Warren Ellis Frustrated With Social Media; Highlights a Feature/Bug

Writer and internet presence Warren Ellis recently posted his observations regarding current social media: http://www.warrenellis.com/?p=14404

His complaints aren’t unfounded, and his observations are as ever, spot on.

What is interesting is that perhaps he’s coming up against are not failing of social media, but instead are the result of truly social networks. Facebook, Twitter, even Google+ basically exist to make one-to-one connections. Things start trending, peaking, hyper-sharing, whatever, when it grabs the public and the public movies it.

Warren’s big issue was numbers; too few people actually seeing his content in social media, compared to the much larger amounts of people subscribed to his accounts, pages, etc.

But that’s because he’s looking for a broadcast result in a medium designed to diffuse the content down to individuals interacting.

Essentially, the best way that I can see Warren grabbing as many eyes as possible through the web, is to keep writing blog posts and email list posts, cros-post them on the social media de jour and make it as easy as possible for people to directly subscribe to both. Let the readers share specific posts on their various feeds, cross-post or broadcast when you do post, but don’t look at every name on a Facebook friends list, a Twitter followers list, or any other social media list, as guaranteed eyeballs on content. Let their incidental discovery of your content lead them to accepting the option to receive a constant broadcast versus an incidental random signal.

I can imagine receiving every update from every page and every friend… and I’m exhausted just thinking about it. I don’t expect my social media to be a complete experience of my entire network all at once… if it was I’d never be able to make use of it.

The flipside of this potentially more-human interaction, by virtue of the message become diffuse rather than broadcast, is that we place our trust in the algorithms created by Facebook, Google+, Twitter, etc. Douglas Rushkoff made the point that not knowing the underlying code essentially means we don’t know if we’re being lied to. Or if the content we’re viewing is truly emergent, or if it is highlighting said content with a framework of importance that is obscure to us…

(Warren made another great point about Facebook being the thing you log in to access non-Facebok sites now, though he also denigrates Facebook as something that only serves that purpose. I’d say that it couldn’t have risen to it’s level of single-sign-on usefulness if people weren’t on the site itself, sharing pictures, stories, events, etc.)

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