Tech Inventory Check: Part 2 (Social Networking)

"I told you something. It was just for you and you told everybody. So I learned cut out the middle man, make it all for everybody, always. Everybody can’t turn around and tell everybody, everybody already knows, I told them." -Childish Gambino

While most of you don’t dwell into the depths of technology that I usually partake in as described in Part 1 of my Tech Inventory Check, I am sure most of you will feel more at earth in understanding the details I will go into in this second part of my check since its focus centers around social networking. These sites are meant to serve as a community to live in on the web. But right now there are too many of insignificance/oversignificiance and only a few that are meant to play in the power struggle. As I see it, the major obvious players are Facebook, Twitter, and Google (with Google+ and YouTube) with Tumblr and Instagram getting some visual attention. But in comparing all these social networks, there are just three points of comparison I need to make.

Point No.1: Twitter > Facebook

So yeah, if you were to ask me which major social network will survive in the long-term and still has room to grow, then the answer is Twitter, hands-down. Whenever you see an @ or a #, you have already made the association. Sports leagues and television shows have been resurrected or have accelerated its fan base with Twitter integration. Moreover, why watch the horrible spectacle that is the MTV VMAs or Golden Globes when you can depend on Twitter to relay you the crazy stuff that’s happened while doing something better. You can get news, whether it’s the death of Osama or Qaddafi, hours before the major outlets report it (ahem, where do you think big media gets their news from now?) Plus, the best way I found to get my media fix is to create a twitter list that follows every media outlet I’m interested in (https://twitter.com/#!/solrey3/media). I do not have to follow these Twitter handles which leaves more room to follow people I want to follow in my feed without the annoying repeat tweet by HuffPo; I like to use Dunbar’s number as a rule of thumb in terms of people I follow on Twitter. More importantly, your twitter feed is defined by who you follow, not who’s following you. Obviously, it’s cool when people follow you, but you get joy in understanding what people publicly feel about things.

Tweeters I Don’t Know Personally But Love Following
1- @WojYahooNBA - a main reason why Yahoo! Sports is WAY better than ESPN.com
2- @phontigallo - because he retweeted my album review of his “Charity Starts At Home”
3- @CobraCommander - this guy is funny, his tweet after the death of Kim Jong-Il “Peace out, Lil’ Kim”

In the end, Facebook still has purpose; it’s meant to serve as a more intimate way to connect to people you really want to stay connected to. Facebook Chat has virtually killed any need for people to hold out on AOL IM. But, to all my “friends”, I don’t need to know what is obliviously obvious (ex., being glad your work day is over) nor do I need to know that you checked-in to every place you’ve driven next to in the past hour. So if you just need something to connect to people near and far, that’s what Facebook is for. But if you need to shout out to the world and can say it in under 140 characters with some meat and wit, Twitter serves as the better service. Yes, as much you may hate that Twitter found a way to play some role, direct or indirect, in anything you do, you still have to get into Facebook to do something in it. Ultimately, since you feel contained in that circle, that becomes a major reason I try to minimize my time in it.

Twitter is the ultimate catch-all tool that doesn’t require tremendous commitment,yet, with a little dedication, can be a self-controlling mechanism for how you use the Web. Whatever you use for blogging, posting, or commenting, Twitter can capture it all. If you still think Twitter is just a micro-blogging tool, then you probably follow Oprah a little too much. The better thing to call Twitter is a micro-media tool. Twitter still has room to evolve into something bigger while Facebook is contained into what it is. Ultimately, Twitter is thee public broadcasting service. If you are afraid that the things you want to say may offend in any way, then don’t tweet it. All that Twitter invokes is that if you have something to share, it doesn’t hurt to share with everyone (which is why I quoted Childish Gambino at the start of this article). And that is what defines your social viability, if you use it.

Point No. 2: WordPress > Tumblr
Tumblr is a great web publishing tool. I gave it a shot for a while and found it easy to use and convenient. Unfortunately, the major drawback is that any information you add to Tumblr now belongs to them. Basically, anything personal you put there you can’t export out. Until that’s allowed, I’ll still use WordPress to host my personal web site. That leads me to the next point…

Point No. 3: Google+ > Tumblr
Tumblr can be a great source for external videos and images. While there are a few good tumblrs out there like gotemcoach, the site has a young user base that just loves to post dozens of pictures a day. Google+ has become an enclave for the geek-centric, tech-savvy, and mature. You tend to put more thought in linking to external posts and hope to provide insight in what you are posting to the public. Yes, it’s hard to get people onto Google+ since most have already dedicated so much time and energy to Facebook. But the ability to control your contacts in circles and integrate with other Google tools you use gives it value and makes it worthwhile in the visible long-term. Plus, it’s configurable enough for the privacy-centric that you don’t have to share with the Public, just the Circles you feel appropriate. It’s because of Circles that Google+ is better Facebook and Twitter as a configurable contact communication tool. But until more and more Facebook users dive into “another” social networking platform, Google+ will remain a0 distant third behind the big two players.

So with those comparisons, there are only 3 tools I use for social networking:

1) Tweeting and Status Updates -> Tweetdeck (UPDATE 2012-02-12: I can no longer recommend Tweetdeck for the Desktop since its integration with Facebook has been faltering.  The best alternative right now is Seesmic. )
This is all you need to tweet or post status updates to Twitter and/or Facebook. You can get your Twitter feed, Twitter list(s), and Facebook feed in one convenient interface. Yes there are many good social network aggregators (HootSuite, yoono) out there, but this tool is great on the desktop and on an Android phone. It’s such a killer app, no wonder Twitter bought it and stripped it down a bit. All that it needs now is a Google+ feed to become your one-stop social networking tool.

2) Personal Posts -> WordPress
I also use ifttt (if this than that) to send my WordPress posts to Twitter and Facebook. To add these posts to Google+, I just have to +1 it for now.

3) External Links -> Google+
I use Rob McGhee to send these posts to Twitter but I decided to make a 2012 commitment not to bleed my external links and comments to the Book. For now, I am minimizing my Facebook usage to chat, messaging, and wishing good friends a happy birthday. Also, I use Google Reader to review blogs I like to read regularly, so sharing posts on Google+ has never been easier with the obvious integration. I understand why Google is taking a lot of heat for for modifying its search to include preference to Google+; tinkering their baby (search) seemed not to benefit the customer. But Google+ does serve as the model of innovation in how social media platforms should move forward.