A few Facebook/Twitter/blog thoughts

I've been writing a gargantuan post about Facebook and other social-networking sites in my head for weeks, but the likelihood of it turning into words on a screen anytime soon is fairly slim. So for now, just a few scattershot notes:

My blog entries get automatically copied to Facebook as Notes.

They generally get more comments on Facebook than they do on my blog.

I post brief status updates to Facebook a little more often than I post blog entries. Those updates appear only on Facebook.

Unfortunately, nobody but my Facebook friends can see those status updates. I gather that it will soon be possible to set status updates to "publicly viewable by the whole world"; I'll probably do that.

Ideally, I'd like to have a way to post everything (regular-blog entries, language-blog entries, status updates, etc) in one central place (such as my blog) and have it appear in various other places (Facebook, Twitter, etc). I know there's software that will post the same thing in multiple places, but that's not quite the same thing, conceptually.

I've tried Twitter a few more times in the past couple months, and it continues to not fit my head. For example, I hate the way responses to posts are handled there—and I like the way they're handled on Facebook.

Made-up example Twitter responses:

@gorgonzola55: Yes.

@cheddar99: But why?

@cheesemonkeys: Well, okay, makes sense, but if I were you I would hold off on burning anything down.

So I come along and I see responses like the above, and I want to know what they're responding to, so I laboriously copy and paste usernames, and I see three dozen tweets posted by that other user in the last hour. And I have no idea which of them, if any, those cryptic responses were responding to. And sometimes it turns out that the responses were in response to other responses, and I have to repeat the process. I find it very frustrating.

In theory, if I want things I post to show up on Twitter, I should post them there and have Facebook read the feed and display the tweets as status updates, as several of my friends do (and as I'd like to see more of my friends do!). But that feels conceptually backwards to me, given that I don't use Twitter.

I don't read everything my friends post to Facebook. Generally I stop by once or twice a day, read the last page or so of status updates, and go away. This means I may miss significant posts. But unlike how I felt about LJ, where the volume was just too daunting for me, I feel more casual about Facebook—like it's not a big deal if I miss some posts.

Sadly, there've been some cases where I've missed significant events in friends' lives because I didn't happen to check Facebook during the brief window when the relevant posts were in my last page or so of updates.

What I'd really like to see added to microblogs (like Twitter or Facebook status updates) is an importance rating, say on a 1-5 scale. Someone posting "I just ate some toast" could rate that as a 1, and someone posting "I just gave birth" could rate that as a 5. Kind of like the way Slashdot does things, but with importance assigned by the poster (on the honor system). Then I could read at importance-level 4 or 5 when I'm short on time, and 2 or 3 when I have more time, and maybe 1 once in a while. Sadly, I suspect that adding such a thing to Twitter or Facebook would provoke cries of outrage, and that few people would bother giving their posts ratings.

I'm still kinda picky about who I accept friend requests from on Facebook. I waffle about this; some day I may switch to accepting all requests.

There's a certain person on Facebook who's friended 63 of my science-fiction-related friends, and who sent me a friend request. This person has listed very little information about themselves in their profile, and I can't find any info about them online, and they haven't replied to my "who are you" message. I asked a couple of people among those 63 who this person was, and they had no idea; they just accept all requests. I'm now wondering whether all 63 people just accepted the friend request. (Obviously there's nothing wrong with doing that; I'm just surprised.)

9 Responses to “A few Facebook/Twitter/blog thoughts”

  1. Nao

    There’s something on Twitter that makes it a little easier to use than you think.

    Here’s a reply to someone else that I posted earlier today:

    The phrase “in reply to rainydaygoods” is a link to the post I was replying to.

    I’m still not entirely fond of Twitter, but I started liking it a lot better when I figured that out.

  2. Jed

    Neat—I kept thinking that kind of link should be there somewhere, but I kept not finding it.

    So, yeah, that’ll help. Thanks!

    Although most of the time when I try to use Twitter, it’s via an iPhone app like Twitterific, which doesn’t seem to have that kind of link attached to responses. Maybe I just need a better app.

    Even so, though, I’d rather have a whole conversation in one place. Imagine if every blog comment were posted to the poster’s own blog instead of to a comment thread, so that to read any conversation you had to follow a whole series of links to other blogs…. It’s not an inherently awful model, just not one that feels comfortable to me.

  3. Jed

    Aha—turns out that Tweetdeck gives these “in reply to” links (but you apparently have to do an extra tap to see them), and TwitterFon even has a “view this conversation” view, which is much more what I’m looking for. I don’t like the interface for either of those quite as much as Twitterific, but maybe I’ll try Twitter with conversation view and see if it works better for me.

  4. Nao

    Yeah, I mostly use Twitter on our desktop, since that’s where I do most of my online stuff. I should look into the apps, though, for the times when I’m using the iPod Touch we’ve got.

    Twitter does feel awfully fragmented at times.

  5. brainwane

    This URL gives you an entire conversation within identi.ca, a different microblogging service.

  6. Kir

    I was researching ways to get twitter posts to show up on Facebook (as I am admin for a NonProfit and that page couldn’t use the basic twitter app on FB to pull it’s own twitter feed to the page, only to my page, which wasn’t what we wanted). I came across some ways to assemble multiple things into a single RSS feed. I think it was this:
    http://pipes.yahoo.com/pipes/ (I have not needed to try this yet)
    I’d be shocked if google doesn’t have some similar aggregator app, now that I think think of it. Maybe in the Labs somewhere? Or webmaster tools? Haven’t looked.

    And this is methods only (?) for short status posts, specifically twitter and FB, not necessarily for blog(s) and reaggregating them: http://mashable.com/2009/05/25/twitter-to-facebook/

    For short status posts I use http://ping.fm (these go to Facebook and/or twitter and/or LinkedIn, depending on content/what I set that post to do).
    I use twitter only so LoudTweeter can aggregate those posts into my blog. I don’t actually read twitter, although I will review who’s following me and block the pornspam.

    My own goal was not precisely centralization (since I don’t wish all of me to be public to everyone) as specific control over distribution and being able to remind myself quickly of things/add to them later (thus the pull into the blog).

    • Jed

      Oops, I never replied to the latest comments here.

      Sumana: Thanks!

      Kir: Interesting; thanks—I’ll look into those.

      Google’s aggregator is Google Reader. Google also used to provide Google Mashup Editor, but they’ve shut that down; I think the closest thing to that that they still do is AppEngine, which isn’t really the same thing.

  7. Eric Rudolf

    Agree, agree, and agree. Also, in regard to the first commenter . . . I also find myself hating Twitter less the more I use it. Weird, because I thought eventually I would grow very VERY tired of it.

    Great post.

    • Jed

      I’m not sure what to make of this comment from Eric Rudolf.

      I’m always suspicious when someone I don’t know comes along and posts a generic-sounding comment to an old blog entry of mine, especially when they include a link to their website.

      This particular comment is semi-specific, but still kind of generic; it could be posted verbatim on any blog entry that mentions Twitter.

      Which is funny, because the latest entry on the blog that he linked to is titled “Four Marketing Technologies That Are Ruining the Internet,” and one of those technologies is indeed “The Automated Comment Poster.” I was going to post a comment on his entry noting that it’s easy to sound like an automated comment poster even if you don’t intend to—but that entry is closed to comments.

      So I think I’m gonna remove the link that he posted. I’ll think about it a bit more.


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