Friends Without Benefits

Lots has been said about the recent (“small“) changes to Twitter that take friends @replies out of your twitter stream unless you are already friends with your friends’ friends (clear as mud? see here. People still think this has something to do with your “mentions” stream). These @replies are not completely hidden from you. You can see actively see these replies if you go directly to a friend’s twitter page or if you have their RSS feed, but if you “follow” them you no longer have the choice of seeing this correspondence. This correspondence, initially, gives you a one-sided look into other potential conversations and relationships and is an exciting part of the service. Twitter is essentially penalizing a person if you seek a fuller relationship. Since removing the option from the user, Twitter decided for us that this is mainly noise and backed this up by saying the engineers were having “technical problems” scaling with the growth of the service. That may be true, but why not turn this into a community challenge to fix (see Netflix Prize)? If you want the choice of seeing everything a friend you follow posts, you can’t use Twitter as it is presented to you in the most logical manner. You have to visit via a web page or use your feed reader, as well as your favourite app of choice.

I noticed a similar limiting behaviour with Flickr. If you grab an RSS feed of a person’s photostream, you get updated every time they post new photos. This is how I approach a stranger on the service without having to contact them. If I was brave enough to become a contact, you are given the choice of seeing 1 photo or 5 photos per upload update but not everything. It is then up to you to click on through and see if more photos had been uploaded as part of the process. See where this is going? It is another case of limiting the interaction of people that took the effort, and in this case money, to actually sign-up to a service. Is this another technical limitation? Or is Flickr deciding it is better way to present the information with limited choice. Either way, I would like the option to participate differently and increase the intimacy in world of social media.

Do you know any other examples of companies that are pinching the converted?


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Boost Ventilator

Creator and applier of words, pictures, and videos since logging onto CompuServe in 1993. Natural collaborator and BS detector.

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