Monday, November 14, 2011

The Microblogger's Dilemma

Will every site soon have a "status update" field? How can I possibly update all of them?!

This has passed trend and is headed straight toward pandemic. I suppose because it's so easy to implement, there is a proliferation of "what are you doing now?" kinds of status update opportunities. Twitter. Facebook. LinkedIn. Google Plus. And that's just the biggest, most popular ones, and doesn't consider geolocation updates, which is a whole nother set of sites (FourSquare, etc).

The dilemma is ... which one do you update?  If only one or two interesting things happen to you in a day, or week, what site do you update? I solved this for a while by tying my Twitter account to LinkedIn and Facebook, but there is an unspoken disapproval of this leveraging of posting. You can't be a true Facebook devotee if you only post to Facebook via Twitter, right?  And how could you possibly post both to Google Plus and facebook?!  That's heresy!

[An aside to you Facebook devote├ęs ... yes, I know that they now like their name to be all lower case, but like Wall Street Journal editors, I refuse to follow all weird capitalization schemes, preferring to stick to my own journalistic standards].

If auto-reposting from Twitter to Facebook and LinkedIn is not cool, can I copy/paste the same thing to Facebook and Google Plus?  What if most of the people, like me, are members of all of them? Won't they see through my ruse, and discount my "interestingness" because I post the same thing to all of my microblogs?

If I post different things to each site, what does that mean?  Someone who is interested in what I have to say now has to look in 3 or 4 places?  What a waste of time for them, and for me.

And yet, if you join Facebook, or Twitter, or Google Plus, and neglect them, that's the worst of all, right?

The paradox I find greatest of all is the parallel proliferation of "get funding quick!" sites for angel and vc funding.  I have joined several recently, to look around, in pursuit of elusive angel funding. But if you run, say,, you don't want me to also be on (never mind that the founders of one site may well be active on the other). I actually got an email from somebody at basically saying that I hadn't spent enough time on their site, or filled out enough data, or updated my status enough, and therefore I wasn't worthy of being recommended for investment. It should occur to them that the less time I have to update yet-another web site, the more likely it is that I'm doing actual work worthy of investment. Myopic.

I am posting this diatribe, er, open question, to (gasp!), where I maintain an old-fashioned blog from the middle of the last decade.  It is at least persistent through all these trends, and supports more than 140 characters.  I will, of course, post a link to this through to all my microblogs -- and I will do little else. In order to feed the appetite of these microblogs, I must do that as rabidly as I once processed email (okay, okay, I still do rabidly process email).

I guess my point is ... are we being asked to declare our allegiances to particular vendors/technologies by where we choose to update our status?  What an odd result of a weird little microtrend.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Open Letter to Web Site Developers

Dear Web Site Developer (or misguided management):

Please don't do any of these things on your web sites:
  1. Ask me to enter my email address twice.
  2. Tell me what characters I can and can't use in my password.
  3. Time out my sessions for my own protection.
  4. Make me change my password every so often.
  5. Make every field in your form *required.
  6. Make it impossible for me to change my email address.
  7. Insist that I provide you with a security question and answer.
I know how to type my email address and I know more about how to create a secure password than you do, and I do not forget my passwords. You have meetings where you talk about "reducing friction" for people to join your sites. You create friction every time I log in, not just when I sign up.

If you are a bank, and your page times out after 5 minutes and I have to log in AGAIN, inside my highly secure physical location with no possible access to my computer by anyone but me ... are you protecting me, or irritating me?

Glenn Reid