Thursday, 2012-06-07

Life as a social sharecropper

The latest news that millions of hashed LinkedIn passwords are in the wild pushed me over the edge when it comes to “optional” social networks like LinkedIn. Like Frank I have long felt that LinkedIn is just a waste of time. I don’t get anything out of it and I’m tired of the spam from them. So I removed my account, even though they tried hard to keep me from doing so.

What do I mean by “optional”? Well nowadays, there’s one network you have to be a part of, and that’s Facebook. Not because it’s the best, far from it, but it’s become a de-facto authentication service and “real-name” locator for netizens. Personally I just use FB for certain circles (shall we call them the less tech-savvy and leave it at that ;) ) and for stuff like meeting invites. I usually see emails when there are updates that I need to check.

Then there’s the Google network, where I’ve been a happy user of Gmail and Reader for years but have now been promoted to “Google+” which feels very “me-too” compared to FB. But so far the utility I get from Google outweighs the creepy feel of Google+. I don’t bother using it.

Another network is Twitter, and yet another is Tumblr. There’s a lot of overlap, but they fill different niches. A third is Flickr, which is of course good for my photos.

My point is that different networks are good for different people, and in different periods of their lives, and for different interests. The challenge facing Facebook and Google+, in their current incarnations, is being good enough for a lot of people to make money off them.

The problem with LinkedIn, in my case, was that I simply wasn’t using it. It’s a social network for people who work. That’s not what I use my social networks for, I use them to relax. However, if they hadn’t messed up and got their passwords stolen, I would probably have remained a user.