Should social networking sites make it easy to import updates from other social networking sites? Yes and no.
On the Yes side, it makes it easy to consolidate one’s social network updates from your blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pownce, etc.
On the No side, it causes serious redundancy issues for online friends who happen to follow you on more than one service.
For example, I have a friend who’s a blogger, Facebook, and Twitter user.
He’s integrated the blog-to-Twitter plugin for WordPress, so every time he posts a new post to his blog, I get a Twitter update about his latest blog entry. The tweet shows the post title, which is generally underdescriptive, along with a TinyURL I can click to see wha his 3-4 word Tweet is all about.
I’m already subscribed to his blog in Google Reader, so Twitters about new blog posts are redundant. Yet there is no way to turn off the blog-to-Twitter tweets without unfollowing him on Twitter.
In this case, I unfriended him on Twitter since he was putting out much better quality content on his blog and the majority of his tweets were reblogs.
I’m also friends with ths guy on Facebook, and guess what? He’s syndicating his Twitter posts into Facebook as well, so my Facebook news feed gets hit with his Twitters, which means it gets hit with links from his blog posts which hit his Twitter account, which end up in Facebook.
Worst case scenario:
1. He publishes a blog post
2. Causing my phone to vibe with a new Twitter message pointing to a URL.
3. I click that URL, sending me to his blog.
4. Within the hour, I get a new link in Google Reader telling me about the same blog post.
5. I then get another new new item in Google Reader from Twitter of recent Twitter posts that’s redundant to #2. I realize this one is redundant but I don’t want all of my Twitter friends coming to my phone but will take them in Google Reader.
6. I then log into Facebook to find the same Twitter message I saw back in #2 in yet another location.
7. He could also syndicate his blog into Facebook so I could see the same post yet again.
There are four solutions to this that I can think of:
1. Social networking sites and RSS reader applications could all get together and work out a solution where all but the site where an item is read first would pull the duplicate message.
2. People should stop publishing their content in a redundant manner.
3. Use Yahoo Pipes to filter out redundant content from friends.
4. Use a yet to be created Firefox Greasemonkey script to block redundant updates in Twitter or Facebook.
I’ve realized that I’ve been guilty of this too by using the Twitter application in Facebook. I removed it after coming to the realization that my Facebook friends are already following me on Twitter for the most part, so I’m creating redundant content for most of my friends.
Steve Rubel from Micropersuasion has been looking at this issue lately and described the aggregation as “lifecasting.” I think his definition of that term would be something along the lines of a aggregated look at all of the content a person generates online. If someone wants to hear every nugget from Rubel from a short Twitter through a well thought out blog post, you can follow him at www.steverubel.com. This may work well for many Rubel fans since his content tends to revolve around work with a little sports thrown in.
For people who publish to the web on a larger variety of topics, I think Rubel’s version of lifecasting will fall short. For example, I may write about technology here, things that interest me from politics to Britney Spears on my personal blog, about shoes hanging from powerlines on another blog, and about hamburgers with cheese on the inside on another blog. Consolidating all of this into a lifecast would please no one since the topics are too diverse to be of interest to anyone but me.
However, it’s possible Yahoo Pipes could come to the rescue by making it possible to filter web user’s lifecasts down to the content that interests them, or by filtering out the stuff that doesn’t.
Would this post have made any sense a year ago?