I love RSS. And I love podcasts. But I am not your typical, mainstream consumer. I’m a knowledge worker, and RSS helps me monitor conversations so that I can map communities, and that is very useful for my work. So thank, Dave Winer. I appreciate it. But RSS never achieved mainstream adoption and most podcast listeners never actually subscribe to a newsfeed. It’s too hard. So they stream it off the publishers website as a digital download.
If you look at how the Italian Newspaper La Repubblica is using Facebook “Like” buttons to allow readers to subscribe to news by football team, you’ll see this social plug in being used as an alternative to RSS. You click the “Like” button and get a newsfeed of stories about your football team right inside your profile. How’s that for convenience?
I used to believe the core driver of technology adoption was ease-of-use. That was before I sat in on presentations by Christian Hernandez, Xavier Leclerc and Simon Cross of Facebook. They convinced me that the network effect is actually an even stronger driver, because the cost associated with taking your friends with you to another social network is exceedingly high. I understand my.reallysimple.org is not a social network for interacting, but even with a service like Posterous, unless you an avid live streamer, why would you bother?
Last year, Facebook surpassed Google in total visits. But Google still garners more unique visits. The frequency with which people check Facebook allowed them to supercede Google for total number of visits, which means more people are starting and ending their day on Facebook. For most people, I have to think that this will seriously limit the chances they’ll use some other tool on top of Facebook to communicate.
Never mind that it’s in their best interests, because we flock to where others are. For the last 7 years of my life, as chairman of iPressroom, I was forced to use a PC because our bank’s wire approval system was not Mac compliant. So I wasted I good part of each day on Windows, a decidedly inferior operating system. Once I sold the company, one fo the first things I did was switch back to Mac, because I was no longer responsible for approving wires to our Russian office. What a relief! Scoble is a content machine because he sticks with best of breed solutions. He doesn’t waste his time fiddling around with stuff that doesn’t work well.
But in the case of social networks, if our personal or professional life drags us onto Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin just to participate — whether or not we’re kicking and screaming — ease of use is actually less important than where the action is. The cost associated with dragging people outside of their natural social network is just too high. Sure, there are advantages to a centralized social media engagement dashboard. But these have their drawbacks too. I wrote about this when I covered the risks of social media engagement platforms a while back.
As an information professional, I see value in aggregating all my content somewhere where I control the terms of service. But when you couple Facebook’s 500 million users, with the fact they still have the easiest interface for participation, why would someone other than a social media activist take the time to invest on a new engagement dashboard? Am I missing something?