Follow Up on Friending vs Following

The first time I joined Twitter I followed way too many people that I didn’t know and businesses that I wasn’t interested in. This led to me being overwhelmed with five to ten tweets every minute! This made Twitter too unidirectional for me. I couldn’t keep up nor did I care to keep up.

In my previous post I mentioned that one of Twitter’s advantages is that a user can follow another user without first having to be accepted. That is one of the advantages of Twitter that gives it such potential.

On three occasions this weekend I’ve heard celebrities profess how great Twitter is for them because it allows them to speak directly to their fans. These are the celebs that have hundreds of thousands of followers. They tweet and we receive. No PR interference. No media misquoting. No interference. Thus we see the usefulness of Twitter on the large scale.

What about the rest of us? What I have to say is rarely (if ever) funny, informative or interesting beyond my close circle of friends. I tweet simply because I can. Because I like to create little things, and Twitter allows me, as a busy person, to feel like I’m adding to the web. It’s that simple. I don’t care if I’m followed. It’s just me, and maybe you. But mostly me. That is why I have made a point to, with a few exceptions, follow only those people who I have met in “real life.” At least their uninteresting tweets may fall within my universe from time-to-time.

What does that say of the difference between me following someone and me friending them? My following people on Twitter who I know would accept my friend request on Facebook lessens the difference. And thus, we see both a further similarity and another difference between twitter and Facebook. As a non-celebrity I live a small life, both offline and online. I don’t need to be followed by non-friends. I don’t need to follow them. Thus my Twitter universe is roughly equal to my Facebook universe. They’re both at a place where I can be invested without feeling overwhelmed. They are both a two-way conversation between me and my followers/friends.

The celebrity Twitter experience is far different. It’s simply a megaphone for them. They have headphones to hear what others are tweeting, but hundreds of thousands of followers create too much static to be heard. It’s like I experienced with my first Twitter account. It made me give up because I was looking at it wrong.

There’s a lot to think about here. Pretty interesting. A big future for both companies.

Friending vs Following

Facebook and Twitter have received a lot of online and offline press in the past two weeks.

Twitter is blowing up. It’s more pervasive than a Top 20 pop song. Local news papers, churches, late-night TV, law firms, your neighbor, my imaginary friend – nearly everyone is twittering, whether they want to or not. The concept of posting a public text message about what you are doing is about as narcissistic an activity as you can find. But it’s the new new thing and is tremendously informative in ways I never would have expected. I’m mentioned, before, the prospective value of Twitter as a search engine.

With that said, can you blame Facebook for recently redesigning their homepage to look and act more like Twitter? The new homepage features a more “status” oriented appearance with live streaming updates.

Even with Facebook’s recent repositioning of a key area of their website to better compete with Twitter, I don’t believe the two sites are perfect substitutes for one another. This is less obvious than it first appears, and it’s not necessarily because Facebook has more features. Instead, where I see the fundamental divide between the two services is in how you connect with people on the websites.

Facebook has two primary methods of connecting. One way is to friend people and wait for them to accept you as a friend. If they choose to ignore you, then you’re out of luck and cannot gain full access to their information. Another way is to become a fan of a page. This is more of a unilateral process, depending on the page settings.

Twitter has one method of connecting. You follow people, yet they don’t have to follow you back. They don’t even have to approve your access to their tweets, unless, of course, they protect their tweets.

Each service has its own strengths and weaknesses, and most who want to be connected would claim to need both. But if it came down to it, I could more easily do without Twitter. After all, if Twitter didn’t exist, Facebook would take up the space.

Facebook Takes On Twitter

You can’t not use Facebook! You just can’t. The website is too usable, too huge, and too addicting. Whether, like me, you use it mainly as an elaborate address book or you are a power user who can’t live without knowing the latest about what’s on your friends’ walls, a Facebook presence is a must.

With that said, it’s obvious that the folks over at Facebook are a little jealous at the recent success of Twitter. So much so that they will soon be introducing a redesigned homepage that mimics Twitter’s functionality. The Facebook homepage will have a status input area at the top and below that will be a real time stream of your friends recent updates. The Facebook homepage has more functionality. Where twitter is 140 characters of text only, Facebook allows text, photos, videos, causes, etc.

Further bringing Facebook in line with Twitter’s model is Facebook’s merging of personal profiles and public pages. Like on Twitter, where you can follow a user without them following you back, Facebook’s integration of pages and profiles will give it a more Twitter-like feel by making the overall experience more transparent.

Facebook has come a long way from where it began. It its original inception, it allowed the user to view static profiles and had minimal interaction. With this change, Facebook will retain the robustness of its many services while gaining the agility necessary to compete with Twitter and other similar limited-purpose websites.

I can’t wait to try out the new Facebook homepage. I doubt it will replace my “need” for Twitter, but it may for some. What are your thoughts?

Should I Quit Facebook?

First, read the following excerpt of the “Licenses” clause of Facebook’s new terms of use:

You hereby grant Facebook an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to (a) use, copy, publish, stream, store, retain, publicly perform or display, transmit, scan, reformat, modify, edit, frame, translate, excerpt, adapt, create derivative works and distribute (through multiple tiers), any User Content you (i) Post on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof subject only to your privacy settings or (ii) enable a user to Post, including by offering a Share Link on your website and (b) to use your name, likeness and image for any purpose, including commercial or advertising, each of (a) and (b) on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof.

If that’s not bad enough, read the “Termination” section:

The following sections will survive any termination of your use of the Facebook Service: … Licenses …

Since I’ve been alerted to Facebook’s new terms of service, I will not longer be importing the posts from this blog to Facebook’s Notes application. Further, I will no longer be importing photos via the “my flickr” application or directly into Facebook’s default photo application.

Facebook is now just an elaborate address book to me.

Update: Consumerist has a nice summary and highlights that if you restrict your privacy settings then you may not be as exposed to the drastic licensing provision quoted above.

More Time Needed

I wish I had more time for everything because there are so many things that interest me. It’s inevitable that I discover and archive, drive by, dream up, and am assigned much more than I’ll ever be able to take in thoughtfully. And that is just one day. The next day it starts all over again. It’s not a feeling of being overwhelmed as much as it is disappointment that I can’t effectively absorb more.

I wonder if I would feel the same way if I stopped reading so many blogs, twitter posts, and facebook notifications. Consuming all of that “pop-life” is like trying to get my brain to record the lives and events of a thousand different people each day.

It is my hunch that if I were able to better focus on “local-me” that I would find each day more fulfilling and, in turn, less stuffed. And who I am trying to prove something to – that I care about all of the useless gadgetry, latest fashions, and most obscure routines of people I’ll never know? It can’t be anyone except myself.

So many people.
So many stories.
So many facts.
So little time.

25 Random Things About Me

Rules: Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged (to do it next). You have to tag the person who tagged you.

I was tagged into this meme via Facebook. Here are 25 random things about me:

1. I recently purchased a miniature grappling hook for my key chain.

2. My favorite television show of all time is The West Wing.

3. I’ve recently been reminded of an old nickname: Mr. Elite.

4. I love frozen chocolate chip cookies.

5. I will never believe you can beat me at golf until we’ve played 36 holes together.

6. Looks like I’m headed to Chicago to practice law. Or at least take the bar.

7. I have hiked the Grand Canyon twice. That’s enough for awhile.

8. I would like to live in a small log cabin in the northern reaches of the Adirondack region, write and hike. For a month a year. That would be cool.

9. I am an unforgiving driver who doesn’t realize his own faults. Follow the rules!

10. I have never broken a bone.

11. It is virtually impossible for me to memorize lyrics. I envy those who can pick up a song after listening to it one or two times.

12. I enjoy driving long distances. Either alone or with someone. It doesn’t matter. I like the feeling of “going somewhere.” I like that I might see something happen that no one else will see. If you ever drive past me, you may see me taking pictures out of my car window.

13. One of my favorite places to be is in an airport before my flight departs. Despite being around thousands of strangers, I feel very alone in airports. Nothing can touch me once I’ve passed through security. At that point in the trip, I can exhale, find a coffee shop and start reading.

14. I need to be more Rhett and less Ashley.

15. I will be happy if I end up practicing law, although I imagine that I will be happier if I can do something more creative. That latter, however, requires an equal amount of effort and dedication as does the former. I realize this. But in three years of law school I’ve been unable to fully kill-off that part of me that wants to explore. For some reason I’ve yet to figure out how to join the two interests – law and everything else – but one day… one day…

16. I have more than a few gray hairs. This is because I worry about things and sweat the small stuff. I have some learning to do.

17. I believe that teachers hold tremendous power and influence. As a graduate student I’ve had my share of good and bad teachers. The good professors captivate me, regardless of the subject. The bad ones can ruin even the most interesting topics. What makes a good teacher and a bad teacher is tough to say.

18. I don’t mind cold weather. I’m a tough guy.

19. I appreciate home more now than before.

20. I eat the ends of french fries and hot dogs now without even thinking about it. For many years I had a strict “no ends” policy.

21. No matter how much I like an apartment when I move in, I end up finding something wrong with it within six months. This makes me wary of buying a house.

22. I have never ridden on a motorcycle or a snowmobile.

23. I would never buy a suit from Banana Republic. I really don’t know why, though. It just seems like an odd place to buy a suit, regardless of the quality.

24. I don’t mind doing dishes. It’s relaxing.

25. I need to find a job! This should be #1.