One of the things that has slowly been rearing its head around the tech & PR blogosphere is the problem of information overload. The blessing of RSS and web services is that they an easy format to automatically transfer information between applications; the curse is that it can become too easy – your post on Twitter updates your Facebook status, and FriendFeed, which in turn updates Facebook newsfeed as well – so now you have the same thing in three places. If Twitter updates your main blog once a day as well that’s a fourth, and if your blog updates Twitter that it has been updates then you can end up in a vicious circle of never-ending updates.
This is an extreme example (and no-one I know is silly enough to do this), but the potential for things to go wrong is there. There are already alarm bells ringing – as Jon Bounds mentioned last month and Duncan Stephen just this week. While Jon proposes a moral code as some sort of solution, I can’t see this working as everyone’s idea of what that code should be will differ; as Duncan says “it just feels right to publicise my blog posts on my Twitter account.” – and who’s to argue with that?
This problem with how people choose to share is touched on in an interesting post at Lewis Webb’s Social PRobiotic:
However, while I’m active across many social sites and networks, there are still boundaries that I want to keep, for example my facebook friends consists only of people I’ve actually met, whereas I have contacts on LinkedIn that I only know through online networking.
The problem is that while Lewis keeps boundaries, others are more liberal about where those boundaries are and what crosses them. Therefore, I can’t help feeling that a technical solution of some sort may be the answer; as more and more people adopt lifestreaming services like Friendfeed or Socialthing. Maybe the answer lies in the rumoured social search tool Mechanical Zoo that Lewis mentions, that’s been the subject of speculation recently. After all, search is only useful if duplicate and meaningless material is stripped out (something Google is considerably better at than its competitors, which makes the fact Mechanical Zoo that is set up by ex-Google employees a tempting hook). Search faces the exact same problem that lifestreaming is trying to deal with, so it would be interesting to see if we can use the same tools to make browsing & feed reading all the easier.