Sunday, May 29, 2011

wishing for the Janus (times 2 or 3) online locus

I've recently been making more use of Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, somewhat at the expense of participation on The WELL, but not entirely so. Each of these has something to offer, and leaves something to be wished for. I've also ramped up my use of RSS (until I became overwhelmed and had to shut it back down), and have three blogs (including this one), a couple of homepages, one dormant, and a couple of dormant domain names.

The blogs are all on Google's Blogger, so that's a single identity, and the active homepage is on The WELL, so that combines with my participation there to form another identity. RSS, the dormant homepage, and the domain names don't really count, for now, but that still leaves me with FIVE online identities, without including accounts on the systems of companies with which I do business.

Meanwhile there's a herd of other social networking sites wanting a piece of that pie, and more joining the melee all the time. It leaves me wondering what they could possibly be thinking, given the time and mental effort participants in existing sites have already invested, and amazed at the numbers reported by the more successful of the newcomers.

But I don't want more places to spread myself across. I want a single service that allows me to present my various aspects as parts of a single whole, allowing me to selectively expose some or all on a per-contact or per-group basis, and which allows me to make finer distinctions regarding sources of input than follow, like, or connect.

As for RSS, it's not the particular feed but the entity behind it, the specific organization, program, university department, startup company, or corporation, that I'm interested in and want to track. Not all of these publish the news I'd like to know about as RSS feeds; some publish press releases to mailing lists, and some merely update their websites. Some even publish news as YouTube videos. I'd like to be able to combine all such sources into a single interface, keeping the extraneous noise to a bare minimum.

So, while new systems competing for your attention, bringing new themes and new variations on the old ones, may help to build out the possibilities of online networking and information distribution, I look forward to the day when these upstarts have combined to form a smaller number of more complete systems, been acquired, or themselves swallowed one of the whales of social networking.

PS, I completely forgot about my Yahoo!/Flickr account, which adds two Yahoo! groups and a Flickr photostream, and a sixth online identity!

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