I would broadly describe myself as a technophile. I like new technology and I spend at least as much if not more time than the average citizen online. And as these online activities start to take up more of my time, I find their integration of increasing benefit.
However, I’ve recently started to see where the integration should stop, an endpoint to it all, if you will.
For example, I like that I can post tweets and facebook updates from one to another and vice-versa on the go. I appreciate how my email is synced between the web, my laptop and smartphone. The way my diary is synced through online servers is a godsend. Earlier this morning I read about a new iPhone app that worked with foursquare by saving a list of your favourite destinations, and using geo-technology checked you in to these locations if you visited them, saving you the effort of having to pull out your phone and do it yourself if you couldn’t, or if you forgot. I thought this was a great idea, a great time and effort saver.
The more technically minded readers will all recognise this as Web 2.0, or cloud computing. How all our data and services are synced up to a central server or service allowing us to access all our information, all the time from wherever we are.
But the endpoint I mentioned earlier has also hit me almost like an e-piphany (see what I did there?).
I’ve seen the idea crop up repeatedly from a number of sources that “facebook is for all the friends you’ve made, twitter is for all the friends you should make”. It essentially says that people use facebook to communicate with the people they know, and twitter for the people they’d like to know. Well in that case do I really want constant cross integration between the two? Are the messages I post to one group the same messages I’d like, need or want the other group to see? Certainly not in my case.
Last night I participated in my weekly communications tweet chat – essentially a collection of like minded individuals who come together online and have a communications debate. Messages are exchanged for an hour at a relentless pace, and I certainly wouldn’t want my facebook friends news feeds clogged up with this. It would be like a foreign language and I’d lose them all as friends.
Nor do I appreciate foursquare and twitter linkages. They clog up my twitter stream and I find them irrelevant most of the time. Meanwhile, none of this should appear on linkedin. I can think of many more examples, but the point essentially is this: we’re using and integrating these online services to make our lives easier, but in doing so are we making others lives more difficult?
I think in some cases we are. For me it’s all about self concept, considering how our actions impact on others and how they see our actions from their frame of reference.
In the same way we (used) to be self conscious about how we use our online services and mobile phones in the presence of others in the real world (offline) I think we also need to take a step back and be a bit more self conscious about how we use our online services in the presence of others ONLINE.