Just because you use social media it doesn't make you a social media user.

SharingIn his post "The danger of social media falling in on itself" Steven Hodson argues that sites like FriendFeed could potentially kill the likes of Twitter or Flickr as more people interact with their contacts via the FriendFeed interface without actually visiting the source sites.

While FriendFeed happens to allow posting of messages and comments these are secondary to its primary function of being an aggregator and, as Steven says in a subsequent comment, FriendFeed could not survive without those services it aggregates; it would be self defeating for FriendFeed to kill other services unless it changed its own model.

Using Flickr as an example, FriendFeed could only compete if it allowed you to store your pictures on its servers instead. Even if this were to happen Flickr would still remain dominant as it has become the 'go to' resource to upload your photos; this is something that goes way beyond 'social media' users.

Task oriented

Admittedly, anyone who uses something like Flickr is technically a social media user but the majority don't see it that way - they are just looking for a way to perform a specific task such as share their images. Returning to Jim Tobin's post "Think Before You Ning" he states:

 "Nobody wants to join a social network – and they never have"

The point he was trying to make appears to have gotten lost somewhere in the discussion but is totally correct. People do not wake up one morning and think to themselves "I know, I'll join a social network today". Instead, they may think "I need to find a website which will allow me to upload my photos so the rest of the family can see them". Social Media and Web 2.0 is task oriented.

Of the millions of Flickr users - be they uploading content or searching for images to use - how many access that content via means other than the Flickr website? The answer will be an incredibly small percentage which illustrates that the average person is often not interested in the ecosystem that exists around the periphery of a service, only the core service itself. Once using a service they may become involved in the more 'social' aspect of it but this will be as an aside. Even Flickr itself has "Keep in touch" as the last item on its 7 point tour so little emphasis is placed on the social networking side of things.

Until the 'concept' of social media becomes ubiquitous, rather than those services we place under its umbrella, the services and web sites will remain predominantly isolated with only a limited subset of users making use of sites like FriendFeed.

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Image by Andy Woo.

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"Read and Comment" day.

Last week, Chris Brogan suggested that today, April 28th should be pronounced Read and Comment Day where we should all get out in to the blogosphere, find some good stuff and add your thoughts in order to progress the conversation. It's a great idea and I intend to do exactly that but, in a sense, it is a shame that we need such a call to action.

So, go on, get out there and participate.

Bringing the conversation home.

A lot has been said about the way conversations are fragmenting across the web due to the ability to leave comments in places other than at the original source. I've had my say as have many other bloggers.

Attempts are being made to re-centralise comments - such as disqus, fav.or.it and the FriendFeed plugin for WordPress - and we now have a new offering from Rob Diana of the Regular Geek blog called YackTrack.

YackTrack is designed to poll a number of services for comments that relate to a given URL (of a blog post for example) and gather the comments into one location. At present YackTrack supports Digg, Disqus, FriendFeed, Mixx, StumbleUpon, Technorati, and WordPress blogs with plans to incorporate others.

I have built a link to YackTrack which is displayed in each post so you can easily see what is being said in all of the supported locations.

YackTrack is gaining quite a bit of exposure which seems to surprise Rob, he mentioned by email: "I am getting a little more attention than I thought I would" but any service which aims to bring order to such a contentious area is bound to get noticed.

I look forward to seeing how this service develops but, for now, check out Rob's post at for more information.

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Colin Walker Colin Walker colin@colinwalker.blog