I’ve been reading a lot of stuff lately on trends in Social media from such heavyweights as Louis Grey and Robert Scoble, so I can’t claim these ideas are totally mine, but I’ve struggled with some of the things they’ve been discussing and I’d like to hear your take on it.
In particular, Louis Grey wrote this great article called What Is This Real-Time Thing, And Where Is It Going? I highly recommend reading this as it gives some prescient insight into the direction that some of the big players, like Google and Microsoft, are heading with social media.
Before RSS, you essentially went to a webpage to check out content. You checked it the next day to see if there were any updates and this went on daily. If there were multiple updates on a highly active site, you tended to miss things. Services like PointCast and Smart bookmarks attempted to help you keep up with this content, but only when RSS started to become commonplace did this issue really get nailed down.
With RSS, new content is fed into my reader/aggregator and it waits there until I get to it. I was assured not to miss anything for the first time. Yes, if I’m being honest, there are times when my reader is overloaded with older content I haven’t gotten to and sometimes I end up just clearing it and starting over, but it was a conscious decision and I knew (sort of) what I was giving up.
Now the tables are turning again. This ‘streaming’ model is one in which a large volume of information is flowing past the eyeballs and, if we’re to extend the metaphor, one would dip in for a serving and then pull out and go back in a bit later. This can be seen in such services as Twitter, Facebook, friendfeed, and any of a number of new services.
Here’s my problem. I’m paranoid about missing something, so I don’t like to see things flowing offscreen if I’m not there to see them. For example, I like that Facebook has the “12 new posts” link at the top of the news feed. I can copy the top post to clipboard, click the link to load new content, then do a ‘find’ on that string to pick up where i left off. I don’t miss anything that way, but it can get overwhelming to keep up with.
Is the new expectation that the user simply doesn’t catch everything and that it’s sufficient to catch ‘enough?’ or am I missing some crucial step in the proces that makes this make sense to everyone but me? How is such a stream managed by others like me who have a day job? How do you avoid ‘missing something’ when your browser loses focus to another app as content continues to flow past your visible page?
Back on August 4th, I wrote a letter to my Congressman in support of the House bill HR3200 and asked him to, in turn, support this bill when the House votes next month. Now Congressman Dean Heller is a Republican, so I didn’t expect anything in the way of a serious response. I wasn’t disappointed, although, frankly, I’m surprised I got any kind of response at all from a Republican representative.
I did, however, get a form letter from his office today as a response. There was no effort to adress my specific questions or provide the information I had requested. Instead, I simply got many of the Republican talking points that are parroted around the right-wing media. They were somewhat muted. He didn’t mention mandatory euthanasia for seniors, for example, but he did say that he was against the plan because it would prevent patients from having any choices, would “force…100 million Americans…onto the government plan,” and would drive private insurers out of business. He also mentioned that the government would decide what care the patient actually receives. So, again, just more right-wing fear-mongering.
Here’s the entire letter that I received. I hope it’s readable.
I’ve been pretty active on Twitter, Facebook, Friendfeed, as well as on my blog and comments to news articles in various papers, but I have this fear that the right wing kooks are screaming louder and the lobbyists are throwing too much money around. Well, I can’t compete with the latter, but I can sure raise my voice a few decibels. So, I decided to write a letter (actually an email) to my Congressman to express my opinion and to ask for his help.
I did a quick Google search to see if I could find a good template from a letter someone (smarter than I am) had already drafted — the theory being that they may cite details of which I’m not aware, or that I’ve simply overlooked in my single half-baked attempt to read the 1,000 page house bill. Strangely, I was not able to come up with anything. It seemed I was going to have to come up with it on my own. Following is what I came up with. If anyone is aware of a good template that I missed, please share it with me as I have no qualms about firing off another letter. Besides, I’ve still got two Senators to go.
Dear Sir,I would very much like to express my opinion in a public forum, but I don’t know how to do that in a constructive way. I know many cities and states are holding Townhall meetings during this legislative break to discuss healthcare reform, but I can’t find any information on that for our district. I also know that many of these meetings are being disrupted and torpedoed by the right wing and the healthcare lobby and I’d like an opportunity to stand in opposition to these corporate interests in favor of a reform bill that’s good for the people and not just for big business. Will you please let me know if/when you plan to hold one of these townhall meetings so that I may plan to attend? As a resident of Nevada’s 2nd District, and therefore, your constituent, I have a right to ask you, respectfully, to support the healthcare reform bill (HR3200, I believe), and I believe it is your obligation as the elected representative of the 2nd District of NV to give due consideration to my request as well as the requests of all of your constituents and to disregard the political jockeying that’s going on in Washington, as well as to resist the immense pressure being brought to bear upon you by the lobbyists who are fighting to protect the profits of the companies that employ them. I am grateful for the hard work that you do on our behalf and it is my strong hope that you will continue to do so in a manner that is consistent with the will of the people. Respectfully,
I am in favor of Healthcare Reform. I think we need single-payer or Universal Healthcare system, but I believe a comprehensive reform bill WITH a public option is a positive change.
I would very much appreciate your thoughts as to how this could have been better.