The pressure has been building. At the last count, I was doing stuff online (i.e. sharing content) at 10 different places.1 And they all seem to require feeding. That’s fine; after all, an online social relationship is no different from one in wetspace. They all need regular grooming. What I find hard to understand, as these various networks have proliferated, is what each of them is for; automatic duplication -- so that everything is everywhere -- has made that even harder to resolve.

It isn’t as simple as fun versus work, though at one point I did think Facebook would be more for fun and [LinkedIn] more for work. Truth is, LinkedIn has done absolutely nothing for me. One or two people found me there, because they could, but I’m pretty sure they would have found me somewhere else had they looked. And beyond the initial thrill of “Golly, you're here, after all these years” there hasn’t been a huge regrowth of the relationship. I don't actually do anything active on LinkedIn, although I do litter it from elsewhere. Would I lose anything by leaving? No. Well, maybe one or two contacts unique to that space; perhaps a week before I leave I’ll send out a change of address notice and leave it up to them to follow me if they choose. Of course, to do that I need to know where I’m going to end up.

OK, then; Facebook or [Google plus] Tricky. Both can be fun, and both are reasonably easy to leave for a while and then come back. Do I need both? Maybe I do, but I also need to be a lot more ruthless and make quicker decisions on what to pursue, and that seems kind of disrespectful to the people who are sharing. Do unto others, and all that. I’ll keep both for now, but only because I really cannot decide which I prefer. Would anyone miss me in either place? Would I miss either of them?

Photos and videos are kind of easy. I like Flickr and Vimeo, and I can’t see going anywhere else just yet. But not everyone knows about them. So I sometimes advertise new stuff on FB. (But not G+; why not?) And I do put occasional photos directly onto FB if they are probably of no wider interest.

The short-form stuff is no problem. I have a Twitter account, but I don’t really use it much. I do find things on Twitter that aren’t elsewhere and it is very easy to skim, so that stays.

Then there are the blogs, three at the last count. Sharing automatically to FB seemed like a good idea at first, because it exposed things to an audience that wasn’t reading directly, sometimes eliciting good and useful comments. Which then stayed where they were, making for at least two separate discussions. Sure, there are ways of bringing FB comments to the blog, and maybe vice versa, but that’s yet another layer of complexity and meaningless duplication for at least some people. Maybe tweeting blogposts is the best way to broadcast their availability. Problem with that is that the [half-life of a shared link] is of the order of a couple of hours. How valuable a broadcast signal is that, in a 24-hour world? And retweeting every three hours, which some places seem to do, makes me gag.2

More recently I've been playing with a site that makes content curation easier, and while it offers good content to select and results in a reasonably attractive page, it is very proprietorial about the links I selected and to which I added value, making it harder for me to share them in those other spaces I inhabit. Sure, I found ways round that, but I don’t feel I should have to.

All of which leads to the big questions. Why do I bother? What do I really want?

I bother because I like finding things myself and it pleases me to think someone else might get some pleasure out of the things I find. I could (and do) email single links to a couple of people. But I also regard sharing my finds as a form of potlatch, given that I benefit from the stuff that other people find and share. So I’m going to continue looking, and sharing, somehow.

What I want is a single place where I gather my finds together and where others can see if there’s anything there they like. I also want it to be simpler and less time-consuming than at present. And I think I know where to go with that. It is easy enough to display the contents of an RSS feed on a blog. Where to source the feeds? I already use Pinboard to store the links I find and many of the ones I share. I’m leaning towards building specific Pinboard feeds -- there’s already one on the right, to replace one that Google discontinued -- and creating my own version of the walled garden, a series of raised beds, each (perhaps) dedicated to a specific kind of stuff.3

Either that or an entirely new micro-blog dedicated to stuff from elsewhere.

  1. That doesn't count at least one that has been dormant since the day I signed up, and which I have now left, rather than merely deleting email reminders.  

  2. 2022-01-21: That particular link is dead (Irony!) but you can find lots of other studies suggesting that it is even shorter. 

  3. 2022-01-21: I didn't, bnut it is still a goodish idea. 

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