LEO LAPORTE, a voice I respect, has turned against Google Buzz. In a tweet heard around the world, Leo said, "I have had an epiphany due to this Buzz thing. Social media isn't content. It's narcissistic crap. No one cares. I've been wasting my life!" Leo was upset because it appears that Google Buzz was not piping his content into multiple social networks. "Oh for crying out loud. Nothing I've posted on Google Buzz has been public since August 6. Worst thing? No one noticed. Not even me," he wrote. I hadn't noticed that occurring because I see Leo's stuff through Buzz and his ideas were piping onto my Buzz screen day after day. I don't trust Twitter as a conduit so I don't follow Leo through Twitter. I see Leo through occasional Buzz comments, provided his thoughts drop into the 100 Buzz items that appear when I open Google Mail. But Leo uses Google Buzz as a manifold through which he pipes thoughts to multiple places through the Buzz infrastructure. When Buzz failed to push his content out, Leo started seeing it as a waste of time. He may revert to posting only on his blog and to holding live chat room conversations on the TWIT network. This would be a shame, because doing this would reduce Leo's standing. He would devolve into a broadcaster and live among the crew addicted to the ego-centric rockstar mentality that sucks all the conversation out of these online spaces.
There's a big infrastructure issue here and I hope Leo talks about it during an upcoming episode on This Week in Google. In my mind, Leo should find a knowledgeable player who knows how social "networking pipes" complement online social conversation "transactions". I would never trust the popular social networking systems, mainly because they are not ACID-compliant transactions. I feel uneasy about giving photos of my young daughter to a profit-driven company just so I can share them with her cousins and extended family. After four years using Jaiku or Twitter, I know there are major issues with "durability" and "consistency". Twitter loses data so Twitter won't guarantee anyone a look at all of their tweets. Twitter slows down and burps during major events, meaning it has "scalability" issues. All these weaknesses lead to information getting lost in the pipes.
My use of online social networking has changed since I first dabbled with it in 2006. I try to chat with people and to get joint undertakings happening on local issues. I follow people for their music preferences. I take my book recommendations from Twitter, Amazon, GetGlue, and Amplify. When I find something important, I mark it as a favourite on Twitter or as a bookmark on Delicious. I try to link the most important stuff to self-standing blog posts on InsideView.ie.
I've also become very cautious about the adjective "social" in all these electronic spaces. As Jacquelyn Fan says, "Social Media is anything but social to my way of thinking. Too many people talking and not enough people listening."
Ultan Ó Broin points to several pieces of research from trusted sources (i.e., Global Voices Online and Ethan Zuckerman) that shows "social media does not bring people and their stories together globally. Most online social media users are interested in only what is local and what like-minded people to them are up to."
Every week, news alerts from usability expert Jakob Nielsen reveals that widespread active participation on the web is a myth, with most signed-up people (more than 90 per cent) being “lurkers”. At the moment, Irish blogs are in a state of atrophy, with many bloggers preferring the shorthand style of Twitter. This is not unique to Ireland. Pew researchers show blogging has declined by a factor of 50 per cent for 18-24 year olds.
In my Tipperary Institute classrooms, students completing modules on Media Writing and Social Media raise heartfelt questions about privacy, control of their own copyright, best practise when engaging in popular online causes, the toxic snarky attitude of some leading voices online, and the perishable nature of everything from text messages to blog posts to Twitter cross-talk.
As I go off to read my feeds and to feed the Buzz, I can't help but think I'm the one caught out here. It's not hard to document that my personal reach, when measured in readership of my blog, has declined ever since I've embarked on reading more from others than extending my own thoughts into new and shiny online networks. Thankfully, I'm not alone in this regard. And I haven't ended up in an echo chamber.
Leo Laporte on Google Buzz.
Martin Bryant -- "TWiT's Leo Laporte loses faith in social media"