Entries in Twitter (2)

Thursday
May232013

Twitter, Social Networking and Taking a Big Step Back

I’ve learnt a lot about social networking over the past few months. I’ve learnt how Twitter and Facebook are two very different beasts; that Twitter is of course public, but also how easy it is to forget who is or isn’t watching; how Facebook can leak like a knackered old Land Rover, and how utterly, hopelessly distracted we can become by both of them.


 Due to reasons known by a lot of you, I’ve taken a step back from Twitter recently. Don’t get me wrong, this step back still means leaving my iPad with TweetBot open on my desk for nine hours a day, endlessly scrolling with the tweets of fellow journalists, news agencies and friends.

But I’m tweeting less. I’d amassed 20,000 of the damn things since I was at college and it was all mostly hot air, bad jokes, shouting at the TV and conversations that didn’t quite fit into a single tw...

I, as do millions of others on Twitter, thought I was genuinely contributing to something worthwhile, that I was helping in some way. And I suppose being a journalist who sits in a newsroom day in, day out, I am in a position to spread news, and provide something of value to 600 or so followers, and generally be of value, but I’m hardly a Reuters wire service am I?

Taking a step back, looking at the deafening noise and mess I’d left behind reminded me of that photo of taken from the moon with the Earth a distant spec in the distance. I wanted to get back, but at the same time I quite liked where I was, as more of an observer than a contributor. I figured my follower count would stop growing but so be it, I had real friends who I met often, so if I lost those I tweet about delayed trains and rubbish TV then I’d get over it - no offense to you guys, delayed train tweets are fun. 

The first few days without Twitter - or at least without tweeting - were a bit strange. As I imagine the sight of a pub or the taste of beer makes a quitting smoker crave a cigarette, I would instinctively think to tweet whenever I saw something amusing or thought of a terrible pun on the day’s news.

It struck me just how engrained tweeting had become in my subconscious that my brain was instinctively offering up things to tweet about. I didn’t feel so much like I’d broken free from the shackles of Twitter, but it was startling to think how distracted by it I had become.

Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Snapchat, and probably Facebook too, turn us into show-offs, but more than that, they make us constantly tweet and check-in and whatever else as a way of proving our existence. Perhaps this is just an evolution of telling your mates a story in the pub, but take a step back and it just seems a bit strange, like those annoying family members who used to show off their holiday videos for hour after dull hour when no one really cared.

Author and filmmaker James Victore writes in the book ‘Manage your day-to-day’:

“To ‘know thyself’ is hard work. Harder still is to believe that you, with all your flaws, are enough - without checking in, tweeting an update, sharing a photo as proof of your existence for the approval of your followers.”

So while sharing creative photos and funny remarks no doubt entertains your followers and subscribers, I’m starting to doubt that this entertainment is our primary reason for posting to social networks. That, I fear, is for proving to ourselves that we and our lives are going as we’d planned; that we’re contributing, and if we don’t then we’re somehow missing out.

Perhaps I’ve gone mad, and perhaps this is all a load of bollocks, but taking a step back from the endless, deafening noise of social networks has made me realise just how much time and effort they can take up, while giving very little in return.

Please agree/disagree/troll in the comments below.

Tuesday
Feb012011

The future of search...facebook?

I've decided to write this post off the back of something Kevin Rose said last week, suggesting that Facebook will become a rival to Google in the search market.

You’ve probably never linked Facebook with internet search, but have a think about it. When you search for something on Google and get the results, how do you know if the results are accurate and reliable? You don't. You have a look around, make your own mind up and move on. But what if these search results had been voted up or down depending on its accuracy or relevance by millions of people?

Facebook already has a voting up system with the infamous 'like' button. If a search result is what you were looking for, then click 'like'. The more a link is liked then the higher up it'll appear in search results. A voting down system could be implemented, but that would probably be open to abuse, with sites voting down their rivals en masse.

Google already have a similar feature where results can be voted up, but Facebook can go further. Facebook knows an awful lot about you; not just your age and location, but your job, what films you like, which celebrities you admire etc etc. Whatever you say or ‘like’ on Facebook could be added to the algorithm used to provide your search results.

Recent comments could also be included, giving a quick review of if the link is relevant to your search or not.

Yes, it's completely open to abuse but so was the system Facebook used to translate their site into other languages, but the process of letting the users say what is the correct and incorrect translation worked so well that complete new languages were added to the site in mere days.

Facebook Search could make searching more accurate. Instead of searching for 'restaurant in Surbiton' and getting a random list, you'd get reviews and ratings, with the most popular restaurant appearing at the top. Link it to your own Facebook friends and their mentions of restaurants in Surbiton could also appear.

This personal, human search would grow incredibly quickly. Facebook has 600 million active users and half of these visit the site every day.

 

Eric Schmidt said this week that the future Google “will just know” what you want to search for, and while we maybe some time away from mind-reading, we’re definitely heading in the right direction.

 

Your mobile phone knows where you are, and once logged into Facebook it knows what you like, what you’re friends like. Now enter a to do list into your phone. ‘Buy new jeans’ might be on your list. Your phone – using data from Facebook about what brands you like, and any recent sales mentioned or purchases made by your friends – could prompt you when a relevant shop is nearby.

 

Yes, this sounds like a mobile phone that stalks your life, but I think it could be useful. The whole idea of crowd sourcing information is exciting; getting real, recommended search results instead of what Google thinks you want could be huge. The quantity of data we give Facebook is vast and this has already led to very targeted advertising. I think a targeted, useful search could be Zuckerburg’s next plan.