I’ve often whined in these pages about various modalities I enjoy online and, also, my frustrations with some of them. A couple of years ago, right after the great big anorexia brouhaha of 2006, I remarked that folks seemed to be starving for conversation, and online tools hadn’t matured to the point where it could happen very well.
What I really love about blogging – other than getting my opinion out there and pissing people off – is curating. I love finding cool, random things that inspire or touch me in some way and sharing them with all of you. My hope is that you see, read, or feel things you would not have otherwise.
It was one of the reasons – a year or so ago – that I started doing the “microposts” you saw in the sidebar for a while. I wanted a quick way to say “hey, guys, check this out” without feeling like I had to actually sit down and write. Maybe just make a snarky comment about the news, as I would if we were at a cocktail party or sitting in my living room watching television. Or show you something funny, or beautiful, or dumb, or painfully hot. That was the micropost idea. In practice, blog posts got demoted to microposts, microposts got promoted to real posts, but with most things I just ended up doing nothing, leaving me pretty dissatisfied with that modality. It just didn’t work the way my mind does, and it still didn’t give people a quick and easy way to engage with the content.
Dozens of web tools have emerged that enable varieties of this – public bookmarking, sharing within newsreaders, meta-blog commenting, and all kinds of other stuff. I’ve tried almost every one of them, and some of them are pretty good. But most of them are siloed and still require a level of commitment, understanding, and engagement on the part of the “consumer” that leaves a huge portion of people out. Most of my readers are regular folks – not technologists who are familiar with all the latest shiny social media objects. So I’m generally reluctant to ask you to try this stuff.
Add to this the fact that I’m fairly active in a lot of other disparate online communities and would love a way for you all to see what I’m up to in those places as well (and, to the extent that you are also active there, see what you’re doing too.) But it’s just plain dumb – and overwhelming – for us to expect each other to discover, find, and follow one another in all of these places. The web is only getting bigger, and I want it to bring us together, not supply us with our own personal corners to hide in. I might see a video on YouTube I think you should check out, add an item to my Amazon wish list and want to know what you think, publish pictures on flickR I want you to see, hear a great song, see a picture of a gorgeous girl I want you to join me in drooling over, or whatever – and there’s been no good, elegant way for me to do that. And, the more I’ve thought about it over the last couple of months, the more I realize that this is primarily how I want to engage with all of you. Yes, I want to scream and shout and stomp my feet occasionally, and I’ll continue to do that right here. But mostly, I want to find, commune, and discuss. I want to share, with all of you, this amazing online experience I’m having. Because it’s not just about the online experience; all those bits are merely the trillions of tendrils that connect our minds together. What I share and discover online reveals what’s going on in my mind, my soul, my world. It imparts what I am doing (online and off), where I am going (online and off), and lays open to all of you who I am becoming.
And all of that is worth a lot less if it’s not a two-way street. I want to see who you’re becoming, too – and I want us all to talk about it.
How the heck can we do this?
Well, all of this is why I’m using FriendFeed. In a nutshell, FriendFeed lets you create a stream of your online experiences. You add the various services that you use – say, your flickR account, your YouTube account, your blog, your Facebook, whatever – and stream all of them into one personal river that your friends can see, comment on, and reshare. It’s young and has a lot of growing to do, but it works very well and is one of the most promising online tools I have seen in a very long time.
You’ll notice a new widget on the right that displays my FriendFeed stream [thanks, Evan]. I’ll no longer be doing those microposts; I will be using FriendFeed in their stead. I added the FriendFeed “bookmarklet” – a little button in my browser that lets me quickly “curate” something for y’all – enabling me to share something without agonizing over how to write about it in a way that’s “worthy” of a blog post. So, you’ll find that widget to be a fairly busy (and hopefully interesting) place.
You don’t have to sign up to see most people’s streams – although I hope you will, because then I’ll be able to see what you’re up to as well. I don’t think I’ve ever recommended any social media tool in these pages, but I’m recommending FriendFeed.
So, that’s why I made the change that I did. Those of you who get me via RSS will not get the FriendFeed stuff “pushed” to you like you did the microposts (unless you subscribe to my FriendFeed separately) but you’ll continue to get my normal blog posts as you always have.
Thanks, as always, for caring what I think – and here’s to crossing those streams!