I’m back on Facebook and Twitter

Yes, you can call me a hypocrite. Yes, I’m still a firm believer in portable data and identity. Pragmatism won out over idealism.

One, an increasing number of sites now use Facebook and/or Twitter exclusively for their user authentication. In this context, having a corporate-controlled ID is unfortunately better than having no ID. Two, at work I’ve had to ask other people to do tasks I should be doing and I’m done feeling weird about that.

This little ol’ weblog is still my preferred publishing residence and that won’t change anytime soon.

Challenges in quitting Twitter and Facebook

On Kommons, Tal asks:

You recently quit both Twitter and Facebook. As someone who works in Internet and media, what challenges have you faced? Will you come back?

Quitting Twitter has been a mixed bag. The most significant challenge is not being able to influence the news innovation zeitgeist as directly or as visibly. This isn’t to say I was all that influential to begin with; rather Twitter has better mechanisms for understanding how what you’re mindthinking resonates with others. Retweets or click-throughs indicate whether you’re on point, @replies show whether people want to engage in conversation on a given subject, and who’s following you is a sign of your reputation within that community. It isn’t quite the same publishing on a personal website where the subscription mechanism is RSS, interactivity is limited to longer-form commenting and trackbacks, and there’s no way of presenting who reads you.

I suppose the second most difficult challenge is tracking conversations. There were 100 or so people whom I’d pay the most attention. The real-time nature of the platform, coupled with people being logged in all the time, creates a space like a large ballroom where you can go ask someone a question at any time. I can still hear snippets of conversation by subscribing to a limited number of people by RSS, or paying more attention to roundups like Nieman Lab’s, but the experience is only 50% as engaging as it used to be.

On the flip side, there are two things I’ve been fortunate to escape: the increasingly loud echo chamber any time a bit of news breaks is artfully manufactured and the circular, inward obsession with “social media” on “social media”.

Quitting Facebook was easy, except for a bit of hate from the girlfriend. The only use I’ve been missing people for is looking people up; that Facebook is a structured people database is quite nice. There should be an open equivalent based on microformatted websites.

The honest truth is the first few weeks weren’t tough at all; not spending all my time on (mostly) Twitter and (less so) Facebook meant I’ve had a lot more time to work on new releases for side projects, read long-form, and hang out with my girlfriend. The last week or so has been difficult, I feel disconnected from the hive mind, but I won’t be back until there’s an open, interoperable protocol for real-time publishing I can run on my own server. It’s pretty awesome to be able to look up and reference your content from a few years back.

The river must flow. You can build a dam but the water will find an alternate path.

Liberation

Deleted my Twitter account. Made it to 8,234 tweets, 401 following, 2,056 followers, and 209 lists (for what that’s worth) over three years. I’ve deleted my Facebook account as well. Open systems need more of my attention, and it’s time to vote with my feet.

Interestingly, the language for deleting your Twitter account has changed to “deactivating.” When you deactivate your account, your data isn’t deleted, and your email address and username are tied up, but it’s impossible to restore.