Moment of Geekery: What I Want

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.

0 thoughts on “Moment of Geekery: What I Want

  1. I follow your logic, but I’m not sure that consolidating content is appropriate across all platforms.

    Sure, your micro-blogging outlets might benefit from being linked and updated automatically, but I’ve witnessed plenty of “huh?” moments from FB/Twitter status syncs to come to the conclusion that different networks often warrant different messaging techniques.

    I’m not certain that automation will serves much of a purpose, for longer text and/or rich content, either. For example: I like to creatively title my blog posts (a habit no doubt leftover from my alt-weekly days), but Twitter favors specificity as much as brevity. So having auto updates from my blog to Twitter means I forego the opportunity chance to craft a meaningfully brief explanation. Perhaps I should be more explicit in my blog post titles — search engines certainly favor that approach. Yet creativity has its its own rewards beyond page ranking — something that technology, in its relentless pursuit of efficiency, doesn’t always accommodate.

    So I’m not sure there will ever be an elegant solution besides limiting your involvement in those social apparatuses (apparati?) that you deem superfluous. In other words, selectively “shutting off.”

    Either that or work towards becoming a many-armed Hindu deity of networked multitasking.

  2. I think I may have missed your bigger point:

    “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.,”

    What would this require beyond a critical mass of your networks using FriendFeed?

  3. You’re totally right – the context is different for all of these platforms. That’s why I stopped shuttling my tweets to Facebook — was getting way to many of those “huh?” moments from people (including my wife).

    Maybe I should simplify my complaint and say, I wish I didn’t spend so much time social-mediating. Maybe the answer is, indeed, to turn off.

    Except that my work depends on me tuning in. So I’m screwed.

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