Nothing's New in the State of Social

Edit: After I posted this, I erroneously attributed RSS as a catch all for what I should have called Simple Syndication Payloads (SSP). Yes, I just made that up. RSS, Atom, etc are examples of an SSP. I’ve written code to parse feeds, and I just assumed RSS/Atom/Whatever when I said RSS. I am not partial to any format over another.

Lately, I’ve felt left wanting. Like I need a new drug, but my name is not Lewis.

Before I start, I should say that I think a lot of social platforms could be really useful in keeping in touch, sharing new ideas, and gathering information from trusted sources.

The problem is that all of the current crop of social systems are designed to do one thing well - monitize us and our eyeballs.

Facebook is so spam laden, I use it more to track places, companies and products more than people. Twitter’s given everyone several reasons to not like their service lately, and as a developer, this is particularly true for me. Path has a fantastic interface, is easy to use, and is actually personal. Problem is that hardly anyone uses it in my circle, particularly with my non-technical friends.

At some point in my life, I noticed that I had kindled a deep relationship with feeds. That was the days of Bloglines, News Gator, and others. Then came Google Reader, and there wasn’t much of a reason to use anything else. There are still sites that I read today, but where I haven’t actually been to that site for years. I’ve been trimming some cruft out of my Reader list, but it still remains the first place I go in order to read something interesting.

Some people post long articles. Some posts are short and to the point. Some are just pictures. A simple feed format, which I would call, a Simple Syndication Payload (SSP) handles all of these with grace. RSS, Atom, Ostatus, PubSubHubbub are examples of an SSP.

Reader can’t really share well with others. It has that capability, but it feels quite a bit like Path - it’s there, but only a handful of people are active. It also doesn’t handle “personal updates” very well either. The “I’m here” or “I’m doing x” type of posts. I could certainly blog these, but it doesn’t quite fit the mental model of how I want to see these special updates.

Which brings me to: What is a tweet really? What is a Facebook update? What is a Path moment?

They’re all just a feed. All of these aforementioned platforms are simply SSP aggregators.

I’m not sure why, but I never thought of it in this manner. It seems to me that when I think of it in this perspective, there are still a lot of amazing possibilities for feeds going forward.

But, honestly, the only one I’m interested in this time around is one where I own my content. Maybe we should all be done with posting content into another social platform so they can own our words, just so they might monitize us.

And with that, is my decree to begin blogging more often again. Of course I’ll be updating on Twitter, FB, etc. Because after all, isn’t it the best place to advertise?