Social spaghetti


Someone kindly sent me an invitation to join Google+ yesterday. And join I did. I joined the bejesus out of it. Although I couldn’t tell you why.

…Because I have no idea. I certainly didn’t need to.

A quick check of the ‘Social’ folder on my iPhone tells me I now have no less than six apps which are of the networking variety. Let’s take a quick look at each one:

  • Twitter: the most interesting and useful of all six. A genuinely brilliant and concise way of sharing web content and keeping up to date with whatever it is that you’re into. Those who long for the day of unlimited character length tweets are missing the point entirely. If that ever happens, the site will be rendered pointless. Those 140 characters are key to its success.
  • Facebook: unadulterated, mindless attention-seeking and photo sharing housed in a truly dreadful website and even worse iOS app. It’s also the only place where people you went to school with beg to be your friend, regardless of the fact they spent their entire time at school ignoring you. Observing the startling fall from grace of those you once deemed untouchable is quite enjoyable, though.
  • Foursquare: a limited shelf life, when you realise that all you’re doing is telling people where you are and they, in turn, couldn’t give two shits.
  • Linkedin: the corporate world’s Facebook where the number of ‘connections’ you have is directly proportional to the perceived length of your penis. From what I can tell, there is no other point to the site (I have 28 connection, incidentally).
  • Soundtracking: probably the most self-indulgent of all six. It allows you to build the ‘soundtrack to your life’ by boring people to death with what you’re currently listening to. A useful, free marketing tool for labels, mind, and that has to be praised.
  • Google+: new, currently invite-only but, as far as I can tell, far more sensibly designed than Facebook. It also allows you to arrange your friends into ‘circles’, which they are not aware of. You know, pretty much like you do in your head, in real life – friends, family, work colleague, morons, etc.

This leaves us in a tangled web of interconnecting online databases with which we share, inform and bore. Updates from Foursquare can be automatically fed through to Twitter, whose tweets can be shoved directly into Facebook, which automatically displays the latest music you’re listening to via Soundtracking. Ultimately, this means you end up with the same list of your previous actions on every site, albeit with a free bit of advertising from the original source.

Sound confusing? It is.

This all begs the question – why don’t they all just get together and create one service? A mammoth social network which takes the best bits from every system above. Sound impossible? Well, it probably is, but it won’t stop me suggesting it.

We all accept advertising is inevitably going to appear on the majority of these sites, so that’s ok – let them all share the profits. I’m sure the people behind Twitter would welcome some real cash rather than hypothetical flotation valuations.

Get the governments involved. Get them to fund that rather than hair-brained Big Society schemes.

The biggest problem, though? What do we call it? Facebotwittsquaretrackingin+? I’m sure there’s other, minor technical and comercial implications, but we can cross those bridges when we reach them. This must be decided first. Answers on a postcard, please – I’m starting to bore myself.

Who’s in? Mr Zuckerberg?

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