a multitude of such sharers). But, Tumblr plays nice with Facebook, so whenever I saw something I liked in Google Reader, I snagged it, put it in Tumblr, and tried to say something to justify my having gone to the trouble of posting it.

It seems that suddenly Google Reader is playing nicely in a somewhat passive way with Facebook, which is fine with me. For now, if there’s something quick I want to bump up to Facebook, I’ll probably grab it in Tumblr. While I do think snagging it in Facebook would be fine, too, it’s nice to have a clean, outside source of my interesting quotes, and it’s better eye candy in the facebook feed. For now, I think I’ll let Facebook handle commenting on stories like that.

I’ll continue to use Google Reader whenever I come across something neat while reading RSS, or if I happen upon a more full length/less-sexy NY Times article I like or something like that.

I hope that I’m not just creating uses for the various social media stuff that I’m doing. It’s just getting tricky with so many services and so many different users. Ultimately the goal is the same. I want to share interesting things I come across on the web while allowing discussion on them, while grabbing the same things from others. For now I hopefully have it.

The upside of all this is that I’ve realized just how much terrific media we live in an age of. To be honest, this particular post is so meta most people probably won’t make it here, to the end, because there’s much better stuff out there. It’s kind of neat to see a consumption mindset applied to ideas.

Editor’s Note: This post is part of a new push for me to, more or less, rush content out the door. I have way too many half-written posts and drafts sitting in my draft box, so I’m hoping that just getting stuff out will be fine even if it comes at the cost of polish, but I’m curious to hear your thoughts. Feel free to comment using whatver media you do to read this! 😛

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August 12, 2009 - Posted by | Personal | , ,

2 Comments »

  1. Recently rediscovered Google Reader myself, and happily the social improvements. I myself am still struggling with all the tools available; which is where I appreciated your comments concerning integration and how you were deciding what goes where.

    Comment by Allen | August 13, 2009 | Reply

  2. It is a sticky issue. I’m trying to keep in mind which services integrate the best with how I actually consume content, which are the easiest for me to use, and which ones will be the most accessible to my friends.

    For now, I’m leaning back towards Google Reader, just because it’s where I natively read almost everything, anyway. While I wish it integrated more nicely with other social media, at the same time, I don’t want to bombard *all* of my friends with a deluge of full length articles.

    Thanks for the comments Allen; I’ll look for you on Google Reader 🙂

    Comment by Daniel | August 13, 2009 | Reply


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