Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Masking yourself

Five O'Clock Shadow 88

Originally uploaded by evo_terra

I'm what you'd call a moderate reader of Laughing Squid. It comes in my RSS feed, and I'd say about 30-40% of the articles interest me. That's actually fairly good, as I tend to blow through news items only looking for the tasty morsels of goodness.

But I must take exception with a recent post entitled Social Network Message Autoresponder.

I get the complaint. I really and truly do. We have this fantastic communication tool called email, so why don't we just get folks to use it more often? Well... three reasons:

  1. One size does not necessarily fit all - Email may be your chosen way to communicate, but it's obviously not the preferred method for the person who reached out to you via some social site. And unless I'm mistaken, the only way they can contact you through said social media site is if you already have a profile on said social graph, yes? This look like a cake-eat situation.

  2. My grandma makes the same argument for paper letters - This works really well for my grandma, but not so much for me. The same in reverse holds true for my son. If I email him, it takes him days to respond. But if I send him a message on MyFace, he responds in minutes. This one relates to #1 above, but I felt it was strong enough to stand on it's own.

  3. Email is overloaded - While it may still be hailed as the killer app, it's losing its charm for many of us. I dread opening the inbox some times, and I even keep the damn thing cleaned out! Thank the gods for RSS feeds and readers, or I'd be out of my gourd. And if there was a way to route email to an RSS feed, I'd be in hog heaven!

As I stated earlier, I sympathize. Heck, I was in your camp for a while. But since every single social media site I belong can be set to send me an email when someone messages me, and since my browser tends to store my login details, and since the person decided that's how they communicate best, I'm happy to take off the mask an talk to them over there. On my schedule, of course.

Do you try and force the conversation on your terms? Or are you happy to talk where they want to talk? Tell me about it...


  1. I don't know if this is exactly the kind of thing you're talking about, but for me, I try to limit my social networking sites and how much I do on them, because whenever I'm in the middle of a discussion or just posting random comments or meeting new people through various blogs and podcasts and such, I tend to get a little crazy and waste a whole lot of time checking for replies and the like.

    I guess if I could have it on my terms I would demand people to answer me as soon as I posted, lol.

    Seriously though, I'm terrified of the potential need to set up flickr or twitter accounts....assuming we ever have a reason to with this thing.


    P.S. I know it's not a big deal, but it was really cool seeing your comment on the blog today. It really capped off a pretty good day, no work, just some computer seminars, home by 1, USB turntable in the mail, comment from Evo Terra....wait...huh?

    I'm done just lurking on show message boards and blogs :-)

    Very cool.

  2. I sympathize with what Scott is saying on Laughing Squid, but I understand what you are saying.

    I prefer email. I have server side filtering set up so the things that make my INBOX are the things I want in my INBOX (mostly). To me email is flexible, it's been around for a while, I can access it when I don't have web access, and it's not in danger of going away or suddenly becoming overloaded and turning into a LOLcat on me.

    At the same time I realize that other folks prefer other methods, and I don't mind replying to them in kind, perhaps asking if they'd mind taking it to email if it's becoming a hassle.

    But it could be better for everyone involved

    "You have a new message on SocialFoo!"

    Great, since SocialFoo emailed me this, couldn't they have emailed me who it's from AND the contents of the message? I can not think of a good reason for this other than the service wanting to inflate their stats (or it's a plot to flood the tubes).

    You have a new message from BestBuddy on SocialFoo:
    Hey, want to meet up for dinner?

    To reply to this message log into SocialFoo!

    Why can't the "Reply-To:" address be set up like "emailreply-BestBuddy-SomeSecretCode@SocialFoo" where it creates a SocialFoo message to my friend BestBuddy if and only if the email comes from an address I have registered with SocialFoo and it's within 24-48 hours of the original message? Then those who preferred email could stay there, the person on the other end would never know.

    Now if I want to contact BestBuddy, and I don't have an email address I obviously do need to log into SocialFoo to initiate the contact, but that's ok with me. If BestBuddy wants to control the means by which (s)he is contacted that's cool.

  3. And *that* is a fantastic suggestion Jason. This allows you to use the tool you want (email) and them to use the tool they want (MyFace). You get and send mail, they send and get "message". Hell, with APIs... this should be a snap!

    Of course, it doesn't help their page view count at all, but I wonder if a mass-migration would mitigate that? I'm still less-than-impressed with the ROI for advertising on social media sites. And yes, I've done it. Terrible.



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