social identity problems (and a commentary on the recent fb changes)

There are a lot of ways to create social identity on the internet these days. With the addition of google plus to my social networking, i now have six regular social identities, which feels like a hell of a lot and thus necessitates some analysis and introspection. Specifically, i’m trying to hone in on what i feel the role that each of these social identities have in my overall online social presence – compare and contrast how i choose to share myself through these mediums, particularly the ones that are very similar in nature and thus have a lack of focus or distinction about them, and then hopefully be able to answer how all of these reflect my Actual Identities in real life.

In other words, how do i choose to use facebook differently than google plus? What would make me write a blog entry on my domain blog vs. my livejournal? What constitutes a twitter status over a fb status or a g+ stream post? Some of these questions can be answered, but some of them cannot, and it’s the ones that cannot that i feel i need to focus on and refine.

blogs vs non-blogs

google plus feature request: the expansion of “nearby”

I haven’t done a proper review/analysis of google plus because a) i’m too busy, and b) so many people out there have posted so many opinions and suggestions and blah blah that i feel i’d get lost in the crowd. but the other day as i was visiting my brother at one of the various google offices where he works and we were discussing g+, i hit upon a unique enough idea (i think) that i’d like to see that i thought i’d muster up a post about it since i had some time to kill before i hopped on my flight from san francisco back to new orleans.

Very recently google came out with an iPhone app. it’s a pretty basic no-nonsense app that i like much better than the facebook app for loading time alone. But probably the coolest feature of the app is the ability to see an incoming stream of what is defined as “nearby”. As in, g+ figures out where you’re located, grabs public posts from the nearby area, and puts into its own custom stream.

So okay, g+. now i want that or a better variant of that available on the web version.

A version of this already happens in limited ways on fb. i have a slice of 100ish friends from PA or who used to be from PA, and at certain times, say, during a Philadelphia Phillies game or an Eagles game or similar, my fb wall explodes with people’s reactions to what’s happening in real time. It’s a strange “mob mentality” capture on the internet which at first i found to be one of the negatives of fb but now i kind of like even if it can be annoying when it’s something i don’t give two flips about.

The UI i picture is something like this: you click on a “map stream” button and it takes you to a google map with a circle on it defaulted by your current location and a radius/diameter that’s defined by you. Click OK or Submit and it gives you a stream of any public g+ posts within that circle. Those defaults should probably be saved as “home stream” or something. But then i want to be able to grab any slice of a google map in a circle and do the same thing. Suppose i live in new orleans and i just heard about an earthquake in san francisco, or i’m a big SF 49ers fan and a game is going on. I want to be able to go to my map stream, highlight a circle around the bay area, and see what people in that area have been posting about it.

It has some great novelty value, but also has some meetup/gathering potential if, say, i’m looking for something to do in town or generally want to know if there’s anything happening and want to get a flavor of that from people not necessarily in my own circles. So i use map stream to grab my area, see if anyone is posting about happenings, start a conversation about it or just show up to where the action is.

The other interesting potential is what happens if i select the entire world map during, say, coverage of Obama doing an international speech or during the World Cup. There’s fascinating potential there to observe and analyze social networking behavior that right now isn’t easy to capture using twitter or facebook.

Area streams/feeds are an area that i feel is an untapped potential, one of the more interesting things uncaptured by the current social network paradigm. How about it g+ developers? Seems easy enough to implement since you already do it on the iPhone app. Develop that puppy.

shifting roles of my social media engines

yesterday i came to realize something about the old facebook profile page versus the new facebook profile page, and it’s shifted my mentality when it comes to my social media presence.

The old fb profile page supported fb’s original paradigm that a person’s fb presence was predominantly about statuses. It’s true that on a news feed you get a glimpse of an entire breadth of a person’s fb activity, but when you clicked on a person’s profile page, what you were given was the person’s name and their status that served as what was essentially the “title” of the page. Any other fb activity was hierarchically and literally below that title of name+status.

It’s because of this that i generally prescribed to the no-more-than-one-status-every-twenty-fours-hour rule. to me, statuses had a degree of semi-permanence and importance over anything else that i did on fb as it related specifically to the fb paradigm. importing blog entries, posting up youtube links, even fb photos served more as a conduit, something in which fb was the engine but not the main source, whereas fb statuses *was* essentially facebook.

The new fb profile page abandons putting status messages as a part of the person’s “name title”, and for me that represents a huge hierarchical shift, demoting statuses to an equal level of all other fb wall activity. Statuses no longer stick out over links, photos, game feeds, &c, so amongst a wall where all of that activity is happening, they get lost in the shuffle instead of being immediately in your face.

Resultingly, i feel like my main focus as a fb user has lost its appeal. I still like using fb as a conduit for my other primary residences on the internet and i like keeping up with other people on my wall, but my own status use feels like it’s diminished greatly without that semi-permanence and my conduit use was starting to trend towards overtaking my statuses in any case.

So i’ve decided to do something that i never thought i would do: open a twitter account. twitter is going to completely replace my fb statuses (as in i’m no longer going to do any facebook statuses or at least going to try very hard not to). the original intended twitter paradigm also makes me psychologically feel okay tweeting multiple times in a twenty-four hour period, so chances are i’ll be doing that.

I’m also making a deliberate choice to not import anything relating to my twitter to my fb page. As twitter is essentially the same thing as a fb status, it doesn’t make sense for me to abolish the concept of fb statuses as a main fb focus only to import what could be perceived as a fb status in a conduit format. Particularly since i intend on tweeting more often than i update fb statuses, i have no interest in spamming my friends’ news feeds with that content. fb is better served as my blogs conduit where at most i’ll write twice a day and rarely that. if people are interested enough in my short thoughts, they can get it directly by subscribing to my tweets.

we’ll see how my use of twitter evolves over time, what sort of stuff i may opt to emphasize in my tweets versus others, if at all. I may also just for fun intersperse a random meaningless fb status every once in a while just to throw people, or maybe install one of those rotating fb status things and put up a bunch of nonsense. that kind of fits my sort of aesthetic.