A post about linked lists goes too far into Facebook subscriptions and why I dislike cross-posting

I like Daring Fireball’s linked list. Clicking through to a linked list entry in your RSS reader sends you to the original post, not to Gruber’s commentary, which you would have read in your feed reader. The nerdy debate on this has been between confusing readers and making sure the source gets credited, but I think if you use a feed reader you probably won’t be so confused by this behavior.

If I were to paste the link to an article, a video, or a photo into a social network I would paste the original source’s URL on Youtube, Flickr, the author’s original post, or the originating website.1 That’s pretty much my philosophy on linked items in my feed and why I point my RSS directly to them and not to my page that links to them.

The Daring Fireball-style Linked List Plugin makes this pretty simple to do on WordPress installs, so that’s what I use. I’ve been using it for maybe a year or so, but now that Google has killed Reader’s sharing function I think this is more useful now than ever. In a way this recreates Google Reader’s sharing function and almost makes social networks unnecessary, especially now that the default is public for so many of them.

Garrett Murray wrote that Facebook Subscriptions solve the rss problem for regular people. This is true. The downside is that many public figures, at least those popular enough to have multiple online profiles, don’t really post anything unique to Facebook. Their Facebook posts consist of links to blog posts, photos from Flickr and Instagram, tweets, and links to other places where they’ve originally posted their content.

Writer Farhad Manjoo’s page is a good example of this. It’s just his tweets. If you follow Manjoo on Twitter then why bother subscribing to his Facebook page? It’s clear that he doesn’t really use Facebook.2

Murray writes that Facebook subscriptions feel more personal, but I disagree. Subscribing to pages like this feel like following a bot, because it is. Public personas often don’t use Google+ and Facebook in a unique way. They’re used more to make sure that people who use these networks see what’s been posted elsewhere. I think that dilutes the personal brand and contributes to this problem on the web where everything is regurgitated and less and less stuff is unique.

But who cares? The bigger problem, as Marco Arment would say, is that if you care about your online presence you must own it.

I’ve struggled with whether or not I should crosspost stuff to Facebook. I could hook up absolutely every online profile I have to my Facebook profile, but I think it would start looking spammy.3 If people care about my writing, funny pictures and videos I find, they may already see that stuff here. If they care about Steam and Xbox Live achievements then we’d be friends on those networks. My suspicion is that they don’t,4 so why create and maintain another layer?

But these networks solve the RSS problem for regular people, and regular people use Facebook, so why not just stop whining about it and cross post? Well, oftentimes regular people don’t care about yes this is dog memes, ByWord shortcuts, Italo Disco, the Dvorak keyboard layout, and why I stopped reading Dune.

The difference between regular people and the geeks who care about this stuff is that regular people want the social network with the likes, polls, and comments. The geeks want a personal publishing platform. Regular people participate and enjoy all that stuff, but to the publishing geeks—okay, maybe just me—it’s self indulgent attention-whoring.

When I cross-posted stuff to Facebook I sometimes felt selfish, constantly demanding attention and validation from my friends. I got the “like mah status”5 disease, getting upset like a pouty thirteen-year-old girl when nobody liked my stuff.

But I often didn’t like back. Look at some public Facebook profiles and it begins to look a lot like this: constant demand for attention with no reciprocation. Who wants a friend like that?

The blogs and rss aren’t for regular people problem may be what I like most about blogs and RSS. I can curate my own network of the stuff I like and leave out things like “so and so likes Mountain Dew” and polls that ask me if I’m going to see some movie this weekend. And for more private things, if appropriate, I can post them on Facebook.

But I probably won’t, because that stuff is private.

…anyway, that linked-list works pretty well.

  1. Vias get pointed out when I think it’s necessary, and it’s always a case-by-case basis. 

  2. The benefit of the doubt is that maybe he DOES use Facebook’s private settings for things he doesn’t want to make public. 

  3. This is what I believe to be the motivation behind Facebook’s timeline. Small activities don’t work on Facebook right now. They look spammy and worthless to the majority of the users. Plus, Timeline reveals exactly who the most important Facebook friend is: yourself. 

  4. I think many of my Facebook friends started hiding my updates the first time I tried this. Maybe that says more about me and the things I post than it does about my friends. 

  5. “Don’t get mad when nobody likes your shit because you know you are the only one to blame for that shit”.