It’s probably a sign of both the times and the work that I do at I’m now involved in a good handful of “social media” outlets (despite not being hyper-social in real life. I once joked to a friend that I had 400 friends on Facebook but about 10 actual friends). And as I both produce and consume media in these outlets, it has occurred to me that people are increasingly cross-posting their content from one venue to others, and that I don’t care for it.
I write this blog, and if you are here, presumably you read it. And if you are here reading it (whether you got here from search, because you bookmarked the site, via RSS or through a shortened link), my guess is that you are here to read a specific type of content – in this case longer-form posts largely about technology, venture capital or the other thoughts Stuart and I have on related topics.
If you are one of my roughly 400 friends on Facebook, you are looking for a different type of interaction with me. I view Facebook as the venue for sharing shorter-form, more personal content, and in a greater variety of formats (photo, video, etc…).
If you follow me on Twitter, my perception is that I’m one of a significant number of people in your stream, and that my job is to add interesting (and short, obviously) thoughts, observations and links, that hopefully contribute to an ongoing river of content to which you’ve opted in. I assume if you are following me on Twitter, that we don’t necessarily know each other, and that you’re opted into my content because you get value from it, and that I should try to live up to that (although I’m sure I don’t always do so).
Similarly, if you follow me on tumblr, I’m part of a larger community, and it’s less about reading my content in a linear way (and if you go to my tumblelog you’ll agree that wouldn’t be useful), but rather see me as someone who can add value as you go about trying to curate the internet. I use tumblr primarily for posting interesting things I find on the web, typically quotations from articles that I think those who are like-minded enough to follow me will either enjoy or find edifying.
All of which is a fairly lengthy way of saying – if we’re friends on Facebook, I probably don’t need to see your tweets there. The @replies, check-ins, and other twitter detritus don’t add value to me in the Facebook context. Chances are if we’re friends on Facebook I follow you on Twitter anyway. If you are a tumblr user who is piping out all of your tumblr posts to Twitter, you are probably subtracting value as well. What I get is a garbled few words of some reblog you did followed by shortened URL. While there is a weak user discovery argument to be made, mostly you’re just cluttering up my twitter stream.
I think the only real exception to this observation is putting short pointers to long-form blog content into other networks. And this largely escapes condemnation because the frequency is by nature going to be very low. I recognize that not every person who follows me on Twitter will subscribe to this blog, but the contents of my authoring (and the audiences thereof) are analogous enough that I think the tradeoff in signal/noise is worthwhile for those who might choose to follow the link to the one blog post every few days that I put up. But with this exception aside, I think people do their social graphs a disservice by spraying content across all of their networks. As I interact with the four social networking services in which I regularly participate (Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, tumblr), I have a distinct purpose for each and a distinctive graph within each service. They aren’t fungible alternatives to one another, and people who cross-post everywhere are subtracting value and ultimately good will. Which is kind of the point of all of this.