Josh Catone of Read/WriteWeb calls it the Lifestreaming Backlash.
I call it ‘What were they thinking?!’
First we all lived happily in our respective communities, and we talked to the neighbours about the new family that moved in two streets away from us, and discussed the weather with the baker’s wife. Then the internet came along (yes I’m skipping radio and TV and telephone), and all of a sudden we were all important people who had a blog to tell the world about the new family that moved in two streets away from us, and about the weather in our small part of the world. Then.. Twitter came. Causing loads of people to tell the world that not only a new family moved in, but we’re going to the hairdresser in 5 minutes, now we’re in a traffic jam, and we had a peanut butter sandwich for lunch. Oh, and my nail just ripped. And of course it’s majorly important to send out a Tweet to the world about what colour we’ll paint the kitchen wall.
Do we really think that our 341 followers have only our Twitter feed to follow? Maybe if you’re an internet celebrity, all your Tweets will be deemed important and interesting (regardless of whether they are!), but for the rest of us, it’s mostly meaningless twittering. And now, people are starting to see the light. They subscribed to Twitter feeds, Facebook feeds, and Flickr feeds, and realize it’s too much work keeping up.
So they got a feeds feed. A feeds aggregator that gathers all your different feeds into one big one, and called it “lifestreaming”. But even when using a lifestream aggregator such as FriendFeed, the amount of information is immense. You still have to read every Tweet before you can say whether it’s worth reading, or not. Too late, you read it already. Unlike regular website or blog RSS feeds, Twitter feeds are updated constantly. People update websites and blogs once a day, or once a week, or even less. Tweets are sent out a lot more often, causing a stream of unstoppable information.
Now, instead of simply considering Twittering less, they invented filters. Facebook uses sliders for that – show more, or less of a certain type of information. But what does that do? I think it means that the Tweet about a ripped nail might perhaps not reach you. Or, it does, but you won’t be aware of your friend’s new colour for the kitchen wall. On the other side of it, the Tweet about your peanut butter sandwich, may not reach any one of your Twitter followers. So why did you Tweet it? Wouldn’t it be far more productive, satisfying and meaningful to just call your Mum on the phone, and while asking her how she’s doing today, tell her you had a peanut butter sandwich?
Josh Catone defends the lifestreaming concept by saying it’s in its infancy, and someone will come up with a solution to the information overload sooner or later.
My personal totally illogical and of course never coming true prediction is, that not the filters or any other yet to be invented solutions are the answer to the information overload, but the people. They will (eventually – my guess is around 2010) stop Twittering meaningless information that no one but their Mum is interested in. I can see two ways of Twitter remaining in existence: either the Tweets will be limited to (semi-)useful information, or Twitter will adapt to being nothing more than a personal shoutbox where no one reads anybody else’s Tweets anymore. After all, texting your minute-to-minute whereabouts is still easier than jotting it down on a piece of paper.
As I said – illogical, never coming true.
In the meantime, it’s the perfect celebrity test. If you can send a Tweet about eating a simple peanut butter sandwich, and anyone but your Mum or closest friend thinks it’s worth responding to via Twitter, you’re a celeb.