The Social Web: At Home, At The Bar, And On The Street

We’re constantly seeing comparisons made between Facebook, Friendfeed, Twitter, and various other networks, sometimes these comparisons are valid. The reasons to use these different services collectively, is because the environments are different. These environmental factors describe the type of interaction people use and receive from the service.

Facebook is a home, or more like a group of homes where all of your friends live and the door is always open to you. You can drop in if you like, make a comment about what they’re doing, remark on how they look, chat for a bit, or play some games. The only problem is it’s generally easier to do that in person or on the phone. I’d rather go hangout a restaurant or even just go for a walk. I don’t want to sit at their place all night, that’s not fun.

FriendFeed is like a bar, filled with people that you can interact with, but discussions generally are just 2-3 people. The conversations are short and somewhat random, showing just a sliver of who a person’s identity, if you share an interest on the subject it’s a nice way to connect. You just slide on in to the discussion, and when your ready to move on you just stand up and pass on to the next conversation. Most conversations are amiable, but that doesn’t prevent the occasional fight to flare up and turn into an all out brawl. In general it’s a fun place to just go and hangout, if you visit often enough you’ll begin to recognize the regulars.

Twitter is like walking down a street, filled with people you kind of know. You can hear the chatter from all of these people at once, some of them pitching ideas or trying to sell their wares. Occasionally, you might walk down the street with a friend or group of friends and have a discussion, though it will be drowned a bit by all the noise. The interaction and people are there, but it’s not always the best place to have a discussion, especially if you don’t want to be distracted.

Now a quick list of a few I’m not going to get to deep as this isn’t the point.

Myspace is like a back alley or a subway, sure you might get mugged, but at least there is an

artist playing his music for free, and sometimes they’re great.

Digg is like a newsstand, it carries today’s latest news not exactly the freshest source, but it’s the headline news of the day.

Google is like a massive library index helping you find what you were looking for on the internet. Wikipedia is like a library filled with information, but then again the whole internet is filled with information.

Amazon is the department store, most likely you can browse through it and find what ever you were looking for, plus you might end up picking up some random items.

Hulu and Youtube are like movie theaters, except they constantly have new film to watch.

The point is if you can figure out what kind of data you’re looking for and in the mood for, you can find it quickly. The issue is that if you are new to town, it will take a while to build up your friends in the area, and also find you’re way around, it might take a week or two. The majority of the time people don’t give websites more than an hour or two of poking around, because they don’t know what they are supposed to do.

Most services leave the use cases open to the users’ interpretation, like a playground, we can run wild and have fun with what they have provided us. The opposite is also true you don’t want to have a service where you’re telling the person exactly what to do, people want ideas and examples, they want a clear means to what they can and should do. But the number one thing we have as users is the ability to choose where we want to be at any given time and which one we prefer the most, sure I take my walk through the street every day, but I always end up where I enjoy it the most, and for me that’s at the bar. Where do you like to spend your’ time?