“So… App.net, it’s like Twitter, only with way less people on it, and you have to pay for it… uh….”
Two things happened recently that convinced me to take the App.net plunge. First, they changed their pricing scheme, lowering the bar to entry. I can try it for a month for $5, rather than having to commit $50. Brilliant. What made me move however, was the Netbot app by Tapbots. I collect Tapbots apps. Yes this is backwards, but I have the feeling I’m not alone.
24 hours in App.net snapped me back into social media reality (heh…) It reminded me that I’m doing Twitter wrong. In fact, I’m doing Facebook wrong too.
Twitter: Wha… What Happened??
When I first signed up for Twitter I loved it. I had 15 people that I was following and who followed me back. I cared what they were all doing, and they all (except for Gavin and Celly) cared what I was doing. When we were at SXSW 2007, where Twitter really broke out (I think?) among the geek crowd, it was perfect. That was Twitter’s heyday for me.
The signal-to-noise ration was strong. There was very little clutter. The conversation was meaningful. (Maybe I’m glorifying the past?)
Fast forward to today: I’m following 900 people and companies and services. There is so much noise I can’t keep up with any of it in any meaningful way. When I do take the time to try and catch up, I waste time.
I’m changing that, starting today.
Taking Back Twitter
There are many many helpful, edifying things to be heard on Twitter. Many things that really will help you with your career, your personal life, your spiritual life. I can argue that the last 4 years of my career have been largely due to engagement on Twitter.
But, there is also a mountain of meaningless drivel there.
Who are the 500 (300? 100? 50?) most important voices I want in my head? Who do I really need to be paying attention to? This is a question I am now going to seek to answer.
I am going to unfollow way more than half of the people I’m currently following. Don’t take it too personally. I’m seeking highly concentrated input. I will still engage the community. If you mention me, I will reply. If you request a follow so you can DM me, I probably will.
At some point along the line, I adopted the stance “I will friend you on Facebook only if we have met in real life.” Except for the 2 or 3… HUNDRED times I’ve violated that. 2000 friends later, I have a hard time keeping up with people I care for. People with whom I have an actual relationship (virtually or in real-space). I’m going to change that too. I’m going scorched earth on my Facebook “friends” and companies I “like.” In fact, I’m thinking about starting from scratch, family and immediate friends only, and building from there. Yikes.
Privacy! Ownership of your content! They won’t sell my behaviors to advertisers!
Nope. None of that. I really don’t care as much about that on Twitter or Facebook as I probably should. I’m getting something for free, because they are showing me ads. I’d rather those ads be relevant. I have nothing to hide (I don’t think?).
Simply put, App.net is quieter. Like the executive lounge in a hotel or airport. It’s easier to get work done there. Several of the people I care most about are there. I will probably end up paying for my team to be there too if they want. Not everyone is there. I expect most will be sooner than later, like Twitter in the early days. I expect it will grow, again like Twitter. But unlike Twitter, it will never grow to the hundreds of millions, babbling incomprehensibly.
Why? Because there is an entry fee. There is some commitment required. This will restrain growth in positive ways, while still allowing for the app to progress. Twitter and Facebook need volume to sell ads against. App.net doesn’t. This will work.
So here goes nothing.