Monday, November 29, 2010

Unsharing, Unpublishing, Unpushing - less is more? (The flip side of unfriending)

When we sign up for an online service, the service provider strongly encourages us to link to all of our friends on that service. For example, if a new service called HongaWongaDilla suddenly appears (don't look for it; I made it up), it's a pretty safe bet that HongaWongaDilla will offer you the option of seeing how many of your Facebook, Twitter, and/or Google friends are already using HongaWongaDilla, so that you can connect with them. So we find ourselves connected to a bunch of people. At the same time, we get invitations from new people to connect with them. Perhaps we won't connect to the "USE-SEX-FOR-SEO-OPTIMIZATION-TO-SELL-VIAGRA" account, but we will go ahead and connect to that name that we vaguely remember from somewhere ("Hmmm...she's on HongaWongaDilla, I think").

Next thing we know, we're on a few dozen different services, linked to a few hundred or a few thousand people, and we don't really know any of them.

Louis Gray was fairly open to friend requests in the past. However, he has recently changed his strategy, as he notes in his post Unfriending, Unfollowing, Unsubscribing... Less Is More. Excerpt:

When Facebook launched their new messaging platform two weeks ago, putting an emphasis on the friends in the site having access to your in box, I started to have second thoughts about all these random people I'd blindly said yes to in the last couple years. For every great person who I would meet in the future and learn from, there were others trying to invite me to events and groups that were a waste of time, or whose updates were never catching my eye. So I took the opportunity to get out of the mess I had created.

Not only did Gray prune his Facebook and Twitter lists, but he also pruned entire services by deleting some of his accounts (e.g. his Plaxo account). Incidentally, I don't believe in deleting old inactive accounts (or old inactive blogs), but that's the topic for another post.

While thinking about Gray's actions (something which I sometimes do, especially on Twitter), I was thinking of the other side of the coin. While bloggers such as I are often content consumers, we are also content providers. And while we don't want to have a lot of incoming noise, it is also incumbent upon us to make sure that we aren't generating a lot of outgoing noise.

When this post is published, an announcement of the post's availability will appear on FriendFeed, Twitter, Facebook, Google Buzz, and probably a half dozen other services which I've forgotten. For certain posts, I also choose to share them via other services, such as StumbleUpon and Google Reader. I have to ask myself - is that a wise move, or is there the danger that some people will be overwhelmed and Empoprises will be less prized?

Although my Twitter account is linked to LinkedIn, I share very few tweets on LinkedIn (my settings dictate that only tweets with the #in hashtag appear on LinkedIn). Some people have a very different philosophy. Is this a wise move?

Many services allow you to publish items on other services; for example, with one mouse click, something that I share on FriendFeed can also go to Twitter. In which cases is this a wise move? In which cases does it lead to overload?

Perhaps I should adopt a silo. I've previously wondered whether my re-sharing of all my FriendFeed content (which includes items from other services) on Facebook is a good thing. Perhaps a silo strategy is in order, in which Facebook only has my Facebook-generated content. Of course, I could carry that to the extreme, which would be to share nothing on FriendFeed itself - no likes, no Google Reader shares, no nothing. This is, of course, the opposite of the lifestreaming philosophy. But does it merit consideration?
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