Noel Coward and Facebook

I still find Facebook a bit confusing. Non-intuitive. And I don’t have this problem with other networks. I’m wondering whether this is because I can’t be bothered to spend much time there, so it’s unfamiliar territory, or whether it really is badly designed, or whether I’m just getting old!

I was an early Facebook user and was rather put off by the invitations I would get to sign up for a plethora of pointless apps. “John Smith has just slapped you on the cheek. Click here to add CheekSlap to your profile…” That’s all handled much better now, but I never really got the FB habit.

This is partly because creating blog posts and web sites was already second nature to me by then, and I preferred publishing in a format over which I had more control, and which was more open. Stuff I write here gets found by Google and is accessible to everyone. Stuff in Facebook doesn’t, and isn’t. When I post on my blog, I can notify my FB friends automatically and the post is only one click away. And I can be pretty confident it will still be accessible in decade or two’s time, which is important for me, to the degree that this is a personal diary.

I also started to use Twitter fairly early and my tweets are similarly cross-posted to FB. You can’t conveniently do this the other way around because of Twitter’s 140 char limit. Yes, I suppose you could tweet a link to new FB content, but again, that link would only be of any use to those with FB accounts. Facebook is a closed, walled garden, though admittedly with rather a lot of people inside the walls now! But as Jason Kottke eloquently put it, Facebook is AOL 2.0.

All of this means that I tend to think of FB as a secondary, write-only medium. I actually post quite a bit there, but almost never directly, and I usually only open the site when I get an email notification that a friend has responded. Is this antisocial? People who take from networks and never contribute anything back are sometimes called leeches. What about the other way around?

I prefer to think that I’m just following Noel Coward’s excellent advice about the new medium of his day, television.

Television, he said, is something for appearing on, not for watching.

Well, exactly, dear boy.

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I think facebook works because it has two groups of people: those who go there to share about themselves and those who go there to get info about others.

It’s all about what you use it for. My FaceBook people are a largely different set to my Twitter people (who tend to be more professionally oriented). I don’t and wouldn’t have automatic cross-posting between the two, because I want to target my audiences a little, and have different conversations with different groups. FaceBook is a little more private (even though I protect my tweets) and more personal; many of my old friends are on FaceBook and most certainly not on Twitter; I don’t FB “friend” anyone I currently work with, unless they are definitely a close friend as well as a colleague. I filter out all the annoying apps and games so I simply don’t see those any more.

I assume that things I post on both could or will “get out” onto the wider internet but I appreciate that they aren’t “out” in general. I’m not creating a personal record within public internet space; on FaceBook, I’m finding out what friends are doing and sharing a little of what I’m doing and chatting generally, and on Twitter it’s the same, with a more professional bias.

Thanks Laura – very interesting, not least to have ‘Facebook’ and ‘private’ tied together, and ‘Twitter’ and ‘professional’… πŸ™‚

There’s a study to be done on how formal people consider their communications in each world, I think…

Given the fields I work in, “professional” might be a stretch, but “work-oriented” would certainly be valid πŸ™‚ At least for some definitions of “work” πŸ˜€

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