Social Media

Posted on Tue 19 May 2009 in geek

I've been experimenting with various micro-blogging sites for a week or so seeing if I could understand the hype. I have to say I'm starting to see the things it's good for. For example I've just been notified of the speakers impending resignation not by reading my news feeds but because I follow the Today programmes twitter feed. I've also found that by using proper tagging I get timely replies to problems I'm tackling at the time.

Micro-blogging seems to be very much a tool "of the moment". Reading through the last two days of feed would be too much and not as useful as say reading the last two days of RSS feeds you may follow. You never really want to go beyond the current page of notifications. Luckily decent software means that replies to you (often the really useful posts) are kept in nice separate tab.

To get the most out of these services you need to learn to use tags. I'm still a little unclear about the difference between # and ! tags but these mean your tweet/dent/comment is disseminated beyond your direct followers and to the relevant groups/searches. In this way your message is more immediate than a mailing list but a little less involved/interactive than connecting directly to an IRC channel.

I'm still not totally taken in by the hype. I'm also sure there is a lot of useful aggregate data in the ${MB}-sphere that is going to be a gold mine for advertisers and market research companies. Given the open APIs these services have I find it hard to imagine how they could close up to serve adverts to their users. I suspect it will be more useful to keep the user feeds "clean" and report back to ${MEGACORP} about the impact of their latest viral advertising effort. I'm not sure if that is a good or bad thing.

p.s.: I tweaked my Gwibber client to filter out some tags when posting status updated to Facebook and Pidgin. My hacks can be found at github.