The idiocy of Social Media conversations

I read a post by Robert Scoble just now that made me laugh out loud. He observes that the discussions over at Friendfeed regarding the financial crisis lack depth and knowledge.

In the past 18 hours I’ve read literally thousands of posts and have done almost nothing but hang out on FriendFeed. I’ve seen a LOT of idiocy. And these are supposedly from the smarter, more educated people around. People who I’ve had a beer or two with and who I count as friends and fellow Americans.

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The downside of this new media world is that you’ll hear a lot of opinions. Which one is right? I’m not always right. In fact, I’m often wrong. But I’ve counted on YOU, the audience, to help me correct that when I’m off in the deep end. Now, though, I’ve seen so much idiocy that I’m not even sure of my audience anymore. That’s how deep our loss of confidence in each other has come.

It made me laugh a bit for 2 reasons. First, Robert is a passionate Friendfeed user and goes through major ups and downs regarding the value of the service.

Secondly he complains about the idiocy within the discussions on Friendfeed and the loss of confidence in his audience there. For some reason Robert assumes there are experts hanging out on Friendfeed that are engaging in thorough, deep discussions.

This assumption is wrong of course. Friendfeed is a cool hangout place for smart people that much is true. It is a specific type of person that hangs around on Friendfeed. Mostly early adopters of web technology. Regardless of the ‘smartness’ of the people that hang out there Friendfeed lacks any support for in-depth discussions.

At best Friendfeed is a bar where we can hang out and ventilate our opinions. Which is fine of course, but hardly in-depth. Besides that, a discussion that possibly involves hundreds of people rarely leads to insight. There is no time to explore, people have to make bold statements in order to hijack the discussion.

Friendfeed provides us the stage for our one minute of glory. Engaging with other cool friendfeed users. It’s a bit like an idols competition. If you engage everywhere and say bold things you might get noted by the crowd and earn the Friendfeed coolness factor.

Does that make Friendfeed useless? Off course not. It can eb a lot of fun. You can meet great people and hang out. But that is exactly what it is. A hang out place for the tech elite. No more and no less. Steven Hodson calls it a silly little corner of the Internet:

Even the idea that a Nobel Laureate of Economics or a discoverer of the Human Genome are going to be found sitting around there computers chumming it up on FriendFeed ot Twitter is ridiculous. Like really, give your head a shake if you believe that. Supposing though that for some incredible reason you did find someone like Stephen Hawking on your friends list do you even thing you would be able to comprehend what the hell they were talking about. Not likely.

So Robert, here’s a suggestion for you. Forget even thinking that places like FriendFeed or Twitter are anything more than really cool places to get together with friends and chew the fat. You know .. just like the old newsgroups or web forums. You want the experts – you’re going to have to go find them where they live because they’re too damn busy to find any value in our silly little corner of the Internet.

You want to have a fun but overall useless conversation hang out on Friendfeed. Nothing wrong with that btw, I love doing that every once in a while. You want in-depth expertise call Steven Hawkins.


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5 Responses to The idiocy of Social Media conversations

  1. Pingback: Idiots on FriendFeed? Say it ain’t so! « Glen Campbell

  2. Hmm, I started an interesting “discussion” on Friendfeed, which sort of proves the point I was making in the post 😉

  3. Pingback: Losing Content Confidence in Friendfeed? What A Load. |

  4. Nicolas Caitan says:

    Alexander. I’m happy to see some critical thinking in FF (I owe FF to let me discover your blog). I read your last posts and I fully agree with you. I’m in no way an early adopter, not a tech-geek, not a social-media expert, simply a person curious about the cultural countours of our time, and as you surely agree, all the talk around Internet and the so-called Information-Knowledge Society, must be interesting for anybody trying to understand ourselves in this era. So my participation in FF is a lot of listening and less of talking. Me and my wife are always discussing about all these issues surrounding social-networks (objectives, impacts, privacy concerns, need, etc), she is always reluctant to try new services, I ‘m the one more engaged in this new trend, but she is the most critical (women wins), because she is working in the field of ITCs by chance, and I now she doesn’t like it. Anyway, all the above is to create some context before saying that I fully agree to your last posts, both worth reading and enjoyable. One serve to reinforce the hypothesis I’ve been discussing with my wife, that FF is “A hang out place for the tech elite. No more and no less” (not so social, or at least social between a tech elite). The other is useful to point out that somebody is asking about users and privacy and not only about business. Happy that somebody is asking the same questions.

  5. Pingback: Looking for economic keys under tech lamp-posts |

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