I’m optimistic and delighted every time I open up Twitter on my browser, while Facebook is something I only click on once or twice a day and always with a small sense of dread. This week I sat down to think about why that is.
This post nails it.
This post has gotten some traction from a lot of tech folks and not surprisingly (and deservedly) there’s a lot of agreement about what makes Twitter good (immediacy, interest-based) vs Facebook (history, profile-based). But one thing that nags at me is the primacy placed — even praise heaped upon — Twitter’s focus on real-timeliness and current events and the now. The observation is that Twitter is “good” because it doesn’t have an archive of your past tweets.
So the focus on just the stream of jabbers and thoughts and humor and ideas flowing pass at a blistering pace is a good thing?
I would argue that this is not a good at all. Without history, without remembrance, there can be no context, no basis for reflection and therefore no interpretation and learning that is on any level but the superficial.
That’s the most worrisome trend of digital media today — the productization of everything into a stream and everything into micro-posts has reduced the value of conversation and analysis. Instead of complementing our offline activities and encourage us to be more vertical, the current transient state of online media stretches us horizontally — we like and favorite and retweet at an ever more furious pace, but this isn’t really conversation, it’s just the ever faster consumption of digital sugary snacks.
Sure, Twitter is probably more interesting than Facebook’s Timeline, but that’s because Twitter’s farther along in the my-online-identiy-is-who-I-aspire-to-be vs who-I-really-am than Facebook; Twitter provides quick sugary jolts of interestingness vs Facebook’s plodding reminders of who you were. In the end, who you are is a combination of what you have done and what you intend to do, the compendium of actions and will to actions — but it’s safe to say that without a look back from time to time, all we’re doing is creating a lot of noise.
TL;DR version: I like the idea of archives (hi Tumblr!) and think there’s tons to innovate around this feature and the slow media space (hi Medium!). Facebook isn’t bad/boring because it’s focused on your past, but perhaps your past is not as interesting as your hoped for online identity?