In 2005, when I asked Doc Searls, co-author of the Cluetrain Manifesto and Sr Editor of Linux Journal how he keeps up with the massive amount of information that bombards us all, he listed Technorati, Newsgator RSS reader, his blogroll, incoming email, newspapers and magazines and “surfing around.”
When I asked him the same question this week, his list consisted of browser, email, telephone, VOIP, IM and several social networks. He says he tracks keywords rather than feeds, because “I’m more interested in subjects than sources.”
Interesting, because the phone, VOIP and social networks are the new additions to my list too. Searls said he is annoyed by “walled gardens” such Facebook, and that he doesn’t consider Twitter a social network.
“I think everything we call “social” these days are very early prototypes for much better tools that will replace them.
By the way, this is not to say that I have any kind of a low estimation of Twitter’s worth. I think it’s an amazing service for lots of purposes. I’m not sure how many of those purposes are “social” in the sense that, say, the Elks Club is social.
For me, anyway.
I love the way Twitterers and KPBS radio got together to inform the world about what was happening with the fires in San Diego. That was something that Twitter was amazingly well-suited for. On the other hand, again, I don’t think that was especially ‘social’. Helpful, yes; social? Not sure.
Here’s the transcript of my interview with Doc Searls:
Ochman: What are the top four or five information tools or sites you use to keep track of information about your business?
Ochman: Do you still subscribe to email newsletters? How many?
Searls Eight. That’s a guess.
Ochman: How many publications in your RSS reader and how often do you read the feeds?
Searls One: Linux Journal. I read feeds often, but I subscribe mostly to keyword searches, which I keep changing. I am more interested in subjects than sources.
Ochman: Are you active in social networks? Which ones? How often? Why?
I have many social networks: the Berkman Center at Harvard, CITS at UCSB, Linux Journal staff and Alpha Readers, the Public Broadcasting Community, The VRM community, several code development communities (e.g. Linux, Apache), family, neighborhood in Cambridge and Santa Barbara, people I hang with at conferences…
I don’t consider walled gardens such as Facebook “social networks”, even though they have been given that label. I prefer the older definition.
For what it’s worth, Facebook annoys me, even though I do use it to communicate with people who are trapped in its hive and can’t relate any other way.
I like Twitter, but I don’t consider it a social network, for whatever that’s worth.
I find LinkedIn useful but hardly “social.”
I think everything we call “social” these days are very early prototypes for much better tools that will replace them.
I still think Web 2.0 is what we’ll call the next crash.
And I remain optimistic about the future of the Net, in spite of buzzword bubbles and carriers that don’t have any idea how much more the Net matters than telephony and cable TV.
Ochman Very interesting about social networks. How would you define social network? is there an existing example of a true social network online?
Searls Off the top of my head, all the true social networks I know online are mailing lists, most of them informal. Some of them come together as events. FOO, for example: friends of O’reilly. The internet Identity Workshops, which gather the Identity Gang, are a more ad hoc version of the same thing, without one personality, or company, in the middle.
None of the things we call Social Networks now — Facebook, MySpace, etc. — qualify. To me anyway.
Ochman i am not sure why you don’t find twitter to be one. could you possibly elaborate a bit?
Searls I have 1118 followers on Twitter. I have no idea who most of them are. I follow 120 people, of which about 30 are highly active. I know who most of them are, but I don’t see much difference between following them on Twitter and following their blogs in an RSS feed. The methods are different, but the nature is essentially the same. As a blogger I’m making <140 word blog posts for a few hundred people, and as a reader I'm subscribed to a few dozen short-form bloggers. By the way, this is not to say that I have any kind of a low estimation of Twitter's worth. I think it's an amazing service for lots of purposes. I'm not sure how many of those purposes are "social" in the sense that, say, the Elks Club is social. For me, anyway. Jason Calacanis can announce he's in New York and get sixty people together for dinner. If I did the same I might get two, maybe. And I'm not sure I'd want to do that in any case. I love the way Twitterers and KPBS radio got together to inform the world about what was happening with the fires in San Diego. That was something that Twitter was amazingly well-suited for. On the other hand, again, I don't think that was especially 'social'. Helpful, yes; social? Not sure.