I’m a bit of a grump when it comes to a lot of the Web 2.0 startups of recent years. I still dislike Facebook - originally it was just an in-principle reaction based on their rather irritating child-CEO and his ability to attract vast amounts of investment based on a business plan made entirely of arm-waving and wet tissue paper, but now having used it for a while, I dislike it on its own merits. Even with my relatively small friends list it seems dedicated to the task of swamping me with as much useless information, stupid applications, and other such nonsense as it possibly can. Occasionally there will be a nugget of something in there, but it’s drowned in so much crap it’s hardly worth the effort to filter it. Sure, it allows me to keep up with the activities of ‘friends’, but in a much more shallow and sterile way than actually meeting them or talking on the phone/skype/in-game chat. Anyone who thinks Facebook is a good way to develop actual friendships is deluded. As a supplement for real-world or voice meetings (e.g. arranging get-togethers, sharing photos etc), I can see the utility, but I attest that it’s really not even the most efficient way to do that, what with all the junk on there. So generally, pass.
LinkedIn I like, because it sticks to the point. Every business person needs their Rolodex, and that’s what LinkedIn is - a business tool. It doesn’t claim to be central to your life, or that you can build / sustain real friendships there or other such twaddle. The focussed nature of it means there’s less noise, so it’s easier and quicker to get what you need. Contacts there are not personal, they’re a reference for it you’re looking for work, a contractor, a partner etc - which is appropriate for the medium in a way that personal relationships are not. I don’t feel the need to constantly update it or prod my contacts, or keep track of all their statuses; it just does what I need and gets out of the way.
I’ve avoided Twitter because again, it just looked like a way to pour time down the toilet. It seemed like blogging without the in-built filter that says ‘is this worth blogging about’?. Besides, I already actively participate in forums, mailing lists, blogs etc - I really didn’t feel I needed yet another dimension to have online discussions in. And I don’t really want to tell the entire world what I’m doing at any one time - I strain out the small number of actually interesting things already and post them up on this blog, and the rest of the minutae rapidly decreases in value the more degrees of separation away from me you get; so in fact real-world communication works far better as a filtering mechanism for that. Clay Shirky described why information filters in the real world have historically done a much better job with these kinds of things.
However, I decided to open a Twitter account anyway, but only for a very narrow subset of ‘what I’m doing’ - that is, what I’m currently doing in core Ogre. Obviously I blog about that sometimes, and I post in the forum for things that people need to know about, and keep the roadmap on the wiki up to date, but sometimes there are low-level things that don’t warrant that, but people are still interested in. I used to use IRC for this, but over the years drifted away from it, as it was too time consuming to loiter in channels for extended periods looking for topics in real-time, and people just bombarded me with questions all the time anyway so it was a little too much like hard work. So, for things that don’t warrant a blog or forum posting, I’m going to try to keep Twitter informed. There’s also a widget on the right there.
The focus will be kept deliberately very tight - so nothing about my other work commitments, personal life etc are going on there. If any of those things merit comment, they’ll get a more considered entry in my blog. Consider this a sort of ‘pre commit log’ of sorts! If I continue with it, anyway…