On how I use Social Media
Published by MartinVarsavsky.net in Internet & Technology with No Comments
Twitter I use a lot, borth for reading and producing content. Twitter is like the newswire for me, like those news summaries that appear down below on CNN (or used to because I haven’t watch TV in so long). Twitter is great for breaking news. Also for short interactions and some fun moments. Twitter is trying to kill DM and that is bad, they should take out the 140 character limitation in DM so you can have deeper one to one discussions. So you can combine the public with the private. Twitter should also not count the characters of links to give you a few more characters for the occasional moments you need them. The URL shortener war is absurd.
Facebook is only about friends for me, I used to have 4000 “friends” now I have around 600. Sorry if I erased you. But now I know almost all of them, if not in person at least virtually pretty well. Facebook is about more private things and I use “friends only” a lot. I know Facebook is dying to make money out of me showing whatever I post to anyone to get more activity and impressions. And the same is true for a lot of Facebook users. So I battle Facebook on that and many times I lose and I am annoyed when a friend of a friend who I don’t know appears, even though they are mostly nice I should say. In terms of politeness Facebook wins the prize. The only non private part of Facebook that I use is groups, and those work well to liaise along themes or narrow lines. What Facebook needs to come up with is a paid version like LinkedIn and show ads for those who don’t pay. Also Facebook attempts in advertising have been clumsy so far. Facebook thrives at connecting people but is very poor at trying to have them buy something. I would gladly pay $7 per month to give no incentive to Facebook to spy on me to sell me ads.
I use Google+ for drafts, I have an idea and I put a first draft on Google +, I then get criticisms, comments, and I improve or modify my original idea into something deeper, I do more research on my own and then I go to my blog, generally my English blog. Google+ has great ideas and a wonderful design on mobile. I just wish more people used it as it also has no ads.
Tumblr (I am an investor) I use for shorter articles, I am also aware that what comes out in my Tumblr goes on Twitter as I have them linked. Tumblr is great to discover longer form and visual content. Their discovery platform is still poor but I know it will get better. And what you find is just beautiful. Tumblr also lacks comments but that can be both a good and a bad thing. In the one hand you stay away from trolls and keep it friendly. On the other hand, the debate always ends up in Twitter and you can miss some interesting comments. And Tumblr gets some original content creators who are mostly there or just there. In Tumblr I follow photography, science, medicine. I used to use Tumblr as a form of self expression, I still do but now I love to discover what others have to say. There is a certain level of aesthetics and professionalism in Tumblr that is missing elsewhere.
Pinterest I don’t get. I see it as closer to Tumblr but kind of messy. I don’t see a lot of original content producers there. It is more kind of “look at what I found Dad”. I am a father of 5 btw and I am used to this show and tell moments. What I don’t like about Pinterest is that it is not about creating your own content. I think it might have an utility as an archive for your personal findings on the Internet, which can be kept private. The Android apps for Pinterest don’t let you post, just look.
Path I just started using it. It is very, very visual and I use it taking advantage of the camera programs in my iPhone and my Samsung Galaxy. I use it for great shots taken with phones. Shots that are the essence of the moment I am in, like a great tweet, but visual. I know you can do much more at Path, but I don’t. The people who answer me in Path I tend to know. They are friends. Path is actually very, very well designed.
Flickr and Picasa
Flickr I love but I have the feeling that it’s dying. Pity because there is tons of quality photography there and I am an amateur photographer. I use Flickr for the photography I do with the Leica M9 or the Canon 5D Mark II. Lately, I’ve been trying 500px and I think it’s the modern version of what Flickr should be. Their iPad app is great. Google+ photos formerly known as Picasa I use. I like the fact that many pictures go there from my Android. They also go to iPhoto from my iPhone the same way. Both systems are good for not losing pictures even though you have to erase many. I wish they would ask you if you want to update them.
I love Snapseed on the iPhone and iPad. It is simple, very well designed and you can take great pictures to post in social networks. Instagram I use but sometimes with pictures I took with Snapseed cause otherwise all Instagrams look alike. They do have a great community at Instagram also made of mostly nice people.
YouTube is another beast. In the video world I prefer Vimeo. But Youtube has huge audiences that have given millions of views to my videos so I go on placing them there in spite of the horrendous, idiotic level of commentary. I have rarely seen a smart person commenting on a video on Youtube. Dante’s inferno said “lasciate ogni speranza voi che entrate” and that is today very applicable to the level of Youtube commentary. I many times just don’t let people comment on my videos in order to avoid racism and plain idiocy. Now Vimeo is another world. Vimeo is like Tumblr in video. There is amazing quality beautiful videos there.
Foursquare and Google Maps
Foursquare is so focused on the stupid game of being a mayor of your bathroom that you sometimes forget that it’s also like a Spotify for geographical locations. It is interesting to find good curated lists of say restaurants in South Beach Miami. The lists have been enhanced in their latest updates. I use Google Maps a lot. In any case since I invested in Dopplr and Plazes I have always believed in the social value of city exploration and I know we will accomplish more in this area. Google and Foursquare are half way there with different solutions for similar needs.
Until LinkedIn invited me to write for the site I was using it little. Fon was using it to recruit but not me personally. Now that my posts get so much engagement there I find that with LinkedIn I can interact with the most educated audience of any site. At least when focused on professional endeavors.
Is messenger social media? I think it is. Skype is social by nature, and I use it either in very intimate situations or non intimate at all, like job interviews. BBM I have with two of my children who are still on Blackberry and a few other people who have not given up. Whatsapp keeps me in touch with some others who are across platforms, it is uncanny how they got away with the fact that if you have somebody’s phone number you can Whatsapp without acceptance. It makes you want to get a new phone number so ghosts from the past don’t haunt you. SMS is rare for me. Google Talk and the Google + messengers I use but rarely, with an occasional friend who loves it. MSN or Yahoo I have not used for ages. Email I do use and a lot. I like the asynchronicity of it. I like Gmail, it’s brilliant.
Blogs other than mine are also a way to be socially active, reading, leaving comments, and I do read a bunch of blogs, the best way to see what I read is still my Netvibes public page. All the RSS feeds that were kind of killed by Twitter but not totally for me. I love the way Netvibes presents all blogs in one screen for me in my MacBook or any PC. I read many professional blogs such as the Hipertextual blogs, or GigaOm.
My Spanish and English Blogs on WordPress
I try to keep a certain quality level in those blogs. They are me so I better look good :). I have apps for iPhone, Blackberry, to blog from other devices but I mostly blog from my MacBook and after testing the grounds on Google + or Tumblr.
In Spanish I love Meneame, in English Reddit. Social news work for me as the wisdom of the crowds is actually a good editor and I frequently comment.
Social Music and language learning
Those and other formerly non social activities are also getting social, certainly music with Spotify which I use a lot and even language learning with Busuu.
Languages on Social Media
In my case there’s the languages issue. I write more in English because the best content on the web is in English. Spanish even though it is spoken by a great deal of people there is little new science or radical ideas coming out in Spanish. There are some, but few. I also understand French, Italian, Portuguese and Catalan. Catalan is to languages what Path is to social networks 🙂 French is probably the other language were some original content is found. Less so in Italian and Portuguese. I am learning German, if I really spoke German I have a sense that there would be some more original content. But Germans and Northern Europeans in general have an elite who writes in English and that is great.
Gadgets and Social Media
There is another angle to all of this and that is that many social networks are gadget specific. Path is not on the web, the iPhone is great for photography. With the iPhone for example you can be in Instagram as well and I also post on Instagram. You can then post from there to Tumblr and other networks. Not to Google + which is trying to make it all with Google products (a mistake). I use the iPhone 4S, the Samsung Galaxy SII which is amazing, the new Blackberry Bold 9900 which is still the fastest small gadget in which to write and message but poor for almost everything else, the iPad which is perfect for looking at content, not so great for producing it. And then my MacBook Pro which is perfect for typing fast, for editing video, for editing photography.
Follow Martin Varsavsky on Twitter: twitter.com/martinvars
Eduardo Lina on February 26, 2012 · Log in to Reply
Quite interesting, Martín. Once again, there is stuff for me to learn here (I say I have to check a few of the tools you have mentioned here, as I do not know them at all.)
Incidentally, if I get it right, it seems to me that you see the different Social Media as structures in which you organize knowledge you want to share (both personal and professional knowledge). June Abbas in “Structures for Organizing Knowledge” points to a lack of research on personal knowledge spaces (http://www.neal-schuman.com/sok – page 146). It seems that you could be of help to people who might do research on this issue.
jose on February 26, 2012 · Log in to Reply
Can you say how many polluting energy is wasted by your app portfolio and gadgets? Your fingerprint?
Ehab Bandar on February 27, 2012 · Log in to Reply
Hi Martin, I just came across your blog and loving your frankness and insights. Really appreciate it, and now I just have to figure out where I follow you without using every social app out there and seeming like a stalker. Perhaps that’s an idea, a ‘follow all’ button or at least ‘find all’ that helps people know how others are using social media — I’m continually surprised by how little or a lot some friends I care about are using social media and which platforms. BTW, with 5 kids, curious to know if you or your wife use anything to help with what to cook. I’m founder of foodfolio.net and we think it’s a pretty cool way to find, organize and share what you’re making with friends and family. Kinda like pinterest for food, but with original content 🙂
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ben on February 26, 2012 ·
Pretty interesting post, but a bit hard to read. Personally, I think that a person like you, with as many followers/friends as you have, makes a use of social applications that differs from 95% percent of the people, considering the feedback level you can reach. For example, if you ask a question at Twitter or Facebook, someone will probably answer it. Not anybody can say that.
Another thing regarding the modifications you make to your posts: it can be annoying for readers that comment on ideas or concepts you publish and, later, you modify or delete, because the comments would lose their sense.
Anyway, very interesting.