UK Web Focus

Innovation and best practices for the Web

Fragmenting The Discussion?

Posted by Brian Kelly on 29 March 2010

I’m An Occasional Facebook User

I have to admit that although I have a Facebook account I don’t make much use of it. I do have a large number of Facebook contacts  (which I think is a better term than ‘friends’) but tend to use Facebook for dipping into from time to time, such as when I want to get in touch with friends.  I also use it to view photos and videos uploaded by friends, especially those I know from the folk music and sword dancing world.

Automatic Facebook Updates

Facebook view of a blog postIt is only very rarely that I will update my Facebook status. However some time ago I installed the Dopplr app which automatically updates my Facebook wall with details of trips which I have taken (I’ve previously described the reasons I’ve used Dopplr).

Recently I installed the WordPress.com Facebook app which updates my Facebook wall profile with details of new blog posts I’ve published. As can be seen from the accompanying image it provides the title and opening few words from a blog post, together with a link to the original post. In addition, as can be seen from the image, it is possible for my Facebook contacts to provide feedback on the post.

Fragmenting The Discussion?

I’ve recently come across discussions regarding communications for IT support staff at Bath University in which the dangers of using a diversity of publishing and communications channels have been raised. “The discussions will be fragmented” the argument goes, with the suggestion that we should continue to make use of email in order to provide a single place for discussions.

I disagree. I think discussions have always been fragmented and that such fragmentation can be beneficial by allowing different communities to become involved in the discussions thus potentially allowing new insights to be provided.

And the fragmentation isn’t just related to announcements of new blog posts in Facebook – similar discussions can take place when I mention a blog post on my @briankelly Twitter account or when an automated summary is published on my @ukwebfocus Twitter account or my BrianKelly FriendFeed account.

Of course there may be dangers I’ll miss out on comments and discussions which, as the author, I am likely to be interested in.  But this is where I feel it can be beneficial to take responsibility for postings to other environments, as then you are likely to have ways of accessing responses to your posts.

Publishing to Facebook options from WordPressUnlike Twitter and FriendFeed, however, there may be risks that one is spamming one’s contacts with inappropriate status updates. I don’t think this is a significant risk – after  all many of my Facebook contacts have status updates based on whatever is the currently popular app. At one stage this was throwing sheep but now I see status updates along the lines of “Kirsty just earned the ‘Zoologist’ White Ribbon in FarmVille!“.

In addition the WordPress.com Facebook app does allow me to configure the status update or to choose not to update Facebook, as illustrated.

Fragmenting the discussion?  For me it’s about widening the discussion.

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4 Responses to “Fragmenting The Discussion?”

  1. I’ve been looking at SIOC – which is an RDF way to describe communications and forums.

    Where I’m hoping we can have some fun is in joining data from twitter, email & blogs into one big mash…

  2. Wendell said

    I think (I’m not sure) that I picked up more readers for my blog posts when I used the networkblogs-thingy to repost on FB. I’d still be using FB to broadcast were it not for some job-related events which required me to deactivate my account for safety reasons. I miss it. Like you, I use FB only on occasion. However, I know of no better service for gathering contacts, sharing professional and (limited-)personal content, and taking part in larger discussions.

    Still… when I did deactivate my FB account, I wondered about the readers I might be losing. Of course, they can still find my blog – hopefully they weren’t simply reading by default or something – and/or stick it in their favourite web-feed reader or whatever.

    Still…. I guess I’m thinking widening the discussion works really well, as long as we can maintain these larger venues of conversation and sharing, and have enough duplication that the event of losing one venue – like FB – doesn’t shut the discussion down.

    :)

  3. I’m with you on this, Brian. I think some people have the idea that communication can be simple and easy, and anything that makes it more complicated is bad. Whereas, communication is hard work and requires to think about it, but anything that makes it easier or increases its reach is good.

    Rules that say “you can only communicate like this …” do not make sense to me.

  4. […] Fragmenting The Discussion? […]

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