Friday, March 13, 2009

The Future: Less IS More

After taking this week "off" from my social media commitments - I jumped back (literally) into the "stream" of the social collective this morning.

Now, those of you who know me know that I'm not the most "social" person out there - and that at the beginning of this wave of social media - I was skeptical (at best). But after being "out of the loop" for a week - I found that I actually missed the time-sucking, endless noise filtering and discovery of hidden gems in my social networks.


Just due to the sheer number of posts and the fact that there are only 24 hours in a day and the fact that I actually need to do "work" as well - I'm finding that the thing I long for is not *less* information - but information that is categorized in the way that's important to me.

For example, I have limited my followings on Twitter to people that say stuff that I find interesting. Now, I'm only following 76 people - but damn Spanky - some of those folks Tweet in real time. Some of the time it's interesting, and some of the time it's just plain annoying to have (literally) 100+ tweets by ONE person a day.

Even if I could process 7,600 tweets per day (100 tweets * 76 people) - there's no way I actually could. I mean, seriously, can you process 500 of ANYTHING in a single day?

That's just one outlet - Twitter. Then there's Facebook. I have a fair number of friends - a lot of whom are really interesting people - and I make every effort to read their status updates and sometimes the links and videos they post. And, more times than not, they have great things to day.

Then there's the "real time" communications - instant messaging via AIM, GoogleTalk, MSN (yeah, I know!), ICQ, and Skype... these generally are the communications that take the place of a phone call. I typically have 3-20 conversations a day (some are really short) to ping friends, colleagues and customers.

Then, there's Skype, my land line phone and my mobile phone. Oh, and then I check my Gmail, email, SMS, and voicemail.

Then, I read blogs and articles, write blogs and articles - and then I check my snail mail.

Ummmm... yeah.

So this past week I entered my time capsule and have only answered phone calls, "traditional" email and voicemail ( ok, ok, so I did a few IM sessions as well) - and I found out that I really felt out of touch. Yeah, I know - it surprised me as well!

So I started looking around for some stuff to help me to collapse all these information streams so I don't lose (what's left) of my mind. Now before I get 1,000 comments, tweets, IM's, emails, voice mails, status updates - I know that there are a great number of tools that will help me manage the Twitter feed.

That's not the problem.

I need something that will help unify all the streams and then help me to put them in context. To help me keep track of my customer's outgoing and incoming communications, my friend's outgoing and incoming communications, my colleagues' outgoing and incoming communications. That way, I have a context in which I can interact.

One of the services I use is called - it helps me to update all my various social networks in one fell swoop. I use Twitterfeed for the same thing for the incoming Tweets. I use RSS readers for blog updates. I use FriendFeed to try to aggregate the social stuff.

The killer app of the future is NOT going to be another way to stream your thoughts or your content. The killer app of the future is one that will coordinate and help you manage all the stuff you're consuming and creating - by author, by group, by relationship type, by content type, by time frame. It will allow you to set a preferred communication channel for each of these contacts and then when you blast your own content - it will reach out and communicate to the masses - but also in a personalized way to the selected contacts you've indicated in the way(s) those contacts prefers to be contacted in.

The future is LESS, not more. Less programs to manage stream of outgoing and incoming communications, less time spent sifting through 12 different types of communications, less hassles in knowing how to communicate effectively with those you need to communicate with.

Yeah, I've seen the future - and less IS more.

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