Disclaimer: I am not a programmer – last time I put machine instructions together, they were three-letter acronyms like STO, RCL and the like. So I really have no idea if what I am saying is difficult, easy or impossible. But I consider myself marginally more advanced than the average user, so I will try to explain things as I would to a programmer that is collecting input for a new release of a software.
Disclaimer II: I have ranted several times over the peculiarity of the Digital Self and complained that although it is logically my stuff, I d not control most of it. See other posts in this category for more detail on what is the Digital Self, etc. In this post I am mostly focusing on the Social Graph element.
It just drives me crazy how stuff like Facebook or Twitter (or G+ if that’s your cup of tea) can be maddeningly counterintuitive to use. Yet I am sure these are companies large enought to have armies of people perusing how their users deal with the ever growing array of functionality and they have user bases counting in the tens of millions. I know they will say that what one user wants is hated by another user, so they must try to focus on the stuff that will make the largest number of people happy, so consider this my two cents.
Most SoMe have realized than when follower / following population grow past a couple hundred, the average user is overwhelmed; this becomes even more apparent if you include high-frequency posters like Robert Scoble or Joichi Ito.
And while Users can now be grouped in clusters in most properties, the resulting streams all flow into a big undifferentiated bucket. G+ took a step in the right direction by creating individual streams for each Circle, but that is not what you need: user clusters are in fact usually based on the relationship I have with the people in the cluster, not on the topic they deal with. I may have a Circle of my ex-colleagues, but some might be in Software Development and others in Finance.
Moreover, some may be high-frequency, some may be very low.
What I need is therefore a dual category / tag classification system (like you find in most bogs and perhaps a boolean algebra to allow me to build a Stream out of “all the people I know who deal with Blogging except Scoble”
This is becoming boring, but it is connected to the above; the industry is doing a terrible job at simplifying my life: multiple log-ins lead to poor password management and overall lack of security. Interactions as I move from one walled garden to another is clumsy to the point most people give up.
Any discussion I witnessed over Identity usually become an opportunity to rant pro or against anonymity, which is a completely different discussion IMHO: strong and easy identity management and protection goes (or should go) hand in hand with freedom to express yourself without exposing to reprisals from your government, employer or secret police; communities should equaly be protected from slanderous or unsubstantiated allegations or accusations, but it is worth noting that anonimity or lack therefor dooes not usually impede in any way libelous press articles which ring little or no retribution.
What’s so damn difficult about moving MY stuff from one platform to another? Why can’t I move my pictures from Picasa to Flickr (or vice-versa) if I so decide?
Why can’t I move my blog content from Typepad to Blogger without jumping through a flaming hoop or two? Sure it cannot be anything more complex than a little XML but yet in most cases the lock-in is complete and without recourse. It’s like decideing you will use Vodafone for the next two years. Oh, wait…