Frictionless or seamless sharing, how about mindless sharing

The first thing you noticed when Google Buzz was activated was that it turned everyone you’ve ever had email exchange with into a friend. If you think about that for one second, you immediately see that that was a mindless thing to do.  A public outcry ensued forcing Google to make changes, but apparently other people don’t learn from such missteps.

I  regularly use Twitter’s Favourites button to bookmark items that I intend to read later. Once I’m done reading an item I remove it from my Favourites. I do exactly the same thing with Google Reader, just bookmark stuff for reading later. Does that mean that I’m in love with whatever was bookmarked, or that I even like it? Absolutely not. And I think I’m not alone.

A while back, when I discovered that sites apparently unrelated to Facebook were able to use my active Facebook session to automatically display a list of my friends, I was quite annoyed. From that moment on I always log out from Facebook after each visit, and that seemed to have temporarily stopped the stalking. Now, with their so-called frictionless sharing, Facebook is returning with a mirror of that stalking feature: stalk your Internet activity and report it back to Facebook. This is not only dumb, but it also makes the notion of sharing pointless.

I once read an article where Facebook was arguing that Google didn’t get social media because Google didn’t cater for what people actually cared about. Well, I don’t think people necessarily care about everything they may see or touch every day. And I don’t think people care about sharing everything and anything they may see or touch on the Internet either. In this path, I see Facebook losing their way: they are increasingly pushing what Facebook actually care about, if necessary to the detriment of what the user actually cares about, akin to the time when people started calling Google on their mantra of don’t be evil. Facebook and Google seem to be orbiting on opposite directions around the same object, it’s early to tell who is (or isn’t) converging towards that object of desire, but the shape or their trajectories appear similar to me. That would mean that one is getting it more and more, while the other may be missing it more and more.

The way things are going, notions like sharing, caring, friends, all of these things are losing their meaning on the Internet. These notions are naturally about being selective, automatic sharing isn’t selective because it lacks feelings. In our teenage years we want all the attention we can get, and that tend to be just a phase that we grow out of eventually. As we mature we tend to become more focused, hence increasingly selective about the things we do or say or share. The situations where we lose control of what we share can often become taxing experiences for us.

There now exist many sites that offer read later functionality. I’ve not been eagerly using any, but at least those services have a better alignment between user intention and the features that they are offering. But do we ever, in our large masses, want to grab attention all the time on all the things we do? I certainly don’t. I don’t think sharing should be automatic, unless we opt it to be for ourselves. This is why I think Facebook’s frictionless sharing is dumb.