Another dot in the blogosphere?

Social or anti-social media?

Posted on: September 7, 2014

Video source

This is probably the safest video I can share from this pair of musical comediennes, Garfunkel & Oates.

Their tongue-in-cheek video about Facebook reminders of the birthdays of “friends” you barely know barely scratches the surface of what is wrong with that “social” media platform.

Of late, there have been a few thought leaders writing about the actions of major players like Facebook and Twitter. One is Natasha Lomas of Techcrunch who wrote There’s Something Rotten In The State Of Social Media.

Like me, Lomas likes Twitter and would not miss Facebook if it disappeared overnight (and so does this writer). Like me, she worries that Twitter might use Facebook-like algorithms to populate our Twitter timelines.

With algorithms machines not only decide what you read first, they are also optimized to benefit Facebook and its advertisers.

I carefully curate what I share and who I choose to follow. I even cull who follows me. I do not mind Twitter making recommendations if they add value to my learning, but I do not appreciate unwelcome or unknown tweets appearing in my timeline. Such tweets are typically from corporations or brands that I have no interest in and I have no option to opt out of their drivel.

I understand Twitter’s need to monetize its service. But it should not do so at the risk of antagonizing its users, particularly early adopters like me, who by curating and creating content as well as generating followers, actually helped Twitter grow.

Lomas made an interesting observation:

Another point worth making: It can be rather difficult to articulate exactly why a service like Twitter can feel so alive, when — conversely — Facebook, an apparently similar social service, can leave you feeling cold, suckered in, used and abused. Or indeed just bored by homogeneity.

But actually it’s really rather a simple distinction: one is the product of a single human mind; the other is the product of an algorithm. Twitter, as it (mostly) is now with users in the driving seat, is a service with a human soul. While Facebook, which long ago prioritized algorithmic logic over human choices, is just another mechanized process.

Automation and algorithms can make things convenient for the user. In Facebook, after you provide personal and demographic information, you get instant “friend” recommendations and then instant content (but not necessarily of your choosing or your taste).

Twitter seems to be seeking to do the same. But it is the human work of cultivating, curating, and culling that brings real value.

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