March 9, 2010

Rudeness, 'too good for me' don't belong on Internet

My latest trip to the rant box began with a post I mostly agree with -  For Many Families, Facebook is the Real World Web.

Indeed, if I had to limit myself today to just one Internet tool/service Facebook would be my choice.

Fortunately, I don't have to choose just one service because I make time to try other services and tools. I like testing the new products, talking about the new ideas, and figuring out how to use it to do the most good. I'm an information junkie, an early adopter, and, in the eyes of some, a techie or geek of long standing.

That eagerness makes me different from the majority. And, like in the physical world, I feel a need to respect differences and not make everyone be me.

Feeling left out

If most of the family are meat-eaters, how polite is it to force every gathering to be held at the best vegetarian places? And, if I give in and go to their restaurant of choice is it OK for me to roll my eyes and tsk, tsk when they order the 16 ounces of red meat?

When I read Louis Gray's post on families on Facebook, I felt like a meat eater at the world's best vegetarian restaurant. I needed to stop using Facebook, the utility service with lots of good but no best tools, and start using the superior tools like FriendFeed, Twitter, SmugMug, etc. In other words, force feed me the tofu.
"I may prefer Google Buzz and FriendFeed and Twitter and SmugMug and all these other best-of-breed sites for their specific use cases, but thus far, I haven't been able to convert the family to converge with me there."
I don't get that urge to move folks who are comfortable with an all-you-can-eat place over to the sushi bar. That means I don't get why he or anyone else would want to move a family who is using one tool to do more communicating then ever before to a suite of tools.  I think it's rude to want family to give up what they like for something shinier.

But there's a clue in this piece of his post:
"But even more than the raw numbers, the impact Facebook has, from sharing, to members' gestures, to the act of friending and unfriending, cannot be overstated. For while many of us digerati get all atwitter about newer, shinier objects, the mainstream Web has made Facebook their central gathering place to talk with casual friends, family members, and even talk business. Now, activities online affect those offline, and offline events directly impact a response on Facebook."
(Check his post out for some good examples of how his family uses Facebook.)

The new divide

Like I said, I agree with most of what he wrote so I posted at the blog site:

"You've captured the new divide so well. Early adopters, techie people may prefer the new shiny stuff. They may like specific tools for specific tasks. But most people want one-size, one tool for all. They feel safe on Facebook and they can ramp up fast.

Just tonight I watched how fast a series of "Notes" spread. They started as blog posts, but I learned how many people were more comfortable with Notes then with blogs. They also liked the ease of sharing with their own unique audiences. Trust me - more people read the notes I shared then I'll get through Google Reader.

I find that organizations and businesses also are finding it easier, quicker, better to be on Facebook then on the web or out Twittering or even Yahooing. The statistics and feedback are easy to understand and quick to get. The pages remind me of the days of GeoCities and other templated sites. Fill in the blanks and go.

Heck, I even have a new appreciation for the community that can grow around the social media games and applications. I started playing and using them so I could write about them.
But the community aspect is powerful. When I was silenced for a few days on Facebook, I was surprised at how many people missed my comments, statuses and even my FarmVille updates (Hey, they give you a category and box to write in.).

There are some amazing things happening in the Facebook ghetto - or is it the non-Facebook interfaces that are the ghettos and silos?"


Silence surprises

Later, I was surprised again. Despite comments being posted, there was no sign that the blog author was reading them. But if you allow comments at your blog, do you have an obligation to acknowledge them? How quickly?

I'm still uncomfortable with what I did, but I started replying to the comments because I believe if you know something you should share it. And I don't see Facebook as evil (challenging, yes.)

Yak, yak, yak

I also jumped into the conversation on Google Buzz, where again the attitude of superiority because of skills comes through over and over. My blood pressure went up when Gray replied almost instantly to a commenter:
Tyler Romeo - When I read this post, I came to a sort of depressing reality. I agree that Facebook is essentially taking over the world, even when there are better services for the specific features it offers... "

And the reply from Louis Gray - Yup. It is depressing, isn't it! :(.
Excuse me, but for all its faults, Facebook has a lot of pluses. And it is simple and sometimes simple is good. Plus, here's what got me to take a closer look at Facebook and start offering intro classes - people are using Facebook instead of email, voice mail and old-fashioned post office mail.

(By the way, I'm glad I stuck with the Buzz conversation because I think it expanded what needed to be said.)

I was rude 


Meanwhile, a post I started on the topic was prematurely published and I sent an apology to Gray for the crude attack (hey, it is hard for me to criticize in public. When I do, I like to make sure it is a fair piece.)

But before the email exchanged ended, I told him I thought he was being a snob and wondered about his family's reaction. It sounds like his family isn't annoyed by his stance that superior services are available. But as he admits, most of his family probably hasn't read the post. (I'll argue that most of his family finds his Facebook stream overwhelming and skip most of it. Maybe I'll use that idea for another post someday).

Consider audience

That statement was a stark reminder to remember his audience - early adapters or people keenly interested in technology. For them, the blog post is right on, another opportunity to wish more would see the errors of their ways and jump on the next shiny thing.

And that led to more questions for me and why so many posts remain scattered across the Internet or unpublished in this blo:
  • Who am I to tell someone how to use the Internet or any of its tools?
  • Do I know the whole story?
Perhaps Gray is acknowledging the comments off site or in another way? Maybe he is time-starved with other obligations (Indeed, I sat on this post long enough that he is talking over on the blog now.)
  • Who told me that my way - educating and helping people to use the tool of choice, in this case, Facebook, more efficiently and security - is right?
     Perhaps it is better to have people seeking the next best thing, something stronger and more secure then Facebook.
  • Why do I think those with knowledge are obligated to use that to improve what they can?
       See that last perhaps. Besides, Facebook is too old for those with influence to pressure the company into creating a better product.

     And, if I publish this post, have I now taken on the mantle of rudeness and superiority?


  1. It seems much of your concern stemmed from my non-immediate response to some of the comments. Apologies for that. I think you will see I posted late Saturday night and responded to all on Monday. Sunday was day 2 with family followed by several hours of driving home, so I got back to all as quick as I could.

    As for interpretation of best of breed, that is subjective. I believe other sites are the best in their niche, but Facebook is doing a great job of connecting people and these disparate activities.

    Given you largely agreed with me, I think there are a number of different ways this post could have slanted, but I am glad you shared your thoughts.

  2. Steve Hodson recently wrote an article at in which he says that "In the end the Facebook experience isn’t really about being part of the Social Media conversation as it is all about being the guinea pig for the largest Social Marketing experiment on the Web."

    His contention is that Facebook, in spite of clever camouflage, has little to do with social networking and everything to do with marketing. The Facebook people want members to stay within the confines of facebook so that they can sell, sell, sell.

    I'm afraid that Steve is right. I also believe that this is one of the reasons the 'Digerati' don't focus much of their attention on Facebook.

    Thanks for the article and the opportunity to comment,

    Keep well,

  3. The link for the above post didnt publish but can be found here.

  4. Louis,
    The lack of quick replies was a surprise that generated unease only when I came back to re-read the post Sunday before sharing more my thoughts. That night, I dismissed your lack of responses on the blog post while responding on Google Buzz as another indicator of "digerati ... all atwitter about newer, shinier objects."

    But I felt uncomfortable with the very first reading of your post. It triggered a familiar reaction of not understanding why something can't be good enough. Every new tool seems to bring a new round of "Why don't they use it? Why don't they get it? Why are they still using that old thing? when something so much better exists.

    Even though Facebook seems to be a good place for your family to communicate, your post says to me they'd have a better, richer time if only you could "convert the family to converge with me there," with there being Twitter, Friendfeed, etc.

    I struggled with several slants to this post, including how could I depersonalize it. The point isn't really that Louis Gray wants his family talking elsewhere or how he feeds into and out of Facebook.

    The point is so many with good Internet skills want to keep pushing and pulling people to the next great thing. Or they want to remind us of all the flaws in the thing we're using.

    So even though I love - and will probably borrow some for classes - your Facebook family stories and stats, I get tired of not being bright enough, good enough, right enough because of the tools I choose to use.

    And, in the case of Facebook, I think you'd find a lot more there to like unconditionally if you'd give it a fair shake.

    BTW, I'd love the feedback on how you think the post could have been slanted. Or maybe I should just publish the eight earlier versions of this one. :)

  5. Nic:
    Thanks for the comment and link to an interesting post about Twitter a better place for conversation then Facebook.

    But I don't have a problem with Facebook making a dime off me. Revenue for it means services for me. Maybe if the news organizations had done a better job of using the information it had effectively, there wouldn't be so many unemployed or underemployed journalists and I would know what's happening in my community.

    I also think that conversation on Facebook is more complete then the one on Twitter where I'm limited to 140 characters. I like the richness of Facebook even as I continue to use Twitter to mine for information.

  6. Can you find someone else to write about?