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Social Networking: convenience versus experience

Wednesday, 25 June 2008 — by

Social Networks are the venues that pull people together on the web, either by theme, activity or any number of things. As a designer and the owner of a mind that loves to be visually engaged and stimulated, I enjoy shiny new stuff that attacks a problem from a previously unseen angle. However, convenience and experience are odd bed fellows, often not seen in the same room together…

A lot of people seem to like FriendFeed, which has its plus points, but as a visual experience, it’s broadly akin to brushing teeth. Contrast that with Plurk and you see the chasm widen to an insurmountable void.

But then look at Plurk from the point of view of convenience, then contrast against FriendFeed and much the same gulf exists. So what gives?

Well, this is one of the oranges versus apples comparison scenarios I see a lot of. There’s no sensible way of comparing FriendFeed, or SocialThing for that matter, to Plurk, Twitter, Jaiku, Pownce et cetera. Why? Because the former are aggregations of the latter.

So while the latter are mostly about the experience (with the exception of Twitter, since there is no meaningful experience to speak of), the former are all about the convenience.

Web services like Twhirl, Twitterrific, the Adobe Air Pownce client and Ping.fm all offer convenience in the sense that they remove us from the need to actually visit those websites they aggregate.

Ping.fm goes one step further by aggregating many of those services so we’re able to post to them from one source.

For someone like me, the utility of services like Ping.fm is limited. I’m rarely that far from a computer that I’d need to use mobile services, let alone posting from one point.

I actually enjoy using Plurk and I wouldn’t want to reduce that experience to just another shout box on yet another aggregator. Also, when I’m on Facebook, I’m usually doing several things while I’m there, so there’s little sense using something like Ping.fm to update just my status.

I’m not trying to establish a right or a wrong, here. All I’m doing is wending my way through the various aspects of the whole Social Networking interaction thing.

As I said, I’m not much of a mobile user, but I know of quite a few people who are and services like these must be an absolute must.

Thankfully, this is all about choice; no developer would dare claim to have struck Social Networking gold without an API (Application Programming Interface), allowing everyone else to integrate into some other service or another.

The sheer interchangeability approximates to Plug & Play for the web, whereby Social Networks as well as Social Media websites loosely or tightly integrate with each other.

Question is, which do you prefer, convenience versus experience?

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Phil → Wednesday, 25 June 2008 @ 15:50 BDT

I was enamored w/ Pownce for a while but the darn thing seems so slow. I’ve just returned to Twitter and Jaiku using Imified to post to both simultaneously.

One of my growing priorities is to have access without running additional software. As a developer I demand maximum performance from my machine. I’ve also moved towards reducing my number of networks as there seems to be a diminishing return and lack of time to give multiple networks much attention.

Sorry Comments are close. Quite possibly for a good reason. Share your thoughts on some of my other posts or contact me directly.

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