I don’t often allow myself the luxury of talking about geeky stuff like what browser I’m using or how I’m bookmarking favorite posts. But I’ve recently been thinking about solutions our fragmented online lives, ways to make disparate experiences and products fit more better into an ineffable whole that’s actually useful and that adds actual value to our lives. What am I talking about?
Let’s call it “flow.” Flow is that mysterious state in which you can tweet on Twitter, post to Facebook, follow FriendFeed conversations, bookmark on delicious, write on a blog, comment on other blogs, etc., and make all of these separate actions part of the larger, unthinking meta-action of being online — of participating and conversing and engaging. Of acting authentically without being overly conscious of the actions you’re taking, adding friction to your flow (I just finished the weird book Remainder, which is all about authenticity of action, so excuse me if this is making little sense).
I suspect the less geeky among us already have this down pat. They use Facebook, and Facebook only, and all of their friends are there, so what’s the problem? But I’m not in that category. There are too many — here’s that word again — disparate threads to my online life, and I often spend as much time switching from one site or tool to another and getting frustrated at the inefficiency of said tool as I do writing or reading. Or I spend more time, um, writing about those tools that I do just using them. This is inefficient, unproductive, uncreative, and annoying.
There’s got to be a better way. Shutting off is one highly-recommended option, though the reality is that many of us have plunged much too deeply into our networks to be be able to turn our backs to them.
Here’s what I want: one interface, with an input box at the top, where I can post a tweet or a longer blog post. The tweet goes to Twitter and/or other micro-blogging sites. The blog post goes to a blog. But both pieces of content are collected in the unified interface. Comments and responses that appear in one place appear in the other. Friends that appear in one place appear in the other (otherwise, I couldn’t use just one site without ignoring my friends or followers on the other). Rich content that appears in place appears in the other. Etc., etc.,
FriendFeed is getting close to this, but honestly, who outside a certain crowd of Silicon Valleyites really uses it? Until they can pull in the activity of people outside of the FriendFeed network, it just won’t work.
So there it is. Thoughts, please.