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on social networking

I watched the TED talk “Beware The Filter Bubble” by Eli Pariser recently. His basic premise is that with all of the algorithmic filtering and recommending that is happening on the internet, your online world is being narrowed in a way that prevents you from learning about alternative views and ideas.

He makes a very good argument for preserving your options and don’t narrow yourself too much, because if you do, you’ll end up in a “Filter Bubble”.

So I started thinking about ways that I had self-imposed a bubble, and one of the places I came up with was Facebook. I have 300-odd “friends” on Facebook. That’s way more than I can keep track of, and it seemed to me that recently I wasn’t seeing some people I care about. In addition, I knew there were few people I had blocked from appearing in the status feed, for various reasons.

As it turns out, I had blocked over 80 people from appearing, and there was a setting in facebook to show me “news and updates from people I interact with most often”. A little experiment ensued, where I unblocked all 80, and chanced the setting to “all my friends”.

The new situation is not much better… way too much noise from people I haven’t interacted with in years and years. Nothing against them, I just can’t handle it. And then I miss stuff from people I do interact with regularly. (Which sometimes leads to odd conversations where we sort of rehash each others’ updates from Facebook)

So, I’m thinking of de-friending a whole swath of people. I’m trying to come up with a snappy break point for doing so. Have I had dinner with this person in the past year? Would I have dinner with this person? Would I travel with this person? Would I go to a show with this person? I’m not sure what the break point is yet, but I’m working on it. Which leads me to Google Plus.

I’m on Google Plus now, and while there aren’t many of my friends and relatives on there yet, it’s clear that they’ve thought through one big issue that I have with Facebook: I don’t want to share everything with everyone. Facebook makes it hard to selectively post to people. Google Plus makes this easy (or easier, at least).

So we’ll see. Email is still pretty good at targeting just the people you want to talk to. But I’ve heard no one uses email anymore…

Categories: General.

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One Response

  1. I hardly use Facebook anymore for just the reasons you describe (anyone who follows me there knows that 90% of my status updates are pushed from Twitter anyway). G+ is working well for me right now as a more social extension of my online life, whereas Facebook is looking more like the place to reach my Luddite friends. Email is broken, and I would abandon it in a heartbeat if my company didn’t rely on it so heavily.

    I remain convinced that Circles are the secret sauce that will slowly pull everyone to G+ and/or force the other social networks to imitate them.

    John Dennett7/19/2011 @ 3:52 pm

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